Meet The Team
Steph Wray, Chair – email@example.com
Steph carried out a PhD on brown hares at the University of Bristol in the 1990s and carried on working with protected mammal species throughout her career in as an ecological consultant, developing best practice in survey and mitigation for a range of species, for which she was awarded the Mammal Society medal in 2011. Since a post-doc project on Livingstone’s bat in the Comores, Steph has had a particular interest in bats and is a member of Natural England’s Bat Expert Panel. Steph has been a Director of Biocensus since 2011 and founded the specialist consultancy Nature Positive in 2020 where she specialises in business impacts on biodiversity, natural capital and ecosystem services.
Kate Hills, Vice Chair and Chair of Local Groups Committee
Kate has been a member of the Mammal Society since 1999 and has sat on Council previously with several roles. She is founder of Cornwall Mammal Group and sits on both the Cornwall and Devon Mammal Group committees. Her working background was with the Wildlife Trusts, but for the last 10 years she has been an ecologist at South West Water, with a new focus on invasive species.
Kate took on the role of Local Groups Representative in 2020.
Rodger Pressland, Honorary Treasurer
Rodger is a member of the Chartered Institute of Managements Accountants, with experience gained in the accountancy profession; commercial, NHS and Charity sectors. He holds a diploma in Charity Accounting, from the Institute of Chartered Accountants and an MSc in Charity Accounting and Financial Management from the Cass Business School, City University London. He plans to keep us on track financially and use his charity sector expertise to help further the Society’s aims generally.
Penny Lewns, President Penny graduated from Royal Holloway College, University of London in the 1980s with a degree in zoology and a keen interest in mammalogy, thanks to mentor and Mammal Society stalwart Dr Pat Morris. Her professional career was kick-started when she landed a job based at Bristol University undertaking a National Badger Survey, involving a 5-year long road trip in a camper van! In 1990, Penny became one of the first Ecological Consultants in the UK, running The Badger Consultancy, later renamed Protected Species Ecology. She specialises in Ecological Impact Assessments and protected species surveys, particularly for badgers, bats and dormice. Alongside her professional work, Penny has had a long involvement with The Mammal Society: as a member, as well as serving on committees and running field trips. She has been a trainer with The Mammal Society for over 15 years, and is a part-time lecturer at School of Life Long Learning, Aberystwyth University.
Merryl Gelling, Honorary Secretary
Merryl is a zoologist and professional ecologist who has worked on a wide range of British mammals over the past 20 years. As well as being Honorary Secretary for the Mammal Society, Merryl founded the Oxfordshire Mammal Group and is Director and Principal Ecologist at Spires Ecology. Recently, much of her work focuses on protected species, with an emphasis on water voles, and in bridging the gap between research and the practical application of results in real-life situations. Merryl has significant experience in the provision of training in live-capture techniques for a variety of species and now runs the Mammal Society water voles live-capture and mitigation course aimed at professional ecologists. Merryl completed her doctorate at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU, Oxford University) on health and welfare in reintroductions, using water voles as a model species, and has numerous publications on the topic, as well as co-authoring the latest version of the Water Vole Conservation Handbook.
Graham Smith, Chair of Science Advisory Committee
Graham is a Lead Scientist for the National Wildlife Management Centre (NWMC) at York, which is part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), an executive agency of Defra. He completed undergraduate study at Aberdeen University and a PhD at Bristol University looking at urban foxes and the potential control of rabies by developing a simulation model. In addition to foxes and rabies, his research has covered diseases (e.g. badgers and bovine TB, bat rabies, fox parasites), population management (e.g. rabbits) and even honey bees, Asian hornets and non-native species control. Graham has been a member of the Mammal Society since 1985, where, having spent a few years editing Short Communications in the early 2000s, he is now on the editorial board of Mammal Review and is now the Chair of Science Advisory Committee.
Roo Campbell, Conference Secretary
Roo Campbell is a Mammals Advisor with NatureScot. Roo researched his DPhil on demography and life-history of the Eurasian beaver at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), University of Oxford, and the University of South-Eastern Norway. He has an MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation from UEA in Norwich and a BSc (Hons) in Zoology from the University of Glasgow. Past work includes in situ wildcat conservation manager for Scottish Wildcat Action; GPS research on the behaviour of wild-living cats in Scotland; leading the first survey of beavers in the Tay river system; collaborative research on the behaviour of striated caracara in the Falkland Island; surveying wildcats for the Cairngorm Wildcat Project; small mammal and bat monitoring in southern England; and monitoring the beavers released at Ham Fen in Kent.
