After some initial email contact, I was invited by Dr. David Suggett (now at University of Technology Sydney) for a month long internship in the Coral Reef Research Unit. The aim was for me to acquire skills which would aid me towards beginning a Ph.D. by assisting in the lab with coral research and husbandry.
The Coral Reef Research Unit (CRRU) has impressive experimental aquaria, perhaps the most extensive in the UK, and hosts a large number of students directed by Professor David Smith.
During my time at Essex, I became regularly relied upon to conduct aquaria monitoring and maintenance as well as inducting new student volunteers into the system.
In addition I had my first lessons using protocols for coral physiology, including the use of Fast Repetition Rate Fluorometry, a specialisation of Dr. Suggett, and live organism fluorescence microscopy working alongside Dr. Philippe Laissue in the Bioimaging facility (images below, fluorescent images property of Bioimaging Lab, University of Essex).