The MSc Marine Science & Climate Change teaching team brings together a multi-disciplinary group of internationally-recognised specialists in the area of Marine Science and Climate Change who have extensive expertise in developing and delivering academic programmes in the marine sciences.

Programme Lecturers

Dr Awantha Dissanayake
Head of School (Marine Sciences)

Dr Dissanayake has extensive experience in marine biology, especially in the development and implementation of ecophysiological approaches to environmental monitoring, having published over 20 peer-reviewed articles. Examples of his work include environmental monitoring programmes (DEFRA/EA), climate change impacts (Australian & Japanese Governments), educational outreach programmes (Singapore), conservation in Marine Protected Areas (Thailand), and additionally, capacity-building and knowledge-transfer programmes (India, Vietnam, and Thailand).

Dr Darren Fa
Director of Academic Programmes & Research

Dr Fa is the University’s Director of Research and Partnerships and also heads the University’s flagship PhD programme. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles in subjects ranging from marine biology to palaeoecology, A specialist in intertidal and shallow-water marine ecosystems, he is an active researcher and is a recognised EU-Expert on Marine Systems and the Environment. Darren has extensive experience in marine coastal zone management, species conservation and past climate change and has consulted widely in these areas, both in Gibraltar and internationally, including UNESCO and the EU.

Dr Jaime Davies
Senior Lecturer

Dr Jaime Davies is an associate research fellow at the University of Plymouth with over 10 years’ experience as a deep-sea benthic ecologist, acting as lead biologist on several research cruises. Working in the field of conservation, with an interest in the ecology and mapping of vulnerable species/habitats, providing data to government agencies to use for proposing/designating Marine Protected Areas in UK and French waters. With an interest in cold-water corals, Jaime works closely with coral taxonomists and has organised many international cold-water coral identification training workshops. She is a co-founder of the INCISE network, a working group leader of the INCISE conservation working group and editor of a special issue on submarine canyons.

Bethany Gadd
Associate Lecturer- MSc Environmental Science & Climate Change

Bethany is an Environmental researcher with a broad academic and professional background. Her focus is on wildlife management, conservation, and ecology, showcased by her ongoing PhD at the University of Gibraltar. Bethany aims to enhance understanding of Barbary macaque dynamics and community involvement. Holding degrees in BSc Geography and MSc Wildlife Management, she’s experienced many diverse research areas, including invertebrate surveying, soil analysis, historical data organisation, and ecological consulting. Bethany’s consultancy experience encompasses species-specific studies and vegetation surveys.

Dr Sarah Alvarez (née O'Dea)
Research Associate and Lecturer

Dr. Alvarez is currently a Postdoctoral Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol. She specialises in using the fossil remains of calcifying marine phytoplankton to explore ecosystem and evolutionary responses to past environmental change.

Dr Ashton Berry
Climate Change Adaptation Specialist (Based in Australia)

Dr Berry is Associate Professor and Head of Research, Blue Economy Research Institute and Environmental Science Programme at the University of Seychelles, Dr Berry is a specialist in the development of educational, environmental assessment, conservation and monitoring programs in climate change adaptation and mitigation, ecosystem-based management, integrated coastal zone management and governance, having worked with the Indian Ocean Commission (ISLANDS Project), UNEP Ecosystem-based adaptation mangrove restoration project and the UNDP Outer Islands coastal erosion project, among others.

Samantha Slisarenko
Graduate Teaching & Research Associate (GRTA)/PhD Researcher (Marine Ecology)

Samantha is a Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant at the University of Gibraltar currently working towards the completion of her PhD. She is a recent graduate of The University of Gibraltar’s Master of Science in Marine Science and Climate Change programme. Before moving to Gibraltar, she was awarded her Hons. BSc at the University of Toronto in environmental biology before proceeding to complete a graduate degree in ecosystem restoration at Niagara College of Canada. During her studies in Canada, she worked alongside conservation authorities performing aquatic and terrestrial conservation work and ecological surveying. Samantha’s research interests include the effects of climate variability on commercial fish stocks, namely Atlantic bluefin tuna, using stable isotope markers. ​

Invited speakers

The programme is further complemented by University associate researchers and invited academics who contribute to the breadth and diversity of the programme.

