Hello Everyone! my name is Tamer Hafez and I am from Egypt. Last september, after I finished my masters, I was lucky to get accepted as a self funding student in the university of the Basque country in Spain. From my undergraduate days, I was passionate about the Marine environment. In Egypt I participated in projects to conserve Marine turtles and other conservation projects in the red sea. Nowadays, my passion grew more with the marine environment but with tiny organisms called copepods (shown in the photos of the campaign). Although relatively small, these small, shrimp like invertebrates play a crucial role in the marine environment. Copepods are the majority of the marine zooplankton communities and serve to be a primary food source for several commercially important fish. In addition, they help in transfer energy from primary producers to other higher level consumers.
Similar to any other organisms, copepods are subjected to pollution in the oceans, seas, estuaries and lakes. This led to scientists to study the effects of pollutants on copepods. Furthermore, Scientists started to use them as "bioindicators" . Basically, a "bioindicator" is an organism which scientists study their exposure to certain pollution and from their reaction toward this pollutant, scientists can determine the effects of the pollutant toward the environment.
copepods are very valuable for pollution research because unlike other model organisms, they are widely available in all oceans seas and even some species in freshwater lakes. In addition, they are
easy to handle and study, making them a cheap and valuable tool to study
environment pollution and thus helping to keep our oceans clean!
For me, I started to conduct research on certain copepods species as bioindicators during my master degree (also in Spain). I exposed copepods towards an endocrine disruptor compound called ethinyl estradiol. Such compound is used in human contraceptive pills and in livestock industry. This compound is usually released in the water systems from contraceptive pills users urine and from livestock and aquaculture wastes . It was shown that such compounds can have harmful effects on copepods. Ethinyl estradiol caused the copepods used in the experiments to lay low number of eggs and eventually caused death. My experiments did contribute to understand the effect of Ethinyl estradiol toward the environment through copepods. In addition, my work was presented in two conferences in Spain.
Now, I want further develop the techniques I have learned about using copepods as bioindicators. I will introduce in my research other types of pollutants towards the marine environment such as crude oil and soluble oil fractions. Such research will be very beneficial to understand the effects of oil spill accidents toward zooplankton, other organisms and the environment. It was shown that although crude oil from oil spills can be cleaned from the water surface, there are some soluble compounds in the oil that can dissolve in the seawater and thus create further threats.
I am currently looking funding opportunities for my work, but with very little success at the moment because I am not an EU citizen. But I well keep looking and not lose hope.
Currently, I have small help from my academic advisors to acquire some of the materials in addition to small leftovers from the funds I had during my master degree studies. However such money cannot fully cover everything for my studies in Spain
Donation for my project will help in set up the foundation of my Phd research such as buying the needed resources for experiments, establishing and maintaining copepods culture in the lab to be used in the experiment etc. In addition, this donation can help me to support my living expenses in Spain. Studying abroad can be expensive but I will not lose hope to fulfill my dreams. It was always my dream to contribute toward marine conservation through science and follow the academic track till the end. Finally, obtaining my degree from Spain can be very beneficial to serve my community back in Egypt!. The experience I have obtained from studying abroad will assist me in conducting conservation projects in Egypt to try to protect the beautiful marine environment we have.
I am also willing to share the project progress with my backers and donators. Thus giving an insight on how exposure experiments are done.
Thank you very much for the support