Previous staff and students have gone on to work in a range of different research and management posts across the world.


Oihane Fernandez (PhD, Research Fellow 2015-2024)

Oihane joined our team in 2015 to complete her PhD. She studied the occurrence and behaviour of marine mammals in relation to anthropogenic developments, environmental variables and prey distribution using passive and active acoustics.


Virginia Iorio (Hons, PhD, Research Fellow 2017-2023)Virginia Iorio

Virginia joined our team as an Honours student in 2017, completed her PhD here in 2022 and worked as a research fellow at the field station. 



Isla Graham (Research Fellow 2011-2023)Isla Graham

Isla joined our team in 2011 and worked on applied research to support sustainable energy developments and the conservation and management of marine mammals.


Tim Barton (Fieldwork Officer 1996-2021)

Tim joined our team in 1996 and as our Fieldwork Office provides core support and technical expertise for all our projects. Tim was also our senior boat skipper.


Fiona Coyle (MSc Student 2019)

A year after graduating her undergraduate degree in Zoology from the University of Aberdeen, with her undergraduate thesis focussing on cetacean diets, Fiona started her MSc in Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology at the University.

Fiona’s project focussed on investigating whether there is geographical variation in the size structure of bottlenose dolphin on the east coast of Scotland. For this project Fiona followed her passion for cetacean research, using data from photo-ID surveys, collected from the Field Station and the University of St Andrews' Sea Mammal Research Unit.

Katie MacDonald (MSc Student 2019)

Katie studied for an MSc in Marine Conservation at the University of Aberdeen. She completed her BSc in Marine Biology at Aberdeen in 2018. Katie's main interests are in the effects of climate change and offshore renewables on the marine ecosystem.

Katie's project at the Field Station investigated potential tracking biases in fulmars and harbour seals. She compared the size structure and sex ratio of harbour seals from aerial photographs taken at Loch Fleet to the size structure and sex ratio of captures in tracking studies. In fulmars, she investigated intrinsic markers from feathers that can indicate the foraging strategies of individuals, which can be compared to the foraging strategies found in tracking studies. If biases are found, it could indicate that caution should be taken when applying findings from tracking studies to whole populations.

Sherece Thompson (MSc Student 2019)

Sherece graduated from the University of Greenwich in 2018 with a first-class honour’s degree in Animal Conservation and Biodiversity. Her undergraduate dissertation explored the residency of harbour seals near Sherece’s home town in Kent, UK. Sherece has a great passion and enthusiasm for the marine environment, with a special focus on seals.

Sherece started her MSc in Marine Conservation with the University of Aberdeen in September 2018. Her project at the Field Station investigated foraging strategies of harbour seals. She was specifically interested in assessing the seals as individuals and creating categories of foraging types which conform to specific foraging characteristics. This was just a small part of the puzzle which enables scientists to better understand harbour seal ecology, thus adding accuracy to models which predict their behavioural responses. Such models are valuable management tools, especially here in the Moray Firth.


Laura Williamson (PhD 2018)

Laura was a PhD student funded by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS) and the University of Aberdeen.

She was based at the University of Aberdeen in collaboration with the Lighthouse Field Station and Marine Scotland Science.

Her project aimed to investigate the spatio-temporal variation in harbour porpoise distribution. She performed species distribution modelling using acoustic detections from CPODs and fine-scale oceanographic data to determine fine-scale factors that influence harbour porpoise distribution and activity.

Previously, Laura also carried out her MRes at the field station where she compared different harbour porpoise survey methods to see if digital video and acoustic surveys generate reliable estimates of relative density when compared to visual surveys.


Alice Lowry (MSc Student)

Alice was a masters student from the University of York and carried out a research placement at the field station as part of her MSc in Marine Environmental Management.

She graduated from the University of Exeter with a BSc in Conservation Biology and Ecology in 2013 and has since worked as a laboratory and ecological field assistant in the UK and on marine conservation projects in North Cyprus and the Maldives.

She was based at the field station for two months over the summer of 2017 and her project reviewed techniques for monitoring harbour seal prey abundance in key foraging areas in the Moray Firth.

Antoine Grissot (Intern)

Antoine is a French Student who is finished a MSc degree in Evolutionary Biology and Ecology at University of Rennes (France) and an Engineering degree of Agronomy at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse (ENSAT, France).

To complete his formation, he carried out a 6 months internship at the Lighthouse Field Station in 2017, working on Northern Fulmar phenology and timing of moult using geolocation data. 

His interests are seabirds and marine ecology, with a focus on behaviour and sexual selection.