Debbie Alston, Training Committee Chair
Debbie has worked in a variety of conservation and ecology based roles for more than 20 years. She is now a part-time Lecturer in Biodiversity at the University of Derby and an Associate Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University teaching, amongst other topics, mammal identification and ecology to undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Debbie is an experienced trainer who has run many natural history based training courses for a variety of audiences including the Mammal Society.She was one of the founder members of the Derbyshire Mammal Group in 2003 and has been the County Recorder since 2008 and Chair since 2014. She was co-author of the Mammals of Derbyshire, the County Mammal Atlas, which was published in 2012.
Dawn is a Head of Life Sciences at Keele University. She is also chair of the Sussex Mammal Group. Her research interests are in small mammals, carnivores, landscape ecology, wildlife management and human-wildlife interactions.
Sally is Chief Executive Officer of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), the leading professional body for ecologists and environmental managers in the UK and Ireland. In addition to overseeing the running of the Institute she currently leads on the CIEEM’s professional standards and professional development work and is actively involved in policy engagement and outreach work. Sally is a member of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.
Ecological consultant Tim has spent much of his career accidentally working on a variety of mammals in the UK and abroad. His earliest memory of mammal fieldwork was as an eight-year-old boy fetching Longworth traps from the undergrowth in Woodchester Park for the late Derek Yalden. In a quirk of fate, and after a stint of chasing mink around Cheshire for his BSc and MRes dissertations, Tim returned to Woodchester Park 16 years later but this time to work at the badger research unit. He spent ten years here during which time he completed his PhD on the effects of badgers and livestock on ground nesting birds. This was part of a wider project that was looking at the interactions of many UK mammals in relation to badgers. As a result, this “ornithologist” spent most of his time designing and carrying out monitoring programmes of many UK mammals.
Post-doctoral Science Officer – Frazer Coomber firstname.lastname@example.org
Frazer joined the Mammal Society in February 2018 as a post-doctoral research officer. He completed his PhD at the University of Genoa where he studied the impact of shipping traffic on Cuvier’s beaked whales in the Mediterranean Sea. Frazer is passionate about all mammals and is interested in the effect of human disturbance on their ecology.
Data & Information Officer – Charlie Le Marquand email@example.com
After completing her BSc in Zoology at Swansea University, Charlie gained an MRes in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation from Imperial College London and joined the Mammal Society as data and information officer in October 2019. Her research has included investigating the distribution of hedgehogs on the island of Guernsey using footprint tunnels and citizen science, looking at habitat usage of foxes in urban parks using camera traps and modelling how urbanisation as a land-use change affects local biodiversity.
Janet covers all areas of finance and membership, including: monetary transactions; liaising with members, suppliers, bankers and advisors; increasing the efficiency of financial and membership systems, and producing annual accounts and financial reports for the Trustees. She is a qualified chartered accountant with over 30 years accounting experience in the not-for-profit sector, having worked for the NHS, The Woodland Trust, Barnados & 4 Children, to name but a few. Janet’s working days are Monday to Wednesday. When she is not working, she loves walking, gardening and being a volunteer for her local Dorset Wildlife Trust.
Beth joined Mammal Society in October 2018 as Data & Information Officer. She has now left this role to pursue a PhD at Nottingham Trent University, but is still sticking by us as our Student Representative. In this role Beth is coordinating the University Mammal Challenge (UMAC) and organising the 2020 Mammal Society Student Conference.
PR & Marketing Officer – Jo Wright
Jo has been part of the team since 2017. She has been a marketer since the mid-90s and has a passion for communication, with a particular soft spot for translating scientific language and pulling together our e-bulletins. This is Jo’s first role working for a wildlife charity and she is really enjoying learning about Britain’s incredible range of mammals. Her current favourites are moles and she’s really hoping to spot a live one when she is out on one of her regular walks with the Mammal Mapper app. Jo’s normal working days are Monday to Wednesday.
Communications & Engagement Officer – Sophie Webb firstname.lastname@example.org
Sophie also completed her BSc in Zoology at Swansea University, but went to work in an animal movement lab using the latest tagging technologies to discover the secret lives of animals. From there she worked as a Field Biologist, leading educational trips throughout South East Asia in varying ecosystems, before returning to the UK to work with children. Sophie loves sharing all things science, and works through the charity’s socials to spark a lasting connection with followers to the natural world.
Broadcaster and children’s author Zeb Soanes is the Mammal Society’s first patron. Zeb is passionate about the natural world and looks forward to sharing the Society’s valuable work with a wider audience.