About Us | Students and Post-Doctoral Researchers
Patrick Wright – Post-Doctoral Researcher
Patrick completed his PhD at the University of Exeter in January 2018. His PhD was funded by Vincent Wildlife Trust and focused on the conservation of Bechstein’s bats in the UK. By using a combination of landscape and molecular approaches, he assessed the genetic diversity and structure of the British population of Bechstein’s bats, and developed a molecular assay to estimate the age of individual bats. He is now carrying out a postdoc at the University of Sussex, working in close collaboration with Vincent Wildlife Trust and The Woodland Trust in order to develop a population monitoring scheme for Bechstein’s bats.
Domhnall Finch – PhD Student
Growing up at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland led Domhnall to develop an appreciation and love for the great outdoors and nature itself. This passion led him to undertake a BSc in Environmental Science at University College Dublin before travelling over to the University of Leeds to complete his MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation. During his MSc, he completed a research project examining the use of habitat suitability models to predict bat species distribution within southern England. From this research, Domhnall developed a keen interest in the factors that influence species distribution and their interactions within the wider environment. Domhnall is now completing a PhD at the University of Exeter, which is co-funded by Vincent Wildlife Trust and Devon Wildlife Trust. This PhD aims to use spatial ecology to examine how landscape connectivity, habitat suitability and land management influence the distribution and movement of the greater horseshoe bat.
Katie Sainsbury – PhD Student
After graduating from the University of Warwick with a BSc in International Business and a career in marketing and new product development, Katie decided that it was time for a change in direction and embarked on an MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London in 2011. Her MSc thesis was an evaluation of community conservation projects taking place in the Eastern Arc Mountains, Tanzania. Katie is now doing her PhD on Polecat Recovery in Great Britain, co-funded by VWT, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and the University of Exeter. This project aims to quantify some of the key risks to continued polecat population recovery, from exposure levels of secondary poisoning from consuming rats poisoned by rodenticides to potential for human-wildlife conflict as their range expands. Katie is the first student to receive the Vincent Weir Bursary for PhD studies, established in honour of the Trust’s founder.
Catherine McNicol – PhD Student
Catherine was brought up in a rural town in the the Scottish Borders and was always surrounded by farming and wildlife. From a young age, she wanted to work with animals, leading her to complete a BSc in Zoology at the University of Edinburgh. She then went on to attain an MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity from the University of Exeter. During various fieldwork and research trips abroad to Australia, Kenya, South Africa and the Seychelles, Cat became interested in the impacts of invasive species and the benefits of native habitat and species restoration. Now, as a PhD student at the University of Exeter, she is working with VWT on the Pine Marten Recovery Project. Cat is funded by the Forestry Commission and is specifically investigating the impacts of pine marten reintroduction on grey squirrels, combining aspects of dietary, behavioural and spatial ecology.
David Bavin – PhD Student
David has always been passionate about conservation of our mammals and on completion of a BSc in Zoology and an MSc in Wildlife Biology, he started to become involved with conservation ecology projects in Scotland, predominantly with carnivores. David joined Vincent Wildlife Trust in 2012 as project officer for the People and Pine Martens in Wales project. At the end of 2014, David became project officer for the Pine Marten Recovery Project, part of the team involved in carrying out translocations of pine martens to Wales from Scotland. David is undertaking a part-time PhD on the project, which aims to provide information that will improve our understanding of how to best go about a translocation operation, whilst also investigating the adaptive behaviour/ecology of the pine martens’ response to the process.
Kieran O’Malley – PhD Student
Kieran has always had a huge passion for the outdoors and nature, which ultimately led him to complete a BSc in Zoology at Cardiff University. After attending numerous lectures and spending multiple years caving in the UK and abroad Kieran gained a great appreciation for caves and their associated fauna, particularly bats. This led him to undertake a MRes in Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of Leeds, where he carried out a research project investigating the urban roost selection of Mauritian tomb bats in Malawi. This research allowed Kieran to better understand the high selectivity of bats to roost sites and their vulnerability in the face of an increasingly urbanised landscape. Kieran is now doing a PhD on barbastelle bats at the University of Sussex, co-funded by the Vincent Wildlife Trust. The PhD aims to identify local woodland features that are important for the persistence of barbastelle bats, with the goal of developing landscape-scale approaches to their conservation.