Sonal Samtani
PhD researcher, University of Gibraltar & Gibraltar Health Authority

Sonal’s research is focussed on identifying the impact of rehabilitation in Alzheimer’s disease patients in terms of cognition, function, and quality of life. She is adept in mixed methods i.e. quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Charlotte Gillborn-Jones
Biomedical Scientist, St Bernard's Hospital

Charlotte is a Biomedical Scientist at St Bernard’s hospital where she forms part of the Department of Pathology. She fully competent in all aspects of Microbiology including laboratory techniques including analysis of urine, stools, MRSA, wounds, CSFs, blood cultures, parasites, mycology, MTB and PCR.

Sara Méndez Roldán
Senior Consultant and Project Manager, Ramboll

Ms. Sara Méndez Roldán is a Senior Consultant and Project Manager at Ramboll, responsible for leading the development of Ramboll’s environmental portfolio in Gibraltar. Sara has extensive experience in consenting / licensing of a wide range of coastal and marine developments, and delivery of environmental documentation, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), providing support to a number of local planning applications as well as international projects and studies led by Ramboll offices based in the UK and Belgium. She has been involved in planning and permitting processes for offshore wind farms in the UK, Denmark, the US and Taiwan, and has delivered studies on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and Blue Energy for the European Commission (DGMARE) among others.

Sara has comprehensive knowledge of international and European policy and legislation, particularly in relation to renewable energy, the protection of the marine environment, and MSP, and has a strong background in blue growth and sustainability.

Norbert Sene
Public Analyst, Gibraltar Health Authority

Mr Sene trained in Biomedical Science at Bromley College specialising in medical microbiology and in 2002, obtained a Master of Science in Biomedical Science from Ulster University becoming the first Gibraltarian to be admitted as a Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Science.
He is also currently H.M. Government of Gibraltar’s Public Analyst, at the Laboratory of the Public Analyst, Department of Pathology, Gibraltar Health Authority and responsible in providing a scientific, advisory and analytical service to the Government of Gibraltar and other external bodies.

Stephen Warr
Senior Environment Officer, HMGoG Department of the Environment, Heritage and Climate Change (DoEHCC)

Mr Warr is closely involved with the management of both the Rock of Gibraltar and the Southern Waters of Gibraltar Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). He has particular expertise in intertidal ecology and marine surveillance monitoring programmes.

Dr Emma McKinley
Research Fellow at Cardiff University

Dr Emma McKinley (@EmmaJMcKinley) is currently a Research Fellow at Cardiff University. Her research focuses on understanding the complex relationship between society and the sea, taking account of diverse types of perceptions, attitudes and values held by different communities and audiences, and considers how this insight can be used to support effective ocean governance.  In September 2018, Emma founded the Marine Social Science Network, a global, interdisciplinary community of researchers and practitioners working across marine social sciences, which she chairs. Emma is also Chair of the Royal Geographic Society’s Coastal and Marine Research Group and is Co-Chair of the Marine Social Science Task Group of the UK’s Marine Science Coordinating Committee.

Dr Keith Bensusan
Director, The Gibraltar Botanic Gardens

Dr Bensusan’s background is in the biological sciences and he has a broad knowledge of terrestrial natural history, most notably plants, insects and birds. He chairs the University research and Research degrees Committee and is also a member of the Nature Conservancy Council, the Scientific Authority, the Gibraltar Port Authority and the Development and Planning Commission. Keith also sits on the Gibraltar regional Committee for European Funding (JLAG) and the Council of the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS).

Prof Clive Finlayson
Director, Institute of Life and Earth Sciences and Director, The Gibraltar Museum

Professor Finlayson is based at the Gibraltar Museum, where he is Director, Chief Scientist and Curator. He is an evolutionary ecologist and his main areas of research are the biogeography of hominins, avian biogeography and evolutionary ecology. He has published widely in peer-reviewed journals and has written a number of books. In 2001 Clive was made Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, and was elected a Member at the Academia Europaea in 2010, and appointed a Beacon Professor of the University of Gibraltar in 2019.

