22nd July 2019 – Steven Allain, University of Kent/Zoological Society of London

Steven AllainSteven is a current PhD candidate at the University of Kent where his research focuses on the population dynamics of the barred grass snake (Natrix helvetica) and the effects of snake fungal disease (Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola). Steven holds a BSc Zoology from Anglia Ruskin University and an MRes in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation from Imperial College London. Throughout his academic career, Steven’s main interests have been the conservation of amphibian and reptiles. This has taken many forms over the years including population monitoring and investigating for the influence of disease. One of the projects which you may be aware of is the monitoring of midwife toads (Alytes obstetricans) in Cambridge, where Steven has been coordinating a project to investigate the population size and to also screen for disease since 2015.

Steven is actively involved with the conservation of the UK’s herpetofauna but is also involved in projects across the world. Steven’s research has also seen him travel to a number of countries including Germany, Malaysia and Tanzania. Some of Steven’s affiliations include the British Herpetological Society (where he is a council member), Save the Snakes (where is on the advisory board) and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group (where he is chairman). Aside from Steven’s strong passion for the natural world and particularly of herpetofauna, he also has a strong scientific background too. With a large number of publications under his belt before starting his PhD, it is clear that Steven strives to improve our understanding of amphibians and reptiles as well as making this information available. You can find out more about Steven by visiting his website: http://www.stevenallain.co.uk/

26th November 2018 – Cecilia O’Leary, Stony Brook University

Cecilia OLearyI’m a quantitative ecologist and oceanographer. In general, I study marine animal size and age structures (what sizes and ages make up a population) & how environmental and biological processes drive this. We often call this field population dynamics. Lately, I’ve focused on the temporal population dynamics of fish and how climate influences those dynamics (i.e., how do fish numbers change over time?). I think about why we’re observing the number of fishes we see in the ocean, and if large-scale regional climate patterns can describe those changes in abundance. I’ve also studied marine mammals in the past.  I always try and tie my work back to the application of these findings. Often, that means how will a populations response to climate influence the effectiveness of our fisheries management. I enjoy studying both fisheries and marine mammals because of their direct ties to management and importance to the sociology and economy of many coastal places. I love field work and have been lucky enough to participate in fieldwork in the Florida Keys, Mojave Desert, Antarctica, and the Missouri River. The majority of my day to day work now is programming, primarily in #rstats. I’m also all about social change & inclusion in STEM, humanizing the Ph.D. process and the igniting open discussions about the struggles we face as students, and promoting women in STEM. Finally, I absolutely love to talk to students, especially young woman, about what life is actually like as a scientist, so feel free to contact me about speaking to your classroom! You can read more about me, my science work, and life as a woman in STEM here: https://rapidecology.com/2018/03/15/ecologist-spotlight-cecilia-oleary/

April 13th 2015 – Matt Hayward, Bangor University

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am interested in the conservation ecology of threatened species, the factors that threaten them and the methods we can use to effectively conserve them. I have researched these conservation issues in the UK, Australia, South Africa and Poland on marsupials, rodents, reptiles, invertebrates, ungulates and large predators.  I have published on predator-prey interactions, reintroduction biology, population dynamics, spatial ecology, intra-guild competition, diet, territorial amplification behaviour, conservation benchmarks, bushmeat hunting, conservation effectiveness and IUCN status assessments.  I also have experience in conservation management (reintroduction, tourist impacts, pest animal control, conservation fencing, fire management) and have sat on several Australian threatened species recovery teams.

I conducted a PhD on the conservation ecology of the vulnerable quokka Setonix brachyurus – a small wallaby that the introduced red fox loves to kill – in the Western Australian jarrah forest. I then conducted two post docs in South Africa; the first on bushmeat hunting in the coastal forests of the Transkei with the Walter Sisulu University, and the second at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University on the reintroduction of lions, spotted hyaenas and a leopard to Addo Elephant National Park.  After this I undertook a Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Polish Academy of Science’s Mammal Research Institute in Białowieża Primeval Forest where I continued my work on prey preferences of large predators, as well as conducted field work on European bison.  Most recently, I was the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s regional ecologist for six reserves in south-eastern Australia covering over 700,000ha and ranging from the deserts of Lake Eyre through the mallee to Sydney’s North Head where reintroduction, ecosystem services, feral eradication/control and fire management were key research issues.

I’m now a senior lecturer in conservation at Bangor University in North Wales where I run a module on wildlife ecology and conservation, and a field trip to South Africa. I also teach in to several other modules. I also spend time in editorial roles for Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, Journal of Applied Ecology, Journal of Zoology, Conservation Letters, Mammalian Biology, African Journal of Wildlife Research, and Endangered Species Research. I currently have post graduate students working on wolves in Croatia, leopard conflict in South Africa, reviewing reintroductions in South Africa, threatened beetle research in South Africa, corridor use by peccaries in Belize, spatial ecology of large mammals in East Africa, and predator prey preferences. I’m always happy to be contacted by potential post-graduate students to discuss research projects.