Your Committee

The current UKIRSC committee members are:



Cynthia Barile

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Email: | Twitter: @cynthia_barile


Holding a B.Sc. in Neuroscience and M.Sc. in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, I am currently a PhD student in the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre, at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. My research focuses on deep-diving cetaceans present in offshore Irish waters, namely sperm whales, pilot whales and beaked whales. I aim on establishing models of habitat use for these species based on bioacoustic data collected using fixed bottom-mounted autonomous acoustic recorders as part of a Woodside Petroleum LTD study and ObSERVE-Acoustic, from 2014 to 2016. Part of my project focuses on the impacts of anthropogenic noise in the ocean, particularly caused by seismic surveys, which will lead me to investigate its effects on sperm whales and pilot whales. Additionally, I aim to develop an approach to automatically detect on-axis sperm whale clicks in my datasets, to apply acoustic methods allowing the estimation of size-classes in the population. I work under the supervision of Drs. Joanne O’Brien and Simon Berrow (GMIT), in collaboration with Woodside Petroleum LTD.




Izzy Langley

Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews

Email: | Twitter: @LangleyIzzy


I am a PhD student at the Sea Mammal Research Unit, investigating the inter-specific interactions of seal species in the UK; specifically looking at the role of grey seals in the regional harbour seal decline.

Grey and harbour seal distributions overlap outside of breeding and moulting, which makes it likely that they compete for resources through exploitative and interference competition. Recent evidence has found that they also interact through asymmetric intraguild predation. I plan to employ both spatial and population modelling methods to understand how inter-specific competition and predation could contribute to population decline.

I really value the networks I have developed through the UKIRSC community and I look forward to learning more about everyone’s research and experience working in marine mammal science.




Laura Oller

University of Abertay

Email: | Twitter: @Laura__Oller


I am a postgraduate research student based at University of Abertay, in collaboration with the Sea Mammal Research Unit.

My research focuses on understanding how grey seals cope with blubber tissue expansion. I use a physiological comparative approach to describe what strategies seals have developed differently than other mammals to be able to store fat safely. Fat storage is essential for grey seal’s survival; however, excessive fat deposition is associated with detrimental health effect in humans and other mammals. Therefore, I am interested in studying those processes that are a potential challenge for an animal of extreme fat deposition, particularly oxygen management and its downstream effects, a fundamental factor for a correct tissue function.

I look forward to sharing my fascinating project with the UKIRSC community as well as listening the wide variety of projects that are being developed by other postgraduate students.




María Pérez Tadeo

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Email: | Twitter: @mariaptadeo 

My background includes a BSc in Marine Sciences and a MSc in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.

I’m currently a PhD student at the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre in GMIT. I’m working on the population assessment of Grey (Halichoerus grypus) and Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) on the west coast of Ireland through a combination of methods (behaviour, acoustic and photo-ID techniques) and its implication for management and conservation. Part of my research if focused on the assessment of anthropogenic disturbances due to ecotourism on Grey seals.

The outcomes of this research will be used to provide policy advice and help Ireland meet legislative obligations in relation to the conservation of these species, addressing concerns that are required under the Habitats Directive and the Marine Strategy framework Directive.

Supervised by Dr Joanne O’Brien and Dr Martin Gammell, who are also carrying out research at GMIT.




Becky Phillips

Spatial and Population Ecology Research Group, Swansea University

Email: | Twitter: @TweetFromBecky


Holding a BSc in Marine Biology, and an MSc in Environmental Biology, I am a PhD student with the Spatial and Population Ecology Research Group (SPACEPOP) at Swansea University. My research is looking at multi-species space use by marine predators around the UK, looking at defining biodiversity hotspots in the marine realm with a focus on marine mammals and seabirds. Top predators are considered sentinels of marine ecosystems, as their distribution and life histories are influenced by those of their prey, and both are affected by physical and biological factors of the environment they inhabit. As such understanding predator space use and co-existence is valuable for better understanding ecosystem functioning and critically, marine planning. Whilst distributions of species in isolation are becoming more well-known, there is a need to consider multi-species assemblages to identify important ecological areas or common drivers of space use. The PhD project utilises large publicly available databases and is aiming see if there is a mismatch in ‘biodiversity’ hotspots when deconstructing components of biodiversity, to examine the congruence of measures, the factors which influence them and explore dynamic ocean management options to see if management can better include areas of high multiple biodiversity components.




Natalie Sinclair

University of St Andrews

Email: | Twitter: @natcatsin


I am a PhD student at the University of St Andrews.

I am interested in animal communication and culture. My PhD research focuses on the broadscale cultural transmission of humpback whale song in the central and eastern South Pacific Ocean. I have a passion for public engagement in science.

I am looking forward to sharing with you my findings at the next conference. I’m really excited to learn about all of your projects and make new connections.