Meet . . . members of the Awards Nominations Committee
Our newest committee, the Awards Nominations Committee now oversees the criteria of, and nominations processes for, each of our awards.
Dr Lucy Wright
Lucy has a lifelong interest in birds and now work as a Principal Conservation Scientist in the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science. Her career began with various short research contracts before and after a PhD on Woodlark demography. She worked at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) as a Research Ecologist and later Research Manager focusing largely on investigating the potential impacts of developments (wind farms, tidal power, airports) on birds and advising on the designation of marine protected areas. She then moved to her current role at the RSPB in 2016, where Lucy leads a small team who provide scientific support for RSPB’s casework relating to planned developments and protected areas, and conduct research into the impacts of offshore wind farms on seabirds.
Lucy is a keen bird ringer, mostly with the Wash Wader Ringing Group, and sits on the BTO’s Ringing Committee that oversees the work of volunteer ringers across Britain and Ireland. She’s an Associate Editor for the BTO journal Bird Study. She believes that diversity, in all its forms, makes us stronger, and she wants to help the BOU to continue its work to improve equality and diversity in ornithology.
Follow Lucy on Twitter @_LucyWright
Dr Niall Burton
Niall is Head of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)’s Wetland and Marine Research Team. Following a PhD on the Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones at Durham University, Niall joined the BTO in the mid-1990s, working on a number of projects looking at the impacts of development on coastal waterbirds. Niall currently oversees BTO’s research into waterbirds and seabirds, working closely with the BTO’s Monitoring Team and the partners of the Wetland Bird Survey and Seabird Monitoring Programme. The team’s work programme explores the explores the range of factors that may affect waterbird and seabird population dynamics, including climate change, habitat change and the impacts of coastal and offshore developments. A keen nest recorder, Niall’s personal research has also included a long-term study on Tree Pipits.
Niall previously chaired the BOU’s Meetings Committees, overseeing conferences on the Impact of Non-natives and Marine Renewables and Birds amongst others.
Aurora is a biologist, passionate about wildlife – especially birds. She studied a Master’s in Wildlife Conservation at the University of West of England and her project on Wren bioacoustics in Welsh Islands has recently been published in Bird Study. Shortly after her master’s she became a bird ringer and gained her licence a couple of years ago. Since then, she has participated in different ringing campaigns in Spain, Denmark, and the UK. For Aurora, the conservation of species is very important and uses her free time to run public engagements events such as bird ringing for schools and children. For the last year, Aurora has been working with Younger Lab at the University of Bath to uncover the basis of the uneven sex ratio in the Chew Valley population of Moorhens. She is using a combination of morphometrics and genetic methods. Alongside, Aurora is also collecting funding and ideas for her PhD on Peruvian birds starting next year.
Follow Aurora on Twitter @Au_Erithacus
Prof Rhys Green
Rhys was interested in birds and all other animals since the age of six. He was a keen birdwatcher and ringer while at school and joined the RSPB’s Young Ornithologists’ Club and the BOU, having justified the fee by telling his mother that the BOU (being a union) fought for much-needed higher pay and better working conditions for ornithologists! Rhys had a BTO A permit for bird ringing before he went to university in Cambridge and therefore got to teach fellow students how to catch and ring birds. His first published research was done with Nick Davies when they were zoology undergraduates and studied the development of feeding behaviour of hand-reared Reed Warblers at Wicken Fen and in a Cambridge bedsit. Always interested in applying ecology, Rhys did a PhD at Cambridge on how perceived pest problems to sugar beet caused by Skylarks and field mice could be managed. He next did a radio-tracking study of partridges as a postdoc to Dick Potts at the Game Conservancy (now GWCT) before moving to the RSPB’s research department (now the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science) in 1982. He worked as a conservation scientist at RSPB until retirement in 2017, researching the effects of conservation action on Snipe, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwits, Corncrakes, Stone-curlews, Woodlarks, Nightjars, and Great Yellow Bumblebees in the UK and vultures, Jerdon’s Coursers, Sociable Lapwings and Spoon-billed Sandpipers in Asia. In 1999, he was seconded by the RSPB to the Conservation Science Group in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge, where he remains an Honorary Professor of Conservation Science. In 2000, with Andrew Balmford and Rosie Trevelyan, Rhys began the annual Student Conference on Conservation Science series in Cambridge. In 2005, again with Andrew Balmford, Rhys started a continuing research programme on the outcomes for biodiversity of land-sparing and land-sharing forms of farming. From 2007 onwards, Rhys researched the effects of climatic change on bird distribution and abundance with Brian Huntley and Steve Willis (Durham University) and James Pearce-Higgins (BTO). Since 2008, Rhys has studied on the effects of lead derived from spent ammunition on ducks, buzzards, California Condors and people, mostly with Debbie Pain.
