I am a Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews, where I work between the Centre for Research into Environmental and Ecological Modelling (CREEM) and the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU). My research interests are inter-disciplinary on the interfaces of ecology, statistics, geography, and computing. Broadly, I work on spatial ecology and conservation problems, particularly modelling species distributions, analysing telemetry data, movement modelling, and the ecology of top predators.
My background is from a different field altogether. I have an undergraduate degree in Astrophysics, and worked in financial services in the UK and Australia for 9 years, in roles at Standard Chartered bank, Admiral car insurance, Australian Commmunications Authority, HBOS, and Lloyds. I worked between Marketing, Risk, and Finance, starting as a SAS programmer through to a Customer Insight Manager. I led a team of analysts to develop pricing strategies of credit cards through multi-platform test and learn programs, and project managed within large-scale data migration projects.
Driven by a passion for science, I changed careers and graduated with an MRes in Environmental Biology from the Unversity of St Andrews in 2010. My thesis was to develop a grey seal pup production model using a state-space approach, written in WinBugs, and supervised by Prof. Jason Matthiopoulos. I then began working as a Research Fellow in the Sea Mammal Research Unit. My portfolio PhD was entitled ‘Spatial ecology of marine top predators’.
As a computer programmer in Financial Services, I worked with (what is now known as) Big Data, and when switching careers I have found it to be extremely useful to apply the same optimisation and automation programming techniques to ecological data.
*Thanks to Monica Arso @SMRU for the photo of harbour seals hauling out in Orkney.