Meet . . . our Engagement Committee

Dr Tom Finch


Tom works is a Senior Conservation Scientist with the RSPB’s Centre for Concervation Science. His interests include conservation, agriculture and bird migration. He completed his PhD at the University of East Anglia in 2016, where he studied the breeding ecology and migration of the European Roller. He sits on BOU Council as an ordinary member, and is also on the BOU Engagement Committee.

Follow Tom on Twitter @ tomfinch89

Dr Ailidh Barnes

Ailidh works as a Research Ecologist in the Monitoring Research Team at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) covering a wide range of projects related to understanding change in populations of birds and other taxa, and the effectiveness of protected areas. She completed her PhD at Bournemouth University in 2020 which consisted of collating and analysing bird survey data and habitat data through vegetation surveys and structural data from remotely sensed LiDAR to investigate bird-habitat relationships at a landscape scale. This encompassed not only measures of diversity and species richness but also measures of declining, conservation priority and rare species from bird trend data and population estimates in two contrasting landscapes.

Ailidh is also an Ex-officio committee member of the Tay Ringing Group and has contributed to the data collection in Wytham Woods with the University of Oxford, and in Trinidad with the University of Dundee.

Follow Ailidh on Twitter @AilidhBarnes

Dr Aonghais Cook

Aonghais is a senior research ecologist within the BTO’s Wetland and Marine Research Team. Since joining the BTO in 2008 to help investigate the potential impacts of tidal power projects on waterbirds on the Severn Estuary, he has worked on a variety of applied projects. In recent years, his work has focussed on the Offshore Wind Industry, both in the UK and internationally.

Follow Aonghais on Twitter @AonghaisC

Dr Lynda Donaldson

Lynda currently works in the Conservation Evidence team at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) based at Slimbridge. Her research is primarily based on species recovery, with a particular focus on translocation science. She completed her PhD at the University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus in 2017, which used birds endemic to papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) swamps in East Africa as a model system to explore conservation prioritization in fragmented landscapes, and identify conservation solutions that work for both biodiversity and local livelihoods. Prior to this, Lynda worked as a Research Assistant in the science team at BirdLife International in Cambridge. Over the years, she has worked on a variety of projects in the UK and abroad, including engagement roles with the RSPB and Glasgow Science Centre.

Lynda still loves to travel at any opportunity and keep active in the outdoors. She is also a Trustee and Communications Officer for the African Bird Club. She joined the BOU’s Engagement Committee in 2018.

Follow Lynda on Twitter @donaldsonlynda1

Steve Dudley

Chief Operations Officer
Equality & Working Group member

Steve has worked in and around ornithology, and in particular science communication, since 1985. He started life as an RSPB reserves engagement officer before moving to the BTO (membership development officer) and then, in 1997, appointed as the BOU’s senior staff member to run the day to day operations of Union.

His role is very varied and means he has his fingers in most BOU pies including delivering all BOU conferences and events, running the business side of the BOU’s journal, IBIS, website development and content management and servicing BOU Council and its five Standing Committees. With a long-standing passion for communication, Steve undertakes all the BOU’s comms and social media (including the development of the BOU Twitter conferences), and in recent years has been actively involved in researching the ornithological community’s use of social media and has co-authored papers with Jen Smart (How social are ornithologists?, IBIS, 2016), with Tom Finch and Nina O’Hanlon (Tweeting birds: social media promotes citations in ornithology Royal Society Open Science, 2017) and with Anthony Caravaggi, Agnes Olin and Kirsty Franklin (Twitter conferences as a low-carbon, far-reaching and inclusive way of communicating research in ornithology and ecology, IBIS, 2021).

With a background in design, in 2019 Steve designed the new Janet Kear Union Medal replacing the BOU’s existing Union Medal which had been in service since 1912.

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevedudley_

Dr Jenny Dunn

Equality & Working Group member

Jenny is a Senior Lecturer in Animal Health and Disease at the University of Lincoln. Her research focuses on avian ecology and parasites, with a specific focus on the community-level dynamics of haemoparasite infections, and she also leads the Lincoln Swans project (@LincolnSwans on Twitter). Before moving to Lincoln she led the UK Turtle Dove Monitoring research project at RSPB, following on from a PhD an avian ecology at the University of Leeds. She holds a BTO S ringing permit, and enjoys travelling, and exploring the Lincolnshire countryside with her two Labradors.

Follow Jenny on Twitter @jennycdunn

Dr Daniel Hayhow

Equality & Working Group member

Daniel works for Earthwatch as Research Lead in Urban Biodiversity, an exciting new challenge working on urban biodiversity studies as well as climate resilience and mitigation projects globally.

Prior to his move to Earthwatch, Daniel worked for the RSPB since completing his PhD at the University of East Anglia with Prof Jenny Gill on winter habitat use by Black-tailed Godwits in Ireland. In the Monitoring and Species Research section of the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, Daniel has led national surveys for a range of scarce species including Hen Harrier, Dotterel, Snow Bunting, Chough and Golden Eagle. In recent years Daniel has led on a number of multi-partner publications including the 2016 and 2019 State of Nature reports.

