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Fiona Jones

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Penguinologist/science communicator

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".

Thursday 1st Oct 2020, 10.30am

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...

Seabird monitoring - witnesses in the wild