Dr Geraldine Finlayson
Director of Heritage and Environmental Services, The Gibraltar Museum

Dr Geraldine Finlayson, is Managing Director of the Gibraltar Museum, and World Heritage Site Coordinator of the Gorham’s Cave Complex, UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Geraldine is also Adjunct Professor at Liverpool John Moores University.

She has been an active researcher for over thirty years, during which time she has authored or co-authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications, and has presented over thirty papers at international conferences.

She was awarded her PhD by Anglia Ruskin University for her thesis “Climate, Vegetation and Biodiversity – A Multiscale Study of the South of the Iberian Peninsula.” and her main areas of interest are spatio-temporal distribution patterns of vegetation and animals, and the relationships between climate, vegetation, landscape features and biodiversity – focusing mainly on the Iberian Peninsula within the Quaternary.  She is currently also working on the cultural influences on the development of the Gibraltarian ‘cuisine’, Gibraltar’s submerged/underwater cultural heritage and underwater archaeology.  She also recently completed her MSc at the University of Leicester in Museum Studies, and currently serves on HM Government of Gibraltar’s Climate Change Forum, Urban Renewal Committee, and the MOD Conservation Forum.  In 2006 she was granted the Gibraltar Award in HM the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Dr Terence Ocaña
Head Teacher, St. Joseph’s Middle School

Dr Ocaña graduated from St Mary’s College, University of Surrey in 1990 with a first class honours degree in Biology and Education (with Qualified Teacher Status).
Terence’s doctoral thesis at King’s College London was on the Ecology and Life History Dynamics of the false limpet Siphonaria pectinata in Gibraltar’s rocky shores which he successfully completed in 1997.  Dr Ocaña has published a number of peer-reviewed articles based on his doctoral thesis and continues to pursue collaborative research projects focussed on marine intertidal ecology.

Dr Liesl Mesilio
Chief Executive Officer, HMGoG Department of the Environment, Heritage and Climate Change (DoEHCC)

Dr Liesl Mesilio is a Graduate of the University of Reading and Doctor of Philosophy at Imperial College, University of London. She has extensive experience in a wide array of fields within environmental management, including working on contaminated land, environmental risk monitoring and sustainable development projects within Europe as well as internationally. She is a chartered scientist and chartered environmentalist. Liesl’s work with the DoEHCC focuses on providing effective environmental protection; addressing the threat of climate change; protecting and enhancing the natural environment; developing sustainable waste management practices; promoting energy efficiency and sustainable energy generation.

Prof Jose Carlos García Gómez
University Professor, University of Seville

Professor García-Gómez head the Marine Biology Laboratory at the University of Seville. His area of expertise is in Biodiversity and Conservation of Animal Species. He currently is participating in the following projects: Caprellid crustacean invaders of the Andalusian coasts: Applications in aquaculture; Taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography and ecology of the world’s Caprellid crustaceans; Environmental Quality Assessments of the marine environment and Development and validation of numerical models of multilayer hydrodynamic flows.

Dr Free Espinosa Torre
Lecturer, University of Seville

Dr Espinosa-Torre is a lecturer in the Zoology Department at the University of Seville. Teaches Management and Conservation of Terrestrial and Marine Fauna. He currently participates in the following projects: Conservation of the endangered mollusc Patella ferruginea; Taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography and ecology of the world’s Caprellid crustaceans and Environmental Quality Assessments of the marine environment.

Dr Alexander Menez
Head of Pathology, Gibraltar Health Authority

Dr Menez has been a naturalist all his life. His main interests are ecology, evolution and the history of natural history. His undergraduate research was on the subtidal marine molluscs of Gibraltar. Alex then went on to do his PhD on the ecology of land molluscs in southern Iberia, focusing on biogeography and habitat structure interactions on diversity. Alex trained in biomedical science, and also has a Masters in Enterprise Management. He is a Chartered Biologist, a Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London, and a member of the Nature Conservancy Council and the CITES Scientific Authority.