I have always been fascinated by the Polar Regions – the harsh but beautiful landscapes, the epic stories of human exploration, and – most of all – the animals that find their home there. These creatures don’t just survive in their environment, they thrive in it, perfectly adapted to the conditions.
For my DPhil, which I carried out in the Zoology Department at the University of Oxford, I was lucky enough to study perhaps the most famous Antarctic animal – the penguin. As part of the Penguin Watch team, I examined phenology (the timings of key events, such as egg lay) and breeding success in the Pygoscelis penguins, using data from a network of remote time-lapse cameras. I also investigated ways of processing the vast amount of data generated by the camera network, including via the Penguin Watch citizen science project and the Pengbot machine learning algorithm. A definite highlight of my PhD was the amount of time I got to spend out in the field – including camping on the Antarctic Peninsula!
Prior to my DPhil, I carried out an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Oxford. I then undertook a research internship in the Palaeontology Department of the Natural History Museum, London, before carrying out an MSc in Climate Change at University College London. Having quite a broad scientific background suits me well in my new position, running Oxford Sparks!
At Oxford Sparks I love having the opportunity to share some of the amazing research taking place at the University of Oxford with all of you!
Watch "A Penguinologist's Life".
Seabird monitoring - witnesses in the wild
Seabirds – including penguins – are amongst the most threatened animals on the planet. They are also very useful indicators of wider environmental change. But how do you effectively monitor species which live in hard-to-reach places, such as Antarctica? A team of scientists at the University of Oxford has come up with a...