I grew up in the north west of England, with a keen interest in wildlife from a young age. This led me to studying Animal Conservation Science for my bachelors (hons.) degree at the University of Central Lancashire’s Cumbria campus, bordering the Lake District National Park. After completing my undergraduate degree I was employed as a research assistant at the University of Cumbria, where I worked on multiple field and lab-based projects within the Centre for Wildlife Conservation. During this time I began to develop ideas for a PhD project with my supervisors Prof Owen Nevin and Dr Andrew Ramsey. I was awarded a studentship from the University of Cumbria and began a PhD in 2009, affiliated through Lancaster University. At this time, my third supervisor Prof Frank Rosell joined the project from Telemark University College, Norway. For the next three years I studied the scent communication behaviour of brown bears in Knight Inlet, British Columbia, Canada. This is a field site where my lead supervisor (Owen Nevin) also conducted his PhD research and is home to one of the longest-studied populations of brown bears in North America. I successfully defended and completed my doctoral research in December 2012, earning a PhD in Conservation Biology. I then went onto work as a bear viewing guide with Knight Inlet Lodge while continuing my research.
Since 2015, I have worked as a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Victoria, Canada, with Prof Chris Darimont, funded by Mitacs Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). My research has focused on the social and spatial behaviour of brown bears in coastal and interior British Columbia. In 2018 I co-founded the BearID Project, a research project and non-profit organisation focused on developing noninvasive technologies to identify and monitor bears. I also work as the conservation biologist on this project.
As well as studying brown bears in British Columbia, I have also lead a camera trap monitoring project in Kazakhstan, searching for Himalayan brown bears; established a monitoring project on tigers in Madhya Pradesh, India; studied western red colobus monkeys in The Gambia; and completed work experience at a game reserve in Limpopo Province, South Africa. These experiences broadened my field skills and developed my knowledge on issues relating to conflict and coexistence between people and wildlife.