Treorchy Comprehensive (1991 – 1998); Glamorgan Centre for Art, Design & Technology (1998 – 2003); Bangor University (2006 – 2009); University of Leeds (2010-2011); Queen’s University Belfast (2012 – 2017)
Foundation art studies; HND traditional animation; BSc Zoology with Conservation; MRes Biodiversity Conservation; PhD
Lots of different jobs in lots of different places
University College Cork
Favourite thing to do in my job: We learn a lot by looking at our records, but nothing beats actually doing the fieldwork.
I study wildlife – where they go, how they interact, what they do – and what this means for biodiversity conservation.
I’m a conservation biologist from South Wales, now living and working in Ireland. My surname is Italian but I’ve never been there. I’m a total nerd about wildlife, science, books and sci-fi. I’m a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Ambassador in the UK, I run a Twitter project for biologists, called Biotweeps, and I’ve given talks and held events for all kinds of groups and with people of all backgrounds and ages.
I’m a bit of a goofball and couldn’t be serious all the time. I like to go for walks, read, draw, and watch films. I also like to play board games with my friends, go bird watching, bake, and visit zoos and museums.
You can find me on Twitter, @thonoir
My project idea: Finding out what birds like to eat – but it’s really up to you!
Conservation issues looking at all sorts of animals – birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects.
I’ve worked with all kinds of animals, from ants, to newts, to tropical birds, to lemurs. I always try to find out new things about each species, e.g. how they use their habitats, how they interact with other animals, whether there are more or fewer of them than there used to be. During my PhD, I studied hares (like big rabbits) in Northern Ireland and right now I’m looking at how to protect endangered birds of prey.
What I'd do with the prize money
Finding out what birds like to eat – but it’s really up to you!
Lots of people put out fat, nuts and seeds for birds to eat throughout the year. There are lots of varieties of food, but which types do birds like the best? We could find out by putting three different types of food out for the birds and weighing what’s left. Will they eat more fat balls, peanuts, or sunflower seeds? Not only will you find out, but you’ll also be able to see some of our wonderful UK birds up close.
But what I really want to do is to work with you to develop a project based on things you’re really interested in. So let’s work together and come up with something fun and amazing.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Fun, nerdy, logical
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I got to go to the Amazon rainforest to help study birds
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I grew up loving nature, so the world inspired me, and still does. Also, zoos, and documentaries (mainly David Attenborough)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Sometimes, but never anything really serious
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
A biology teacher or an actor
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I can never pick just one! Right now I think it’s a band called The Shins
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I used to be in a band and played in front of over 200 people. That was a lot of fun
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
(1) Be a research scientist forever; (2) Be rich so that I could help protect endangered places and species, people in the developing world, and my family; (3) Stop wasting so much time
Tell us a joke.
Q: What’s a pirate’s favorite amino acid? A: Arrrrrr-ginine.