Your Committee

The current UKIRSC committee members are:

Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews 

Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @PhilippaWrigh16


I’m a PhD student based at the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), University of St Andrews. My PhD aims to investigate the effects of offshore wind farms on seal prey quality and seal diving behaviour, movements, energetics, and spatial distributions. My work falls within the scope of the Predators and Prey Around Renewable Energy Developments (PrePARED) project in collaboration with SMRU Consulting, BioSS, University of Aberdeen, University of Exeter, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and Marine Scotland Science.

I am looking forward to being a part of the committee this year and meeting you all in January.

Sophie Smith

University of Highland and Islands (Shetland)

Email[email protected] | Twitter: @sophieafsmith96


Hi, I am a SUPERDTP PhD student based at UHI Shetland, working in collaboration with Scottish Association for Marine Science, Heriot-Watt University, and Marine Scotland. It has been historically documented that Shetland is an important geographic location towards high numbers of harbour porpoise individuals, yet relatively little is known about harbour porpoises in this area. Therefore, my research aims to understand their occurrence, behaviour and habitat use utilising land-, drone- and acoustic-based surveys.

This is my first year being involved in the UKIRSC committee which I am excited to be a part of and learning more about the research that is being conducted by fellow scientists in the marine mammal field!

Laia Garrobé

University of Highland and Islands (Shetland)

Email[email protected] | Twitter: @_garrobe


Hi, I’m a SUPER DTP PhD student working in collaboration between the biology department at the University of St Andrews and the electrical engineering department at the University of Strathclyde. My work lies in the intersection of deep learning and underwater bioacoustics, looking at all the ways these new algorithms can be used to aid in the processing of large acoustic datasets. While I plan to work on data from across the cetacean taxa, I am currently focusing on the loud and chatty sperm whales.

I had a great time attending the UKIRSC student conference in the past years, and I am excited to be coming back now as a member of the committee. See you all in January!

Maeva Terrapon

Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews 

Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @MTerrapon


Hi Everyone! After completing my MSc in Marine Mammal Science at the University of St Andrews, I am now a PhD student at the Sea Mammal Research Unit, investigating the distribution, movements, and feeding behaviour of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the tropical southwestern Indian Ocean.

Killer whales in low latitudes worldwide are challenging to study due to their offshore habitat and low probability of encounter. In addition to compiling existing opportunistic sightings and photo-identification data into regional databases, I will use passive acoustic monitoring and stable isotope methods to assess the presence and movements of these cryptic animals throughout the region.

I am looking forward to sharing the future results of this project with the UKIRSC community, learning more about the research conducted in this field by other postgraduate students, and sharing my passion for marine mammals (and cheese!) with everyone.

Jasmine Stavenow

University College Cork

Email: [email protected] | Twitter@Jas_Stw


I’m a PhD researcher at University College Cork and MaREI in Ireland, where I study distribution, abundance, and behavior of several cetacean species in relation to offshore wind farm sites, using primarily acoustics analysis. I’m from Sweden, and previous to my current position, I worked at the National Veterinary Institute in Sweden on the stranding network and necropsies of various marine mammals. My primary study areas include marine mammal ecology in relation to anthropogenic impacts. The development and adoption of new technologies, as a way to push research methodologies further, are also topics that inspire me.

I’m a strong believer in collaboration, especially across disciplines, as I think a variety of perspectives are necessary to find sustainable answers to the issues we face as a society. On my spare time I enjoy everything ocean and nature, especially sailing, and to spend time with my senior dog. Additionally, I enjoy painting with water colours and crafts in general.

I’m excited to join the UKIRSC committee as a new member, to plan the next conference, get to know many of the members, and learn as much as possible I from the current research that is paving the way.

Alice Lowry

University of Liverpool

Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @alicelowry_


I am a PhD student at the University of Liverpool studying ringed seal populations in the Canadian Arctic and their responses to environmental change. My work involves stable isotope analysis of animal tissues to reconstruct trophic relationships, modelling of satellite telemetry data to investigate movement behaviour and developing novel methods for assessing both the foraging ecology and health of ringed seals over time.

I am very excited to be again part of the UKIRSC committee (and hopefully meet everyone in person) this year!

Tim Awbery

The Scottish Association for Marine Science

Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @AwberyTim


Hi, I’m Tim Awbery, I’m a SUPER DTP PhD student at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, working in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University, Marine Scotland, and the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. My work focuses on filling data gaps on minke whale abundance and distribution on the west coast of Scotland. Despite being up to 12 metres, we know relatively little about minke whales and how they use Scottish waters. My research aims to quantify how their abundance and distribution changes throughout the year using a mixture of visual and acoustic data and modelling techniques.

I really enjoyed being involved in the committee last year and am really excited to be back on the committee this year. I very much look forward to meeting the UKIRSC community again and learning more about the innovative and exciting research being undertaken by fellow early career researchers.

Alexandra Tranganida

University of Aberdeen

Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @tranganida


I am a PhD student based at the University of Aberdeen, studying blubber physiology using molecular techniques. My work involves analysing blubber samples collected from stranded marine mammals by the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme and the University of Iceland, and trying to identify molecular markers that can indicate the stress or health condition of animals.

I am excited to be part of the UKIRSC committee and very much looking forward to meeting this year’s community and hearing all about your exciting projects!