Assessing the impact of marine pollutants on fat tissue function in seals – the PHATS project.
In collaboration with Abertay University, I am working on a team lead by Dr Kimberley Bennett on a large project called the PHATS project (Pollutants, Hormones & Adipose Tissue Science) investigating how persistent pollutants in the marine environment, such as PCBs, impact on marine mammal health by preventing them from being able to utilise the fat reserves in their blubber. We are currently focusing on studying grey seals on the Isle of May colony in Scotland, and my time is divided between fieldwork with the seals and laboratory work measuring hormone, metabolite and pollutant concentrations and tissue culture work.
Dolphin social behaviour and endocrinology
In collaboration with the Sarasota Dolphin Research Programme (SDRP) at the Mote Marine Laboratory, I am working on a project investigating whether hormone concentrations can tell us useful information about an individual’s social behaviour and affiliations. This project focuses on bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Florida, USA.
Stranding responses, UK
While working on my PhD at St Andrews I helped respond to several cetacean strandings. I still help out during strandings whenever needed, and the job can range from re-floating live animals, collecting dead ones for necropsy at the dedicated lab in Inverness or doing field necropsies of individuals that are too large to transport to try and determine cause of death.