I’m a marine biologist specialising in marine mammal research. In particular, I am interested in behaviour, ecology and underwater acoustics. But I also get excited about science communication and encouraging other people to take an interest in the natural world.
The Back Story
Originally from a wee town called Westhill in Scotland, I completed my BSc Zoology (Hons) at the University of Aberdeen in 2008. For my honours project I studied aggression in bottlenose dolphins from different populations around Scotland. After this I did a MRes Marine Mammal Science at the University of St Andrews culminating on a research project investigating the behaviour of grey seals at a haul-out site (which also turned out to be an unofficial nudist beach… oops!).
Here I met my partner and fellow marine biologist Phil (on the Masters course, not the nudist beach!). We travelled to Australia in 2010 to work on various whale and dolphin research projects, then returned in 2011 so Phil could begin his PhD at the University of Western Australia looking at mobile oceanic predators and submarine topography.
In the meantime, I was accepted for a PhD at Curtin University but unfortunately had no funding… For the next two years I toured Western Australia as a science communicator whilst looking for PhD funding and volunteering on several marine mammal projects. During this time I also worked at three different universities as a research assistant, lecturer and tutor.
In July 2013 I was able to start my PhD at the Centre for Marine Science and Technology at Curtin University, examining the behavioural and acoustical responses of coastal dolphins to noisy environments. I primarily worked with bottlenose dolphins (Swan River) and snubfin dolphins (Roebuck Bay) in Western Australia. If you have a spare couple of minutes, check out my winning presentation from the 3-Minute-Thesis (3MT) Competition!
I completed my PhD in 2017, publishing the results as a series of six papers. I then spent 1.5yrs undertaking some postdoctoral work at Curtin, which continued studying dolphins and marine soundscapes within the Swan River. During this time I also assisted with research projects at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and the University of Western Australia, as well as some casual work as an Environmental Consultant involved in marine impact assessments in Australia and SE Asia.
As of August 2018, I will be undertaking a new adventure as a Lecturer in Marine Vertebrate Zoology with the University of Portsmouth. This also means moving back to the UK, which (after 8yrs Down Under) will be an adventure in itself! But I am looking forward to expanding my teaching experience, developing new materials, supervising students, and getting some exciting projects off the ground. Stay tuned!
I’m amazed at how many scientists are reluctant to communicate their research with the general public. Many are unsure how to talk to non-scientists, or worry that no one will be interested. Often scientists are stressed and low on time, but the internet provides a quick, easy way of spreading news with minimal effort. We need to become “virtual scientists”.
I love talking about what I do, and this blog acts as another platform for me to communicate my research and thoughts on science. Here I’ll be talking about my research, science news, my life as a scientist, and throwing in occasional tips on science communication. I aim to enthuse rather than educate, and just want to share my own enthusiasm for science and the natural world. But at the same time I want to promote changing from a Science Geek to a Science Hero!