Gemma took up the role of Director in September 2014 after more than six years working at HWDT. Starting out as Education Assistant in April 2008, Gemma graduated to the role of Education Officer and was also working in fundraising before taking maternity leave in 2013.
Prior to working with the Trust, Gemma gained an MSc in Ecology at the University of Aberdeen where her studies focused on cetacean ecology and she was employed in the south of England in the field of marine environmental education. She has more recently completed her PGCE in secondary science at the University of Leicester.
The Director post is generously funded by The John Ellerman Foundation.
Alison joined the Trust in September 2015 as HWDT's Deputy Director and Education Officer. Alison has a degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of Essex and previously worked in marketing and project management.
During a volunteer placement with WDC in 2010 she encountered her first wild dolphin (and loved it!); inspiring her passion for whale and dolphin conservation and a career change. Since then she has worked as Education Officer for ORCA, starting up the charities first community-based education project in the North East of England and as Conservation Officer for WDC based in the Moray Firth.
The Deputy Director post is generously funded by The John Ellerman Foundation.
Volunteer Coordinator & Marketing Officer
Morven is tasked with recruiting and managing volunteers - both land based placements and aboard Silurian. Morven is also charged with promoting the Trust and managing the image libraries. She is also responsible for managing the Trust's membership and sponsorship schemes and engaging with supporters.
Prior to working with the Trust, Morven gained a BSc in Environmental Management and Technology from Heriot Watt University. Before moving to the Isle of Mull, Morven had no idea that Hebridean seas were so diverse. She became involved with the Trust as a volunteer in 2006 and quickly learned how special the local marine environment was.
Community Engagement Officer
Pippa is responsible for HWDT’s Engagement Department, and has been part of the team since June 2014, after graduating from the University of Leeds with a BSc in Human Physiology (International). Having worked as HWDT’s Education Officer prior to this role, Pippa is experienced in delivering environmental education to a wide variety of audiences. Prior to this role, Pippa worked as the Youth Worker at Tobermory High School, supporting the school to deliver new accredited learning opportunities. She has also been involved in a number of marine conservation projects abroad, travelling to countries such as South Africa, Australia, Bali and the Maldives to assist with data collection and photo identification of cetaceans, manta rays and whale sharks. Since moving to the Isle of Mull, Pippa has fallen in love with headland watching, so can frequently be found looking out to sea, at her local headland.
Pippa's post is generously funded by The Robertson Trust and supported by players of People’s
Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills
Lauren joined the HWDT team in June 2016 to continue work on developing the Community Sightings Network. Previously Lauren was the Research Coordinator and General Manager at the Atlantic Whale Foundation (AWF) where she collected all of the data for her PhD, which she completed earlier this year. Lauren’s PhD used data collected by citizen scientists on-board whale watching boats to investigate the site fidelity, social structure and distribution of short-finned pilot whales off the south west coast of Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. Prior to this Lauren studied for a degree in Marine Biology at the University of Portsmouth. Her main research interests are the use of non-invasive research methods and citizen science to study cetaceans. In her spare time, Lauren loves to be outside exploring nature and watching wildlife.
Lauren’s post is generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Dr Frazer Coomber
Marine Biodiversity Officer
Frazer began working for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust in January 2016. In the past he has worked on several whale watching and scientific research boats around the world. His main research interests are the effects of anthropogenic impacts on marine life. He completed his PhD at the University of Genoa in April 2016, on the topic of assessing impacts of maritime traffic noise pollution on Cuvier’s beaked whales in the Mediterranean Sea. Previous to this he studied at the University of Bangor, Wales where he learnt ecological habitat modelling techniques using harbour porpoise sightings in Cardigan Bay. Besides his interest in marine mammals Frazer is also a keen climber, outdoor and water sports enthusiast.
Frazer's post is generously funded by Scottish Natural Heritage.
After qualifying as a Yachtmaster in 2009, Edd took an opportunity to sail on Song of the Whale, observing his first whale in 2010 and later qualifying as an instructor. After a period skippering on yacht deliveries, he went on to work with St Andrews University and the expedition yacht Pelagic Australis in the Southern Ocean in 2012. During this time he visited a number of exciting places, but decided to go back to Song of the Whale after finding he missed the research aspect of the work. Edd’s jobs and hobbies have taken him all over the world, often under sail; he has sailed about 70,000nm! In 2014 Edd worked on board Silurian for the first time and recently completed his WiSe Scheme skipper’s course. Edd will be the main skipper on Silurian in 2015. When Edd is not at sea he is normally working on boat maintenance or on holiday either scuba diving, surfing, rock climbing, snowboarding or mountaineering.
