FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

Our experienced teaching staff



Alex MacFie- Head of Centre

Qualifications: BCom Commerce, Mountain Leader (S), TCL, ILM 5

I have always been passionate about outdoor education and spend most of my free time out hill walking or mountain biking. Having spent most of my working life managing projects with a focus on education for young people, FSC gives me the opportunity to further develop both the educational opportunities available for all age groups and to extend my own knowledge of the marine and coastal environments. FSC Millport has outstanding facilities, a superb team and a huge variety of excellent courses so I am delighted to be the Head of Centre here.

Jack Lucas - Tutor

Qualifications: Marine Biology at Plymouth University

Having spent most of my time in the outdoors from an early age, I am fascinated by the natural environment and the variety of wildlife that can be found if you look hard enough. I have a particular passion for the ocean, with my childhood love of water sports, sailing and all things marine sparking an interest in the creatures and processes of the marine realm. This led me to pursue a degree in Marine Biology at Plymouth University, where I developed a keen interest in marine mammal science and have since conducted whale, dolphin, seal and seabird research around the world, working with research organisations in The Bahamas, New Zealand, Australia and right here in the UK. After graduating I wanted to continue my passion for fieldwork whilst informing and educating others about not only scientific techniques, but also the wonders of different ecosystems and how we can best conserve them for future generations. This lead me to apply to become a Tutor with the Field Studies Council in 2015; a role where I could use my knowledge and enthusiasm to teach in an outdoor setting and away from the traditional desk-bound classrooms. Leading groups ranging from primary and secondary school pupils right through to university students and adults on leisure learning courses is a very challenging yet rewarding job, where I feel I can really make a difference and hopefully inspire others about the world we live in!

Now based at FSC Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae I am constantly amazed by the wildlife and landscapes that we have here, less an hour away from Glasgow! There are seals hauled out on the rocks, porpoises and dolphins in the bay, all manner of seabirds wheeling overhead and even the odd otter or basking shark sighted from the field centre! The facilities here are fantastic; the centre boasts it’s own research vessel for marine sampling, an aquarium and marine museum on site, newly refitted classrooms and a host of state-of-the-art scientific equipment such as electron microscopes and wet labs for students to make the most out of their learning experience here. It really is an extraordinary place to work, explore and learn!

Tom Stevenson - Senior Education Team member and Boat Crew

Qualifications: University of Manchester and King’s College London

After completing my studies at the University of Manchester and subsequently at King’s College London, I began working in 1989 as a research assistant at the University Marine Biological Station on the Isle of Cumbrae, now reincarnated and rejuvenated as the Field Studies Council (Millport) Centre. Involvement in a wide variety of research projects and programmes, in subjects including aquaculture, fisheries management, power station antifouling strategies, seabed mapping and organism ecology and physiology have given me a broad knowledge of a wide range of marine biological techniques and issues. My long involvement with ship-borne operations has continued at FSC Millport, now with RV Actinia, an 11m catamaran purpose-built for marine teaching. Ashore as an administrator ensuring our compliance with regulations, and on board as crew, I provide practical and technical advice to visiting course leaders and researchers. It has been my great fortune to have been involved with the teaching of marine biology at Millport for just over twenty-five years, ranging from primary school children first encountering science to postgraduate researchers perhaps a little further along the journey. However, I still learn new things about the marine environment around Cumbrae almost every day.

I built myself a stately treasure house Beside the rolling ocean’s swell, With cunning apparatus to disclose The gems below that dwell, - Those frail living gems “of purest ray serene” Oft frail, fantastic, strange and rare, Whose lives sheer mysteries have ever been, But need not be – with care. from ‘An Oceanographer’s Dream’ Walter Garstang

Christina Sinclair - Tutor

Qualifications: BSc Marine Biology, University of St Andrews

Having been obsessed with the works of David Attenborough since the age of 8 I always knew I wanted to work outdoors and by the sea. I’m astounded by the beauty and diversity of life in our oceans and this led me to pursue a degree in Marine Biology at the University of St Andrews. Throughout my degree I developed a love of scuba diving and have dived in Honduras, Thailand, Indonesia, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand and even balmy Scotland! My experience in diving and voluntary work in various aquariums also helped me to develop an interest in education. I am very concerned about the threat of climate change and the fragility of many of our ecosystems and I think public education is the best way to create positive change in our world! After graduating I worked in Edinburgh Zoo as an Animal Presenter, working predominantly in the Giant Panda exhibit and discussing their biology and conservation. Now working as a Tutor with FSC Millport I have been able to use my knowledge and passion to inspire others, whilst working by the sea. Teaching a range of people from primary school children to adults is a hugely rewarding experience and one which I hope will benefit the environment in the long term.

Anna Newlove - Technician and Education Assistant

Qualifications: BSC in Zoology with Animal Behaviour, Bangor University

From an early age, I have always been fascinated by the outdoor world. How animals interact with each other and their environment, and why? This led to me studying Zoology, with an animal behaviour speciality, at university. I was given the opportunity to see some incredible wildlife and visit some amazing places, from the beaches on the Isle of Anglesey, to the mountains of Snowdonia, and the Florida Everglades! My time at university also helped me to develop an appreciation for what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ as a Zoologist - the preparation of equipment and laboratory spaces, learning about experimental design and all the other ‘less glamourous’ jobs that you have to do! All of this has led me to working here at Millport, where I get to spend my time doing a variety of jobs in a beautiful setting. From getting laboratories ready for visiting universities, to maintaining equipment and helping to teach courses on Scottish wildlife to hermit crab behaviour, there is never a quiet day here. To top it all off, I can watch otters, gannets and dolphins from the office!

Rhona Macgregor - Higher Education Student Placement

Qualifications: Studying Biological Sciences at the University of Plymouth

I am currently studying for a Biological Sciences degree at the University of Plymouth and as part of this was given the opportunity to carry out a placement year. Having spent a lot of time sailing for several years now, it has increased my fascination with the marine environment in particular. Being able to broaden my knowledge and others through hands on field work at Millport has been ideal. I wanted to develop my passion for fieldwork which has been enhanced by field trips to various locations around Devon and the Azores while educating others on the amazing intricacies of ecosystems and how our impacts on the planet can effect ecosystems along with ways of conserving them.

Chris Smith - Higher Education Student Placement

Qualifications: Studying Animal Behaviour and Wildlife Conservation at the University of Wolverhampton

As a student of the University of Wolverhampton studying for a bachelor’s degree in Animal Behaviour and Wildlife Conservation, the opportunity to become a member of the FSC education team for a year is unbelievably valuable and exciting. I have always had a strong connection with the outdoors through my link to scouting and more recently university. This has provided me with the opportunity to travel to Poland, tracking wolves, bear and lynx and to Southern India, learning about the conservation efforts in place to protect the country’s vital habitats and species. In addition I have travelled to many different areas of the UK, from Aberystwyth, Wales, to Gairloch, Scotland and many places in between. With no real expertise in any one subject and an eagerness to learn, FSC Millport is the perfect place to spend a placement year.