SAC Expert panel members

SAC Expert panel members provide expert advice on scientific matters, review reports and other papers, and contribute to reviews.

Scientific Advisory Committee Expert Panel Terms of Reference.

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Professor Richard Ennos

Professor Richard Ennos

Richard Ennos is a Professor of Ecological Genetics and now Honorary Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. His broad research interests centre on the integration of genetic and evolutionary approaches into ecology, with special emphasis on how this can contribute to better guidance for conservation and management of plant, and particularly forest tree populations.

Much of Richard’s research has been based in Scotland and has involved native plants (twinflower, aspen, Arran whitebeams) and communities (native woodlands) of conservation concern.  Current interest is in developing sound policies for facilitating genetic adaptation of native tree populations to the twin threats posed by climate change and emerging pathogens.

Richard has long running collaborations with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and Forest Research. He is also a visiting Professor at SRUC.

Dr Rob Ogden - Head of Conservation Genetics at the University of Veterinary School (R(D) SVS) and the Roslin Institute

Dr. Rob Ogden

Dr Rob Ogden is Head of Conservation Genetics at the University of Veterinary School (R(D) SVS) and the Roslin Institute. His research as a conservation geneticist focuses on the production and application of molecular genetic data to inform species conservation, from intensively managed zoo populations through to wild population monitoring of terrestrial and aquatic species. Alongside conservation genetics he specialises in the development of techniques and international capacity for forensic science to support wildlife law enforcement. Rob is President of the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science (2015-2019), and a Director of TRACE Wildlife Forensics Network, a specialist NGO operating widely in Africa and Southeast Asia.

He has a strong commercial background, having co-funded two successful biotech companies and worked in the molecular diagnostics industry. In the non-profit sector he has been Head of Science and more recently Director of Conservation at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, where he led the establishment of a conservation genetics laboratory while developing the Society’s strategy for conservation science, field programmes and education.
Rob is recognised as an advisor to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime for whom he has been employed as a senior consultant and regularly participates in wildlife forensic expert group meetings. He is also a member of the IUCN Conservation Genetics Specialist Group. In academia, he is a visiting professor at Kyoto University’s Wildlife Research Centre, Japan and holds an honorary research post at Bangor University, UK. He has over 50 peer-reviewed publications with more than 2000 citations.

Rob aims to continue the development, application and promotion of cutting-edge science to biodiversity conservation, through leading novel research, managing conservation programmes and engaging at the interface of conservation science and policy.

Professor Beth Scott - University of Aberdeen

Dr. Beth Scott

Beth Scott is a Professor in Marine Ecology.  She conducts multi-disciplinary research using her expertise in marine ecology, oceanography and fisheries sciences. Her research identifies general rules in bio-physical oceanographic processes that lead to the creation of hotspots of biodiversity and predator-prey activity. Specifically, her research group defines biological and physical variables that provide the limited, patchy locations and conditions where energy is transferred across trophic levels in marine food webs. Her research team uses approaches ranging from the collection and use of fine scale (second by second) information throughout the water column as well as the analysis of large scale (100s or km) long term data sets on spatial and population dynamics.  Both scales of information are also used within simulation modelling methods which are agent based. 

Recently her research portfolio has been focused on the understanding of the effects of marine renewable energy systems on multi-trophic interactions and the methods for co-developing a Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) decision-support system with a range of stakeholders (industry, government, NGOs, etc) to better incorporate ecosystem service knowledge and values into effective policies.  

Professor Ben Wilson - University of the Highlands and Islands and the Scottish Association for Marine Science

Professor Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson is Professor of Energy at the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Scottish Association for Marine Science. He is interested in the ecological interactions between industrial activities at sea and marine vertebrates, particularly marine mammals and fish.

Ben's work on Scottish dolphins has involved long-running collaborations with biologists at the Universities of Aberdeen and St. Andrews.

His current research focuses on the acoustic interactions between sensitive species and renewable energy installations, fish farming and oil and gas decommissioning.

Ben has worked on fish, pinnipeds and cetaceans in a variety of countries but primarily Scotland, the US and Canada.

Dr Sarah Woodin - University of Aberdeen

Profile picture of Sarah Woodin

Sarah Woodin is a Reader in Plant Ecology in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen. Her research interests are in the effects of drivers of change on native plant species, vegetation communities and ecosystem process in the British uplands and the Arctic. Sarah is involved in projects investigating ecological impacts of climate change, herbivory, land management practices and atmospheric nitrogen deposition, often in interaction with each other. Much of Sarah's research in Scotland is conservation based, undertaken in collaboration with NatureScot.

Sarah is also very involved in teaching and does her best to get undergraduate and masters students interested in plants! Sarah currently oversees the suite of Masters programmes which cover ecology, conservation, environmental science and marine science, at the University of Aberdeen.