Daisy Burnell (MSc Student)

Daisy’s interests lie with the interaction between marine top predators, especially seabirds, and the expanding marine industry in Scotland. She was a student from the University of Aberdeen on the MSc Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology programme and conducted her masters research project at the field station during the summer of 2017.

Her research project consisted of tagging fulmars, breeding on Eynhallow, with GPS trackers to map their foraging distributions. She hoped to identify the extent of overlap between these foraging distributions and proposed marine renewable sites off the Orkney coast.


Jennifer Coxon (Honorary Research Assistant)

Jennifer joined us for three months over the summer of 2017 as an honorary research assistant. She graduated from the University of St Andrews with a BSc (Hons) Marine Biology degree in 2016 and has since spent time interning with the marine mammal team at JNCC.

She was involved with a Royal Society funded project focusing on scientific ‘Local Heroes’ Hugh Miller and George Romanes, alongside assisting with the ongoing Lighthouse research programmes. Jennifer returned to the University of St Andrews in September 2017 to study for an MSc in Marine Mammal Science.  

Natalie Wards (BSc 2017)

Natalie completed her BSc at the University and was volunteering at the field station for the summer of 2016 to gain experience working with marine top predators.

Nora Höög (BSc 2017)

Nora completed her BSc in Zoology at the University and was based at the field station for her honours project as well as to gain experience working with marine mammals, during summer 2016.

Her honours project was researching whether the extent of the skin lesions on bottlenose dolphins could be an indication of the individuals' health.

Saliza Bono

Saliza is from Malaysia and carried out a MSc by research at the Field Station in 2017 year. Her research focused on the responses of harbour porpoises to the construction of an offshore windfarm in the Moray Firth. She monitored the changes in the occurrence of harbour porpoises in the windfarm site and a control area using passive acoustic monitoring. She also be assisted our research team investigating the responses of other marine mammals.

Saliza graduated from James Cook University, Australia with an undergraduate degree in Marine Science. She also volunteered in multiple organisations in the past such as the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit (MUCRU) and MareCet.

She aims to assist with the research and conservation program of the dolphin populations in her home country after she graduates.


Charlotte Coxon (MSc 2016)

Charlotte graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Marine and Freshwater Biology from Edinburgh Napier University in 2015. She continued her studies at the University of Aberdeen as a MSc Environmental Science student.

Her masters project focussed on the foraging distribution of GPS-tagged harbour seals in relation to offshore wind farm developments within the Moray Firth.


Annabel Plumeridge (MSc 2015)

Annabel carried out an external research placement at the field station as part of her MSc in Marine Environmental Management at the University of York.

Her project focused on impacts of port and harbour development on the bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth SAC. She is interested in the effects of underwater noise on marine mammals and how to mitigate its impacts.

She is currently working for GoBe consultants.

Georgia Conolly (MSc Student 2015)

Georgia was a student on the Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology MSc. She worked on her MSc thesis at the field station carrying out an analysis of fulmar geolocation activity data collected from the breeding fulmars on Eynhallow, exploring links between nocturnal foraging behaviour and bathymetry.

Georgia is a keen diver and is the Coordinator for Seasearch in Scotland, a national project which trains SCUBA divers to record the marine life and habitats they see on their dives around Britain.

Currently Georgia works at the RSPB

Enrico Pirotta (PhD 2015)

Enrico's PhD project focused on the assessment of the population consequences of human disturbance on bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth. Specifically, he modelled the effects of boat interactions on dolphin foraging behaviour to understand how this translates into long-term changes in population dynamics. He was a student at the University of Aberdeen, in collaboration with the University of St Andrews and funded by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS).

Before coming to Scotland, Enrico worked on the ecology and conservation of cetacean populations in the Mediterranean Sea. He graduated from the University of St Andrews with an MRes in Marine Mammal Science in 2010.

Currently Enrico is working for Washington State University.

Ewan Edwards (PhD 2015)

Ewan was a PhD student funded by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS) and the University of Aberdeen College of Life Sciences and Medicine, based at the Lighthouse in collaboration with the University of St Andrews and Marine Scotland Science. His project was to investigate the impact of commercial fisheries on northern fulmars from Scottish colonies.

Previously, Ewan worked for the British Antarctic Survey as a Zoological Field Assistant and Winter Base Commander at Bird Island Research Station, South Georgia. He graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2007 with a degree in Marine & Environmental Biology.

Ewan currently works at Marine Scotland Science.

James Chapman (BSc 2015)

James is a Marine Biology student at the University of Aberdeen. With a strong sailing background his main areas of interest within Marine Biology are the acoustic effects of human activity especially around the marine renewables industry as it develops.

