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RIB Bubbles on Strangford Lough with turbine in the background

Keynote Speakers

A photo of Dr Jon Copley from Southampton University

Dr Jon Copley is an Associate Professor of Marine Ecology at the University of Southampton, where his research focuses on insular and ephemeral habitats such as hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, and whalefalls to understand interactions between ecology, biogeography, and evolution in the marine biome. In particular, his research group investigates the global biogeography of deep-sea chemosynthetic environments, the spatial and temporal dynamics of their faunal assemblages, and the life-history biology of their species. In 2013 he became the first British person to dive to 5000 m, during the first manned submersible dive to the world's deepest known hydrothermal vents. He is also co-founder of a company that has trained >12,000 scientists in how to share their work with wider public audiences, and he has published >150 "popular science" articles in magazines and newspapers, having been a reporter and news editor at New Scientist.

A photo of Dr Louise Firth

Dr Louise Firth started research on rocky shores at University College Dublin in 2002, inspired by a summer bursary helping Nessa O’Connor (Queens University Belfast) set up an experiment on the shores of Connemara. Her final year project and PhD (both with Tasman Crowe) explored the role of competition and habitat suitability in explaining distribution patterns of limpets on rocky shores. She did a number of postdocs in Hong Kong, Florida, Bangor and Southampton before taking up her first lecturing position at the National University of Ireland Galway. In 2015 Louise joined Plymouth University as a Lecturer in Environmental Science.

Her research encompasses community dynamics and global climate change in both natural and artificial environments. Much of her research focuses on disentangling the impacts of climate change from regional and local scale factors such as extreme weather events and urbanisation. She investigates the role of artificial coastal defence structures and biogenic habitats in habitat provision and in facilitating the spread of both native and non-native species in coastal systems. She has developed novel ecological engineering techniques for habitat enhancement and conservation of biodiversity in the built environment.

A photo of Dr Jon Houghton a keynote speaker

Dr Jonathan Houghton is a lecturer in Marine Biology in Queen’s University Belfast. His research group focuses on gelatinous zooplankton and their role within marine food webs through to the use of satellite transmitters and data loggers to investigate the spatial and behavioural ecology of marine predators. A long-running theme since 1998 has been the migratory, foraging and diving behaviour of sea turtles using a range of telemetric and biologging techniques (e.g. satellite relay data loggers, time depth recorders, and tri-axial accelerometers). In recent years, these interests have expanded to incorporate other predatory species including ocean sunfish, basking sharks, cephalopods and seabirds.

Dr Lynn Gilmore Seafish NI

Dr Lynn Gilmore, the Seafish Northern Ireland Manager, works closely with the Northern Irish seafood industry and ensures the local coordination of Seafish activities. The Seafish work programme in Northern Ireland is guided by an industry Board, the Seafish Northern Ireland Advisory Committee, and covers a range of projects and activities that aim to facilitate the sustainable economic development of the industry. Prior to working with Seafish, Lynn studied and then was employed as a Research Fellow in Queens Marine Laboratory and worked primarily on seaweed cultivation, bivalve cultivation and worked closely with the industry producing regular newsletters and organising an annual aquaculture conference. 

Current projects range from producing a cookery booklet with family recipes collected from local fishing families; coordinating a project to calculate the socio-economic impacts on the fishing industry from developments including wind farms and marine conservation zones in the Irish Sea; improving fishermen’s safety by managing a project to distribute lifejackets and provide safety training to 1340 fishermen and aquaculture workers across Northern Ireland; working with the industry to develop PGI status for local fisheries products; developing seafood apprenticeships with local colleges and industry employers; creating a documentary-style film to celebrate the NI fishing industry and working with Strangford Lough fishermen to assist in the continuation of their fishery in light of a closure of grounds due to environmental concerns within the Strangford Lough SAC. 

A photo of Dr Fergus Kennedy consultant Marine Biologist

Dr Fergus Kennedy is a marine biologist and photographer and film-maker. He became hooked on the ocean from the first time he put on a mask and snorkel and put his head beneath the waves at the age of five. After studying Zoology at Oxford University, he studied for a Masters in Marine Environmental Protection at Bangor, followed by a PhD, also from Bangor on sandy beach ecology in the south of Chile.

Fergus has worked on numerous scientific, photographic and film projects since in locations varying from South America to the Middle East.

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