Biomedical Sciences

Denis Vasiliev: Developing a deep understanding

Denis shares his experience of studying on the programme, and the skills and knowledge he developed.

Studying at the University of Edinburgh is truly unforgettable.


What is your background?

In 2009 I graduated from St. Petersburg State Forest Technical Academy as a specialist in Landscape Improvement. The same year I returned to Latvia. This was the time of deep economic crisis, so I could not find a job in my specialty. Despite securing  successful employment in business, I understood that this was not the purpose of my life.

I felt a desire to return to working with nature as I wanted to do something more meaningful for humanity and nature. I started searching and luckily came across the MSc in Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health at the University of Edinburgh.

What were your biggest take home lesson from the programme?

In 2015 I joined the programme and I believe it was one of the best experiences of my life. I already had some experience of studying abroad, both on campus and online, but studying at the University of Edinburgh is truly unforgettable. The teaching staff are highly professional and responsive; they confidently guided me to achieve my educational goals.

During the programme I discovered the exciting world of nature conservation and developed a range of very important skills, including critical thinking, debating and working with scientific texts.

I was amazed with the diversity and depth of teaching materials that included thought provoking tasks. I very much enjoyed participation in discussion boards with peer students, that allowed sharing thoughts and experiences and learning from each other. Amazingly, even when I selected closely related subjects in the programme I was always presented with interesting and diverse study materials that allowed to discover new, exciting and useful information. The course perfectly prepared me for my future career.

What skills will you take into the future?

Currently I manage an environmental NGO “Nature and People” in Latvia, teach at local private university, and do research work in the field of landscape ecology. Knowledge that I obtained during the studies tremendously helps me both in practical conservation and in scientific work. I can't imagine my current work without the deep understanding of connections between biodiversity and human well-being, community ecology, the role of non-native species and novel ecosystems, the link between pattern-processes and scale in natural systems, principles of environmental governance, ecological resilience, genetics, and knowledge in the many other areas associated with nature conservation that I obtained during the studies at Edinburgh. Furthermore, academic writing skills and critical analysis of the scientific literature have significantly helped me in my scientific work. 

What have you been able to do since completing the MSc that wasn't possible before?

During the program I developed some coding skills, which was something I could not have imagined when I enrolled on the course! All this started from my first encounter with R during the work on my dissertation. I currently code in R, SQL and Python. Not only did the programme help me to develop new skills, but it also helped me to apply my skills in landscape management, GIS, international communications and marketing, and nature conservation.