At the field station he worked on his Honours project "Does spoil dumping displace bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth SAC?".

Karen Keegan (Erasmus 2015)

Karen is in her final year of a Zoology BSc at University College Cork, Ireland and has a keen interest in an array of subjects including marine mammals and ornithology.

She spent 12 weeks working at the Lighthouse Field Station and took on a bottlenose dolphin photogrammetry project contributing to the final year of her BSc. She hopes to pursue an MSc in a related field after she completes her undergraduate degree.


Eileen Hesse (MSc 2014)

Eileen carried out her MSc project at the field station focusing on the feasibility of remotely assessing harbour seal body condition using photogrammetry and 3D modelling.

Jessica Wingfield (MRes 2014)

Jessica's masters research focused on seasonal and daily patterns in bottlenose dolphin presence and ship traffic in the Moray Firth, and how the two might be related. This work involved the analysis of CPOD acoustic detection data and the processing of AIS ship-track data.

Jessica currently works for Fisheries and Oceans Canada where she monitors the coastal underwater soundscapes at various locations around Nova Scotia, Canada for the presence of baleen whales and anthropogenic noise using passive acoustic recorders.

Mariel ten Doeschate (Msc 2014)

Mariel carried out her MSc thesis in collaboration with the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme in Inverness.

Her project focused on spatial and temporal variability in stranding patterns and occurrence of cetaceans along the east coast of Scotland.

Mariel is now based in Inverness and working for the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (

Sarah Chapman

Sarah joined the field station for the summer of 2014 to work on the bottlenose dolphin photo-identification project with the primary role of assisting with fieldwork, data entry and image processing.

Sarah graduated from Southampton University with a BSc Environmental Science degree in 2012 and has since spent her time gaining experience in conservation organisations.

For the last year, she has worked for the British Antarctic Survey as a Marine Data Assistant to create an archive of marine metadata from scientific research cruises for the last 20 years.


Saskia Wischnewski (BSc 2013)

After her honours project on fulmar reproductive behaviour in Orkney, Saskia carried out fieldwork on islands in the North Sea and in New Caledonia. She is now carrying out a research masters in seabird ecology at the University of Cork, Ireland.


Lucy Quinn (PhD 2012)

Lucy’s PhD research was identifying non-breeding foraging areas of the northern fulmar and investigating whether individual differences in area use affects subsequent reproduction or survival. To do this, a combination of tracking birds at sea from different colonies and analyses of feather metal loadings and stable isotope analysis was carried out.

Lucy’s PhD took her to Orkney, Ireland and Iceland. She is now headed south to Bird Island, where she will spend the next two Antarctic summers working as a seabird ecologist for British Antarctic Survey (

Holly Fearnbach (PhD 2012)

Holly completed her PhD at Aberdeen in 2012, having studied on an overseas split degree program, co-supervised by Dr John Durban.

She continues to work on cetacean demography with NOAA in San Diego.

Rachael Plunkett

Rachael is an Aberdeen graduate with a masters in marine mammal science from St Andrews and worked with all our long-term research programmes, especially the bottlenose dolphin photo-identification project in the summers of 2012 and 2013.

She is now a Project Scientist at SMRU marine (

Siân Tarrant

Siân worked as a field technician at the Lighthouse, supporting our research on marine mammals and offshore wind farms.

Siân volunteered with the Lighthouse on Eynhallow in 2012. She graduated from the University of St Andrews with a degree in Marine Biology in 2013 and has since worked on a number of pinniped research projects in Scotland, the sub-Antarctic and South America.

Tessa Van Heumen

Tessa worked with us as an intern in the summer of 2012 as part of her degree in Applied Biology at the University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch, Holland.

While in Cromarty, she carried out a research project using passive acoustic monitoring (PODs) to investigate the seasonal occurrence of bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises in the Moray Firth.


Line Cordes (MSc 2007, PhD 2011)

Line carried out an individual-based study of harbour seal demography and pupping phenology from 2007 to 2011 which formed the basis of her Masters degree dissertation, and subsequent PhD.

Her research interests centre around the application of long-term individual-based studies in assessing the impacts of environmental variation and anthropogenic activities on population dynamics.

On finishing her PhD Line began a post-doc involved in analysis of acoustic data on a large-scale project looking at the impact of seismic surveys on cetaceans in the Moray Firth.

Line is now a visiting researcher at the Department of Fish and Wildlife at Colorado State University. She is writing up her PhD for publication and helping with a few projects in Colorado.

She is still involved at the Lighthouse and the long-term collection of individual-based data of harbour seals in order to investigate temporal trends in survival and fecundity.