Professor Rob Marrs

profile photo of SAC Expert panel member Professor Rob Marrs

Rob is the Emeritus Bulley Professor of Applied Plant Biology at the University of Liverpool. His broad research interests are restoring and conserving plant communities, with most work done in the British uplands. Much of his research has involved the use of manipulative management treatments in long-term experiments.

Current research involves experiments on bracken recovery after long-term control treatment and the long-term effects of the removal of sheep grazing in a range of upland plant communities.

Rob has long-running collaborations with the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the James Hutton Institute (where he holds an Honorary Fellowship) as well as the Environmental Change Network and the Ecological Continuity Trust.  He is Vice-Chairman and Trustee of the Field Studies Council.

Dr Jen Smart

profile photo of SAC Expert panel member Dr Jen Smart

Jen works at the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science where she is Head of Conservation Science for Scotland & Northern Ireland, providing strategic leadership and support to a team of 15-20 scientists.  

She has 26 years’ experience in conservation.  Having gained a PhD at the University of East Anglia in 2006 on sea-level rise mitigation strategies for breeding redshanks she moved to the RSPB where she has 15 years’ post-doctoral experience in avian population ecology and applied conservation science.  Her research has focused on testing solutions to conservation problems especially around breeding waders declines, agri-environment schemes and predation, though she has expertise in a range of species, habitat and conservation issues.  She is passionate about science communication because of its importance for ensuring that science influences policy and practice. She has published over 40 scientific papers and reports. She hold an Honorary Lectureship at the University of East Anglia, and is Chair of the International Wader Study Group.

Dr Penelope Whitehorn

profile photo of SAC Expert panel member Dr Penelope Whitehorn

Penelope Whitehorn is an ecologist specialising in the effects of land management on pollinators. She completed her BSc in Zoology in 2003 (University of Edinburgh) and her MSc in Wildlife Biology and Conservation in 2005 (Napier University). She then worked for a number of conservation organisations in the UK, Eastern Africa and the US. During her PhD at the University of Stirling she assessed impacts of habitat fragmentation, inbreeding and parasites on bumblebees, and much of her research since then has focussed on pollinating insects. Her postdoctoral research explored the effects of agricultural pesticides and their role in the population declines of bumblebees and other beneficial insects.

More recently, Penelope has carried out research into the broader ecological effects of land management and climate change. Since June 2017, she has been based at the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) in Germany, and since March 2019 has held a postdoctoral fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Here she leads a group using novel modelling approaches to illuminate the ecological effects of land management decisions and to provide practical solutions for linked agricultural and environmental problems. She has worked as a contributing author on the IPBES regional assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services for Europe and Central Asia, and led a research study on ‘Mainstreaming Biodiversity’, involving a global review of 144 National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans.

Kathy Dale

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Kathy Dale has a BSc (Hons) degree in Ecology from Loughborough University and an MSc in The Biology of Water Resource Management from Napier University, Edinburgh. She is a Chartered Ecologist and has thirty-five years’ professional consultancy experience. She was a Principal Consultant at EnviroCentre Limited for 14 years before retiring in November 2020.

Kathy is authoritative in the fields of Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA), Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) and industry standard ecological surveying, research and good practice. She is an accomplished aquatic ecologist with wide-ranging knowledge of freshwater and coastal environments, including habitat and botanical surveying, site assessment and management, and devising survey and monitoring strategies. She specialises in aquatic macrophytes and has a specific interest in river restoration.

Kathy was a Founder Member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and was instrumental in setting up the first Geographic Section, in Scotland.  She is driven by the strong need to recognise ecology as a profession, to improve the standards of ecological research and reporting, and for ecologists to have professional representation. For a number of years,  until November 2020,  she was a member of the University of Aberdeen School of Biological Sciences (SBS) Programme Advisory Board (PAB), advising on the skills graduates require for a career in consultancy.

Dr Laszlo Nagy

profile photo of SAC Expert panel member Dr Laszlo Nagy

Laszlo is a Lecturer at the University of Campinas, Brazil.  Prior to this, he was Science Coordinator of the Large-scale Atmosphere-Biosphere Programme in Amazonia, and held various positions in the British Isles and Europe, while pursuing a career as an independent researcher in Scotland over 20 years. 

Currently, Laszlo leads a long-term social-ecological research (LTSER) programme in the south-east Brazilian mountains (Serra da Mantiqueira Range), with components ranging from climate change, nitrogen deposition, land use, biogeochemistry and ecology of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, to stakeholder involvement in conservation and environmental education.  His books include Alpine Biodiversity in Europe (2003) and The Biology of Alpine Habitats (2009).

He is a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment and Editor-in-Chief of Plant Ecology & Diversity.