Pauline joined HWDT in 2014 working as a seasonal assistant in the shop and visitor centre. She took over the management role in the summer of 2015. As a long-term supporter of environmental charities, with a keen interest in the natural world, Pauline has taken a change of direction from education to join HWDT. She is currently studying an honours degree with the Open University to complement her work with the Trust.
Ella joined the Trust in May 2016 and is our Centre Co-ordinator. Her love of Cetaceans began as a child, watching porpoises off the coast of west Wales. It was here that she enrolled on her first cetacean surveying course - since then she has been hooked on working with and helping others to learn more about these enigmatic marine mammals.
Ella graduated in 2014 with an MSc in Environmental Biology, Conservation and Resource Management from Swansea University. During her studies, she focused her research in part, on harbour porpoise behaviour in tidal race. Between studies in 2011, Ella took up a position as Wildlife Tourguide at Seafari Adventures in the Inner Hebrides. It was in this role that she fell in love with the west coast and also saw her first baleen whale - a moment so exciting that she almost fell in the sea. She has also worked across the Bay of Biscay as a Wildlife Officer for ORCA and also worked supporting Wildlife Productions as Operations Co-ordinator at a camera hire facility. Ella is delighted to be back engaging with the public on a one to one basis in conservation again.
Karen joined the Trust in December 2015 and works part time as HWDT’s Finance Officer. Karen can be found in the office paying invoices, wages and fending off utility company sales calls.
Outside of the Trust, Karen enjoys exploring Mull, trying to get her dog round dog agility courses and photography. Karen is also a keen cake decorator and is the proud winner of both the MishNish Bake Off and the Novelty Cake section of the Tobermory Horticultural Society Flower Show.
Simon Van Damm
Simon grew up in Holland. He has a degree in Physical Education, and spent a year in New Zealand studying Outdoor Education.
As Holland lacked wilderness and mountains, Simon moved to North Wales where he worked as an Outdoor Instructor taking groups from all ages on adventurous activities like mountain walking, climbing, kayaking, mining and gorge scrambling.
Last winter Simon sailed around the Atlantic with Tall Ships Youth Trust. “I booked one voyage to the Canaries, and before I knew it joined the same boat to the Caribbean, once there I realised I had to finish the journey and sailed back to the UK as well.”
Simon is looking forward to spending more time sailing and is excited to take part in the research and conservation of the local wildlife.
Relief First Mate
Charly has recently joined us as first mate after working for two seasons on the 30 metre Brig T.S Royalist. She has always loved the sea, having been involved with Sea Cadets from the age of 10 and is excited to combine this passion with cetacean research. “Seeing dolphins is always spectacular and I can’t wait to learn more about them. I can’t even imagine what it is like to encounter a whale!”. After taking part in the recent UHI and Education trips on board Silurian, Charly is now off to take part in an international exchange with the Spirit of New Zealand Trust in Auckland, before returning back to us this June.
Photo Identification Volunteer
Chris has always had a passionate interest for wildlife and the environments they inhabit, and joined the Trust this season as the Photo Identification Volunteer. He studied Conservation and Environmental Science at Nottingham Trent University. During his studies he developed a specific interest in marine mammal research and conservation, and gained valuable experiences during placements with the Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch on the Isle of Man, and with Sea Watch Foundation in Wales. On these placements Chris carried out Photo-ID research of Risso’s dolphins and bottlenose dolphins, and is excited to focus on photo-ID of orcas and minke whales during his placement with the Trust. He has also completed additional courses with BDMLR, ORCA and JNNC. He is a highly keen amateur wildlife photographer and his favourite animal is no other than the Risso’s dolphin!
Community Engagement Volunteer
Siobhàn is the HWDT Community Engagement Volunteer for the 2017 season. She has a BSc in Environmental Geoscience, an MSc in Climate Change and has undertaken a number of science communication and public engagement roles. This is not her first time volunteering on conservation projects; having previously worked with pandas in China and loggerhead sea turtles in Greece. Siobhàn worked for several years researching ocean physics and became enamoured with cetaceans after encounters with curious Humpback whales while at sea. As the community engagement volunteer Siobhàn is excited about the opportunity to inspire and inform other people about the cetaceans of the beautiful Hebrides.
Siobhàn has climbed down a crevasse on Antarctica, hugged a panda and likes to knit
Research Vessel Support Volunteer
Matt is the Research Vessel Support Volunteer for the 2017 season. His interest in marine biology began when he lived near the ocean in California and was lucky enough to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium on a regular basis. He graduated from Swansea University in the summer of 2016 with a BSc in Marine Biology and he has a keen interest in the anthropogenic impacts on cetaceans’ behaviour and the need to conserve cetaceans and their habitats. Although this is his first time working as a volunteer on conservation projects on this scale he has taken part in activities aimed at protecting and improving the marine environment and conservation and research work in places as diverse as Pembrokeshire and Puerto Rico.