From an early age I knew I wanted to be scientist. My undergraduate degree in Forensic Science, at the University of Lincoln, was a useful multidisciplinary course that gave me a strong scientific grounding and emphasised a methodical and rigorous approach. It was during my undergraduate dissertation1 that my long standing interest in entomology developed in a more focused research and career interest. Consequently, I undertook a Masters degree in Natural Resource Management at the University of Leicester, with my dissertation research this time focusing on the ecological implications of woody debris in headwater streams.
Following my Masters degree I spent several years working as a waste water analyst, and on the reserves management teams at two different Wildlife Trusts, before joining the Species Research Unit at the WWT in 2010. Initially my work at WWT centred on a joint project (with RSPB and SNH) examining invertebrate food availability for Common Scoters breeding in Northern Scotland. Between 2011 and 2013 I began to use my skills more widely on the Trust’s various research programmes, including the Great Crane, Madagascar Pochard and Tadpole shrimp projects. In 2013 I was awarded an impact studentship by University College London (UCL) to carry PhD research that used palaeolimnology (lake sediment cores) to examine recent environmental change in the Flow Country in relation to declining numbers of breeding common scoter. Since 2016, following submission of my PhD, I have again worked in the research team at WWT, in the Conservation Science Department.
1Necrophageous fly species at three heights above ground, University of Lincoln Undergraduate dissertation.
Now a Principal Research Officer in the Conservation Science Department, my work at WWT involves working on a wide range of projects providing the scientific evidence that underpins our on the ground conservation work. Some of the WWT projects that I provide scientific and research focused support to include Madagascar Pochard (supervising palaeoecology PhD with UCL), the Severn Vale Waterscape and Natural Flood Management (Cotswold tributaries and Williton).
I manage WWTs Wetland Science laboratory, where we undertake a range of analyses including water quality testing, palaeolimnological sample preparation and microscopic sample processing (of for examples aquatic invertebrates).
I have maintained strong links with the environmental change research centre (ECRC) at UCL, where I teach, and co-supervise undergraduate, Masters and PhD students.
My personal research interests focus on recent environmental change in relation to applied conservation management, particularly of rare and declining species. I aspire to build on my expertise and experience in both palaeoecology and wetland management to facilitate the use of innovative techniques in wetland conservation and management.
Fieldwork: I have undertaken fieldwork in a range of remote and challenging locations including Russia, Madagascar, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Scotland.
Identification: I specialise in non-avian taxa, particularly freshwater invertebrates (species level identification skills). I also teach freshwater invertebrate sampling and identification to students at Universities, Museums and other NGOs. I am a member of the Riverfly Partnership Board and a qualified riverfly trainer. I have expertise in the identification of subfossil remains including chironomids, diatoms and macrofossils.
Laboratory: have experience of working in a range of academic, commercial and research laboratory settings and currently manage the Wetland Science laboratory at Slimbridge. Here we can undertake a range of water chemistry analyses, in addition to invertebrate identification and the processing palaeolimnological sediment samples. I also developed a quantitative method for faecal analysis of omnivorous birds, and conducted the first such evaluations of the diets of Madagascar Pochard, Common Scoters and Eurasian Cranes.
Data Analysis: I can confidently analyse data in a range of statistical software programmes including R, Canoco, C2 and QGIS.
Networking: My research is founded on providing applied management outputs for conservation practitioners; I have developed partnerships with both individuals and organisations involved in wetland management. I strongly believe in a collaborative working approach and am keen to incorporate expertise from different disciplines in my approach to research.
Scientific communication: I strongly believe in the value of communicating scientific messages both within the scientific community and to more general audiences. I am an active member of the freshwater ecology community. I provide training courses for universities, conservation charities and museums and engage members of the public and specialist interest groups with talks, presentations and interactive sessions.