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Grace Martin

Graduate Research Student



Auckland University of Technology

Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau

A Bit About Grace

Grace graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Auckland University of Technology in 2020. She is currently completing her Masters thesis year as part of the Connecting Coastal Communities research project.
Grace has always thrived in the outdoors. In her free time, she loves to explore the coast of Aotearoa New Zealand, finding new beaches or hiking through native forest.

Throughout her years of study, her passion for marine conservation continued to evolve. After her first trip to the Solomon Islands in 2019, Grace took a particular interest in coral reef ecosystems, which eventually led her to her current Masters thesis.

Along the way, she also developed a strong interest in Geographic Information Systems, which involves powerful computer software used to effectively analyse and visualise geographic data. With the help of her supervisors, Grace has been able to combine her two research interests into a geospatial study that will focus on the fine-scale habitat zonation of coral reef flats in the Solomon Islands.

Grace's Story

Grace was born a water baby. She remembers her childhood filled with holidays up and down the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, either at the beach or on a boat. Hunting for interesting creatures in any rock pool she could find was always a highlight of her time spent near the water.


For as long as she could remember, Grace had always thought she would become a vet. However, as her schooling years came to an end, she found herself drawn to the conservation aspects of biological science. Marine biology sounded like the perfect mix of her passion for animals, the outdoors, and ocean-based conservation.

Grace outdoors.jpg

After she graduated high school in 2017, she packed up her life and moved down to Wellington to study a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and Psychology. Although she enjoyed her time in Wellington, she felt that she wanted to direct her focus towards environmental science. A friend of Grace’s from AUT raved on about a course that involved a trip to the Solomon Islands, and that was enough to entice her back to Auckland.


Tongariro alpine crossing, Tongariro National Park

Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

The Wharekirauponga Track,

Parakiwai Valley, Whangamata

Te Waihou blue springs, Tirau

Grace first visited the Solomon Islands back in 2019, alongside her co-supervisor Professor Armagan Sebatian. This trip was a big step outside of Grace’s comfort zone, but as soon as she landed in the tropics, she felt right at home.

During her time in the Solomons, she got to dive on some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world and explore the dense tropical rainforest of Kolombangara Island. This introduction to tropical marine ecosystems ignited her passion for coral reef conservation.

Part of this expedition included a self-led project, where she conducted an observational study on the behaviour of anemone fish on the reef flat outside Vavanga Village. This trip gave Grace many valuable skills needed to successfully conduct work in the field and introduced her to the importance of integrating local indigenous knowledge with scientific research techniques.


During the final year of her undergraduate studies, Grace went on to conduct a research project on the population dynamics of New Zealand Snapper, under the guidance of her supervisor Armagan. Once again, this opportunity continued to refine her research and communication skills and gave her a taste of what was to come in her masters’ year.


Grace’s research experience and familiarity with the Solomon Islands has made her an ideal collaborator for the Connecting Coastal Communities research project. Grace believes that it will be incredibly important to produce results that are both accessible and easy to understand, in order to give back to the local community who has made this project possible.

Grace and her adopted

village baby

Grace and some of the local Village kiddies

These two were joint at the hip


Watching the church choir

Grace, Marinta, and Adrian

Post data collection snack -


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