SAERI Personnel

Dr Paul Brickle


Paul Brickle took up his appointment with SAERI in March 2012 marking its formation. Paul is an experienced marine ecologist with a great deal of South Atlantic expertise. Paul joins SAERI after 10 years working as a Fisheries Biologist and Marine Ecologist with the Falkland Islands Government Fisheries Department. Paul has a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He also has an MSc and PhD from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland in fisheries biology and zoology respectively. His experience which includes fisheries biology, marine biology and ecology, stock assessment methods, oceanography and modern statistical methods. He has led numerous research programmes and managed the performance of other scientists. Paul is also a Reader at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen.

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Tara Pelembe

Deputy Director

Tara has an MSc from the University of Exeter in Conservation and Biodiversity and a BSc.  (Hons) in Geography from the University of St. Andrews. She is currently seconded to the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI) from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) in UK where she continues to play a part-time role as the Senior Overseas Territories Adviser.  Tara was previously the Head of the Conservation Department on Ascension Island and the Director of the Environmental Management Department on St. Helena. 
Tara’s interest and experience covers the whole spectrum of environmental management from conservation and biodiversity to waste management and climate change. She has considerable experience in the management of both small-scale and larger scale multi-disciplinary projects and has led and/or contributed to a large number of programmes and projects that range from on-the ground implementation initiatives to multi-party partnership working platforms. She is also is an experienced in communication, networking, stakeholder engagement, workshop organisation and facilitation, project and programme management.

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Teresa McNeill

Business & Research Manager

Teresa is a rounded business professional who specialises in environmental and human sustainability. She graduated in 2007 with an MBA from the Wits Business School in Johannesburg, South Africa, and in 2014 from SOAS (London) with an MSc in Sustainable Development, specialising in Environmental Management. She established, implemented and managed the Anglo American Green Fund, a fund of ZAR100 million for investment into environmental businesses with investments ranging from Concentrated Solar Power plants to biofuels to waste management. She has also specialised in establishing entities linked to charity organisations that aim to provide alternative sources of income to reduce donor dependency. In running her own consultancy she has worked further with charity organisations, assisted with forensic auditing and developed waste management solutions for South African communities. Her role at SAERI is to incorporate the Institute as a separate entity, create and maintain strong governance within the organisation, explore, create commercial opportunities for revenue generation to ensure the sustainability of the organisation - while maintaining the strong Falkland Islands links it enjoys today  - and ensure that SAERI is a compelling proposition for investment and as a globally renowned research institute.

Zoe James

Office Manager

Zoe joined SAERI in August 2016 as office manager. Zoe’s background is in Midwifery; arguably delivering babies and ensuring the smooth running of an office full of scientists are similar in the level of organisation and diversity of skills required. Zoe’s keen awareness and understanding of the marine environment was developed through her enjoyment of SCUBA diving. Weekends and holidays are spent exploring the Falkland Island’s many natural wonders with her husband and three children.

Daniela Baigorri

BEST 2.0 Project Officer

Dani has a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology from the Universidad CatÓlica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile. During the last years of her studies and for 3 years after, she worked in physical oceanography projects in the north of Chile. From 2014 until the beginning of 2016 she worked in the National Service of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SERNAPESCA) in the Environmental Department at the beginning and then she was reassigned as the officer-in-charge of the Statistics and Customer Service Department. Dani came down to the Falkland Islands in June 2016 and joins SAERI in September on a part-time basis as the BEST 2.0 project officer for the South Atlantic region.

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Dr David Blockley

Marine Ecologist (Benthic Ecology, Oceanography, Data Curation)

David gained his PhD with the Centre for Research on Ecological impacts of Coastal Cities (EICC), University of Sydney, studying anthropogenic structures as habitats for intertidal marine organisms. This lead to a Post-doctoral fellowship within a collaborative research project between the EICC and local and state government agencies, harbour authorities, developers and environmental consultancies, exploring methods in which intertidal seawalls could be built in order to maximise the biodiversity supported by these artificial structures. Following this, he moved into environmental consultancy, focusing on the offshore resource industry. In this role he worked primarily with the oil and gas industry operating in marine environment of Western Australia, monitoring impacts of their offshore operations. He accepted a position with SAERI to coordinate the curation of the benthic, oceanographic and fisheries data. In this role he is collating and reviewing the data that has been gathered from the various benthic, oceanographic and fisheries surveys for storage in a database that can then be used as a valuable resource for environmental decision making and scientific investigations of the maritime environment of the Falkland Islands. In collaboration with key stakeholders he will also be developing strategies to be used for future surveys.

Dr Marina Costa

Cetacean Ecologist Project Manager

Marina holds a MSc degree in Biology and a MSc degree in Environmental Policy and Economy (Statale University of Milan, Italy) and a PhD in Marine Biology (St Andrews University, Scotland, UK). She boasts a broad and long background in marine biology, working with marine benthic communities in the Mediterranean Sea and cetacean communities in several regions, including Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, North Sea and Red Sea. Since 2002 Marina has been collaborating with the Tethys Research Institute (of which she is a proud member) studying presence, abundance and habitat use of cetaceans, in Greece and Italy (Adriatic Sea and Strait of Messina). In 2005-2006 she was the project manager and principal investigator for the project Dolphin Habitat Conservation and Sustainable Use - Pilot Experience in the Egyptian Coastal Red Sea focusing on Stenella longirostris abundance and residency. From 2010 to 2012 she was the Senior Marine Biologist and Consultant for the project Sustainable Development in the Southern Egyptian Red Sea, with the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation (HEPCA). The project aimed studying abundance and distribution of marine mammals (cetaceans and dugong) in the southern Egyptian waters of the Red Sea using distance sampling methodology. Marina professional interests are focused on cetacean abundance and habitat modelling together with development of awareness, education and capacity building to make research a tool for real conservation. Marina is an experienced boat skipper, accomplished field cetologist and advanced scuba diver. She can speak Italian, English, French and some Modern Greek.

