Samuel Thomsen

Scholar Date: 
2024 to 2025

Samuel Thomsen, 24, was born in Bristol, England. His formative years were enriched by a deep connection to the natural world. From nurturing corals in tropical aquariums to exploring coastal rock pools and indulging in pond-dipping adventures, Sam's early fascination with the underwater realm laid the groundwork for his future pursuits.

Sam studied biological sciences at both Bangor University and Edinburgh University for his undergraduate degree. However, it was during an international exchange year at Massey University, New Zealand when he first obtained his Open Water certification whilst focusing studies on marine biology and conservation. With the Great Barrier Reef being so (relatively) close, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit. Finally getting to dive on the great reef itself became a life-defining moment for him, re-affirming his absolute passion for coral and the fragility of these fascinating ecosystems.

Since finishing university, he moved to the Orkney Islands, working for NatureScot (a government agency) advising on transformative land use and natural capital. Driven by a desire to serve his community, Sam joined HM Coastguard as a Coastguard Rescue Officer, leading to amazing experiences like dramatic scenes of him hanging mid-air from a Sikorsky helicopter! Whilst on Orkney, Sam undertook his Divemaster training, diving in some of the most challenging conditions he has encountered underwater to date such as the World War I and II wrecks and structures of Scotland’s infamous Scapa Flow.

Sam is excited to explore his love for coral reefs and other benthic habitats as well as to engage in helping others, potentially utilising his search and rescue training. He is also eager to integrate his passion for photography throughout his journey this upcoming year.

Sam is excited to be named the 2024 European Scholar. During his Scholarship year he is particularly interested in exploring the intersection between biophysical and socioeconomic sciences for the betterment of people, communities, and nature. He envisions achieving this by building upon his professional experience working on ecosystem services, natural capital, and environmental policy.