Dr Grant Humphries
Grant is originally from Newfoundland, Canada, and has been birding since he was a young boy. Going into his undergrad, he knew he wanted to get into marine biology and was drawn into marine ornithology after his first field season on Buldir Island in Alaska. He studied Leach’s Petrel vocalizations and then went on to do a masters at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2008, where he began to study the field of machine learning in the context of seabird ecology. In 2010 he moved to Dunedin, New Zealand where he undertook his PhD working with Sooty Shearwaters and predictive modelling of climate systems using seabird harvest data. Grant took on a number of consultancy contracts between his PhD and post-doctoral programs, eventually ending up at Stony Brook, New York where he got involved with studying Antarctic penguins. He was the lead web programmer for the mapping application for penguin populations and projected dynamics (MAPPPD; www.penguinmap.com), and every year returns to Antarctica as a professional penguin counter.
Since moving to Scotland in 2016, Grant has been the lead editor on a Machine Learning in ecology book and is also the lead data scientist at HiDef Aerial Surveying. He has been involved in projects all around the world through his own consultancy, Black Bawks Data Science, and every year goes to Newfoundland to do monitoring work on seabirds in Bonavista Bay. He’s the co-host of Seabird Sessions, and when he’s not working with seabirds, he plays guitar and mandolin, and enjoys kayaking and birding.
Follow Grant on Twitter @GrantHumphries
Dr Becky Laidlaw
Becky works as a marine ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, where she provides technical and specialist ornithology advice relating to marine developments. Becky has previously worked on breeding waders, with roles at the University of East Anglia, University of Iceland and the RSPB. Her PhD explored habitat management options to minimise predation of breeding waders in lowland wet grasslands, and she carried this forward to further research on wader nest predation in England and in Iceland. This led to her organising a predator management workshop, which identified and prioritised the key knowledge gaps for predator studies in breeding waders. Becky is currently part of the Scientific Organising Committee for the 2022 BOU Annual Conference.
Follow Becky on Twitter @blaidlaw1
Dr Elizabeth Masden
Elizabeth is a Research Fellow at the University of the Highlands and Islands and is based in Caithness. Her current research primarily focuses on the potential impacts of human activities such as renewable energy on the environment, and particularly seabirds. Elizabeth also has an interest in cumulative impacts related to renewable energy which stems from her PhD which she completed in 2010 at the University of Glasgow, focussed on assessing the cumulative impacts of wind farms on bird populations. Elizabeth is happiest when outside and can often be found on a beach with a flask of tea, warming up after a swim in the sea!
David Stroud was Senior Ornithologist with the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee, from 1991-2019 where he was responsible for providing JNCC’s ornithological advice to government, the statutory conservation agencies, multilateral environment agreements and others. He helped manage many of UK bird monitoring programmes including the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme, Breeding Bird Survey, Wetland Bird Survey, and Rare Breeding Birds Panel (of which he remains an independent member). Over four decades he co-ordinated three national reviews of the UK network of SPAs classified under the EU Birds Directive.
David has been, and remains, involved with many international conservation fora, including the Ramsar’s Scientific and Technical Review Panel (former Chair and currently representing Europe), Wetlands International, the EU’s Nature Directives Expert Group, various Working Groups related to the Convention on Migratory Species, and the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement’s Technical Committee (formerly as Chair). He also has a long-standing involvement with the International Wader Study Group editing International Wader Studies and the Wader Study Group Bulletin (now Wader Study) for many years.
Among David’s personal ornithological interests are the assessment of population status and trends of waders in Africa and western Eurasia; the long-term, population study of Greenland White-fronted Geese; and developing a better understanding of the historical and current distribution and trends of Spotted Crakes in the UK – a high status wetland species that is slipping away with even less attention than Curlew…!
Dr Alice Trevail
My research to date has focused on how variability in the physical environment shapes movement strategies of seabirds, from individual foraging habitat selection to species migrations. I am interested in where animals forage, given the complex and diverse range of opportunities within their surrounding environment. During my PhD at the University of Liverpool I explored fine scale foraging behaviour of kittiwakes around the UK. I am currently a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Exeter, working on a project that aims to understand the value of habitat within Marine Protected Areas to seabirds in the Western Indian Ocean.
Follow Alice on Twitter @AliceTrevail