Sammy Hirtle

Special Project Officer

Sammy started working part-time for SAERI in March 2016, mainly helping out with logistics of visiting scientists, organising workshops and assisting the office manager when needed. Sammy grew up in the Falklands and has a keen interest in the natural environment. She has travelled extensively and enjoys helping out other travellers when she can. Sammy brings a wealth of local knowledge to the organisation.

Dr Maria Isabel Garcia Rojas

Project Officer

Maria is an Environmental Scientist with a doctorate (Ph.D.) in marine spatial ecology, extensive experience in marine predator research and a passion for Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic ecosystems.  Her research aims to enhance our understanding of environmental changes that impact primary producer communities, as these influence the ecology and fitness of higher trophic levels, and to inform future spatial population trends in light of current predictions of climate change. For her thesis, Maria studied minke whale occurrence in relation to sea ice habitat structure throughout the Antarctic sea-ice zone. She worked as a research fellow for the Blue whale study and the Centre for Whale Research (Australia) conducting ecological modelling, passive acoustic monitoring and habitat assessment for top predators (i.e. mainly marine mammals), and investigating biological responses to changes in habitat caused by natural and anthropogenic environmental variability. She is an experienced marine wildlife observer who has participated in both scientific and seismic surveys throughout the Southern Ocean (Antarctica), South Atlantic (South Orkney Islands), and the south and west coast of Australia for a variety of non-profit and corporative groups including the International Whaling Commission, Fundación Malpelo, and the offshore industry. During her appointment at Deakin University as an academic lecturer and research assistant, she acquired teaching experience in environmental science, including marine ecology, environmental management, and animal anatomy and physiology. Maria is the project officer of the project.

Neil Golding

Marine Spatial Planning Project Manager

Neil graduated from the University of Stirling with an honours degree in Marine Biology and went on to gain an MSc on Marine Resource Development and Protection at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.  An experienced marine ecologist and scientific diver, Neil has led on a range of projects, from mapping near-shore habitats in Northern Ireland with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, through to developing the circalittoral rock habitat classification for Britain and Ireland. He went on to lead and manage JNCC’s offshore seabed survey programme – commissioning surveys as well as collaborating with other Government institutions and academic research bodies to gather scientifically robust seabed evidence to underpin and support the designation, monitoring and management of the UK’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) network.

Neil was previously seconded to SAERI, where he worked with local stakeholders on Phase II of the Marine Spatial Planning project to realise the development and implementation of a Falklands Marine Spatial Plan.  He now leads the Coastal Mapping project, a three-year Defra (Darwin Plus) funded project mapping the coastal habitats of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. 


Dr iLaria Marengo

GIS Specialist and Project Manager

iLaria gained an honours degree in Geography at the University of Genoa (Italy). She also has an MSc in Remote sensing and image processing from Dundee University and a PhD (developing a GIS and spatial statistics based method for tackling the landscape character assessment of the Scottish landscape) from Stirling University. Since graduation iLaria’s interest has been in GIS since she recognised that they were useful tools to apply geography to real case studies and consequently improve analysis of geographical data and provide support to decision makers.  iLaria has gained experience in the field of GIS and database development and management throughout the last 13 years by being involved in several projects and on different subjects in italy, at the JRC centre and at the University of Turin, and in Scotland, at HHA and NAFC Marine centre in Shetland and at JNCC in Aberdeen. The broad variety of studies to which iLaria’s has applied her knowledge on GIS and database helped her to keep a curious mind, the desire to learn new skills/ techniques and the passion for problem solving. Her challenging task in SAERI is to manage and collaborate with the setting up the South Atlantic Information Management and GIS Centre.

Dr Megan Tierney

Marine Ecologist (Higher Predators)

Megan has a background in marine ecology and biodiversity monitoring, specialising in marine higher predators. She joined SAERI in 2014 to jointly run the GAP project which will collate, create and analyse data needed to underpin strategies to better inform and monitor potential impacts of the hydrocarbon industry on the marine environment. Prior to this, Megan spent 10-years working with the Australian Antarctic Division developing mitigation and management protocols for detecting and minimising the impact of environmental change and/or resource exploitation on the Southern Ocean ecosystem. In 2010 she joined the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) – the biodiversity assessment and policy support arm of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). While at UNEP-WCMC, Megan was involved with a range of activities including the development of biodiversity and ecosystem services indicators that have been used to assess global biodiversity loss, overseen the implementation of national ecosystem assessments, and developed regional capacity building programmes around these topics. From a work perspective, Megan most enjoys seeing the fundamentals of science turn into policy actions on the ground. She has also spent a number of years leading ship-based adventure-tourism expeditions to both Polar Regions, around the UK isles, Norway, Greenland and eastern Canada. She has a degree in Marine Biology and a PhD in Antarctic Marine Ecology. When not at work, Megan enjoys undertaking outdoor pursuits and kicking a football around in the backyard with her dog.