Octavia Brayley


  • Education Officer, 2022-2023



I am a PhD student at the University of Birmingham (in partnership with the British Antarctic Survey) where I am researching the effects of an invasive species of insect, Eretmoptera murphyi, on Signy Island- part of the South Orkney Islands in Antarctica. My research utilises biogeochemical techniques to analyse soil samples to investigate how E.murphyi (originally native to South Georgia) is impacting on the island’s terrestrial nutrient availability, DNA sequencing and “omics” technologies to identify specific genes that enable the insects to survive in such extreme conditions, and computational modelling to predict future invasions due to climate change.

Alongside my work as a researcher, I have been tutoring science to students for over five years, which is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. I have also taught biology in a classroom setting at Harrow School in London last year where I taught the GCSE and A-Level curriculum as well as my own course on polar biology as part of the Harrow Diploma. I am also a STEM Ambassador which has given me many opportunities to inspire the next generation of scientists through lectures, workshops, and resource creation. Additionally, I will soon be travelling on my first cruise ship as an international naturalist lecturer!

I’m thrilled to be working with the UKPN team as Education Officer and I’m looking forward to strengthening our current educational tools, establishing new partnerships, and developing creative ways to ensure that the beauty and fragility of our polar regions is accessible to everyone.