1992 - present Bird Collections Manager, Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum
1987-1992 Head of Estuaries Unit, British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford, U.K.
1982-1987 Lecturer, Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Department of
Zoology, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
1980-1982 Research Fellow, Department of Biology, Stirling University, U.K.
1979-1980 Research Fellow, Department of Zoology, Queensland University, Australia.
1974-1978 Royal Society Research Assistant, Aldabra Research Station, Seychelles.
1977: D.Phil., Avian Biology, Oxford University (Linacre College)
1970: B.Sc. (Hons), Zoology, Nottingham University
Responsible for all non-fossil bird collections in the Natural History Museum and for their associated staff. Organise and participate in the Bird Group collections management programme, the provision of access to the bird collections and the communication of information and advice concerning them. Undertake and supervise collections-based research aimed at developing techniques to improve the quality of data associated with museum specimens and, where necessary, to establish the reliability of existing specimen data.
Broad background in ornithological research. Main current research interests comprise:
Project: Enhancing the information associated with bird specimens
Main collaborators: Patricia Lee (University of Swansea), Joanne Cooper (NHM Bird Group), Earl of Cranbrook
Objectives: 1) Develop and make use of molecular techniques that improve reliability of identification of specimens, notably eggs, and sexing of specimens; 2) Use archival and other research to enhance the documentation associated with specimens and understanding of their collectors' motivation and developing knowledge.
Project: Detection of misinformation and fraud associated with bird specimens
Main collaborators: Pamela Rasmussen (Michigan State University Museum), Nigel Collar (BirdLife International)
Objectives: The scientific value of specimens is largely dependent on the reliability of the information associated with them. Within the NHM bird collections, detailed research has revealed large-scale and deliberate misinformation associated with the important bird skin collection of Richard Meinertzhagen. Detailed and wide-ranging research focusing on his Asian bird specimens is being used to develop and apply techniques both to reveal the scope of the problem and, in some instances, to restore original data with a high degree of confidence. A monograph on this is currently in preparation.
Project: Evolution and extinction of birds on the western Indian Ocean archipelagos
Main collaborators: Julian Hume (NHM Bird Group Scientific Associate), Jim Groombridge (University of Kent), Ben Warren (University of Réunion), Christophe Thébaud (University of Toulouse)
Objectives: 1) Use of morphological and molecular techniques to reconstruct the evolutionary history of bird genera and families that have radiated across the western Indian Ocean archipelagos; 2) Use of paleontological and archival information to document recent extinctions of birds on the different islands and attempt, where information is sufficient, to reconstruct the avifaunas prior to human arrival.
Have supervised 10 PhD and 2 MSc students. Jointly with Julia Day (UCL), currently supervise one PhD student, Siobhan Cox (Speciation in African white-eyes).