Through this body of work Daniel has built up a broad knowledge of species ecology and conservation issues and practice. Passionate about engaging people with nature and conservation Daniel has been active in communicating with the public through radio, TV and print media as well as social media activities and citizen science projects.

Follow Daniel on Twitter @DBHayhow

Dr Verónica Méndez

Verónica is currently based at the University Centre of the Westfjords (Iceland), as program director of the Coastal and Marine Management master’s program. My research focuses in coastal systems, with particular interest in wader migration ecology an population dynamics. She is currently studying the Icelandic breeding population of Eurasian Oystercatcher to investigate causes and consequences of variation in migratory behaviour and individual responses to environmental change.

Follow Verónica on Twitter @VMendezAragon

Dr Julie Millier

Council member

Julie is an ornithologist and seabird ecologist at the University of Glasgow completing her PhD in quantitative modelling of seabird demography, with an applied interest in assessment of impacts to populations from human activities. Passionate about the natural world, Julie is particularly interested in blue-sky questions in ecology, quantitative approaches to assess patterns in data and applied conservation management. Growing up in Glasgow she has a keen interest in social connectivity with nature and accessibility of science to broad audiences.

Connor Panter

Blog Editor 

Connor is undertaking a PhD in macroecology entitled “Abundance within species’ ranges: understanding species’ responses to environmental change” at the School of Geography, University of Nottingham (UK). He is interested in many aspects of ecology, conservation and ornithology and his research predominantly focuses on raptors and the use of citizen science to advance ornithological knowledge. Previously, Connor has volunteered for the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, tagging Griffon Vultures with satellite telemetry loggers, studied Eurasian Sparrowhawk diet using web-sourced images (published in IBIS) and explored Red Kite movement behaviour during winter in south-western Europe. As well as joining us as Editor of #theBOUblog, Connor is currently taking part in the Member Mentoring Scheme trial.

Follow Connor on Twitter @ConnorEcology

Dr Ashley Sendell-Price

Equality & Working Group member

Ashley recently obtained a DPhil from the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology, where he is currently a postdoctoral researcher. His research uses island colonising birds as a model system for studying the process of speciation and is particularly interested in the use of historical avian introductions as a means to study the very early stages of divergence/adaptation in the wild. In his current position, Ashley is using whole genome sequencing techniques to identify genomic regions underlying the ‘island syndrome’ – a repeated pattern of change seen in birds towards larger body size and slower life histories on islands.

Ashley is committed to increasing diversity in both science and ornithology and has taken an active role in the organisation of events to commemorate LGBT history month in Oxford and is a founding member of the Oxford Biology LGBTQ+ Network. As a member of the Engagement Committee and Equality & Diversity Working Group Ashley assists the BOU in its commitment to equality and diversity, as well as its engagement with members and the ornithological community.
Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshSendellPrice

Saskia Wischnewski

Saskia is a Conservations Scientist within the RSPB’s Centre for Conservation Science. Her main work focusses on understanding the impacts of renewable energy developments on birds and she is currently responsible for the delivery of the RSPB’s seabird tracking projects relating to offshore windfarms. In the past, she has been involved in tracking and monitoring studies of a large variety of different seabird species in often remote locations around the world, including Germany, Canada and Ireland, but also had the privilege to contribute to studies of corvid tool-use behaviour and conduct fieldwork on New Caledonian crows. She has also been ringing birds for 11 years and holds a BTO C-permit.

Saskia is a strong believer in the power of public engagement and social media. She did a short stint as member of the Seabird Group Committee being responsible for their social media accounts and has been intensely involved in the delivery of the World Seabird Twitter Conferences three years in a row (including chairing duties).

When Saskia isn’t studying (sea)birds in some shape or form, preferably on remote islands, she is either “out and about” with Aura, her lovely Husky-Labrador cross, or drawing on her desk.

Follow Saskia on Twitter @saswisch

Natalia Zielonka

Social Media Support Officer

Natalia is a PhD student at the University of East Anglia where she primarily studies the diversity and ecosystem functions of birds across global fruit systems. Her work is split across intensively managed grape and mango farms in the Caatinga biome in North-eastern Brazil with the SUFICA project, and also across British vineyards with the support from the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain Scheme. Natalia’s work is diverse and includes monitoring of birds and invertebrate communities, acoustic monitoring of biodiversity and using experimental methods to quantify ecosystem services delivery. Natalia hopes that her work will help to inform ecological intensification and sustainable management in these growing industries.

Before her PhD, Natalia worked on the acoustic ecology of the elusive European Nightjar in Sherwood Forest, before falling in love with waders, when she studied the breeding ecology of the majestic Eurasian Curlew in the Brecks, before working as a research assistant for Project Godwit in 2019.

Follow Natalia on Twitter @Nat_B_Zielonka

Non-committee members reporting to the Engagement Committee

Dr Jente Ottenburghs

Journal Support Officer

Jente is based within the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Group in Wageningen (the Netherlands). He describes himself as a curious evolutionary biologist with a passion for writing. His research focuses on the evolution of birds using the newest genomic techniques. Jente regularly writes articles for popular science websites, magazines and newspapers and has written a fantasy novel (in Dutch) and is also a stand-up comedian.

Follow Jente on Twitter @Jente_O