About the Speakers

Day 1

Samantha Slisarenko

Tuna in flux: Assessing climate impacts on key fishery species.

Researcher Bio:

From Canada to Gibraltar, Samantha is a PhD researcher specialising in fisheries and oceanographic processes. Her work involves lecturing in oceanography and collaborating with university researchers and local anglers. This synergy of academic and practical perspectives informs her approach to understanding and managing marine ecosystems.

Research Summary:

In this presentation, the intricate relationship between climatic variability and oceanographic processes is examined, with a specific focus on their effects on tuna species. The talk will explore how changes in climate lead to significant alterations in ocean environments, subsequently impacting the behaviour, migration, and stock dynamics of tuna. The importance of a broad understanding of these oceanographic influences on tuna will be emphasised, particularly in the context of developing effective and equitable conservation strategies. Special attention will be given to the challenges faced by fishing communities in regions experiencing significant environmental changes. The overall goal of this talk is to provide a perspective on how climatic variability intersects with oceanography and the life cycles of key fishery species, underscoring the critical role of adaptive and informed management in marine conservation.

Angelo L. Cerisola

Navigating the Boundaries: Sustaining Professionalism in Small Community Settings.

Researcher Bio:

Angelo L. Cerisola is a qualified and experienced social worker, senior leader and educator. He currently serves as the Director of Services Safety and Standards at the Care Agency, where he oversees the delivery of high-quality social care standards and holds overall responsibility for Governance, Policy, Quality Assurance, Learning, Improvement and Development at the Agency. In addition to his senior leadership role at the Care Agency, Angelo is a visiting lecturer of social work and social policy at the University of Gibraltar and has also lectured at U.K Universities. Angelo holds a 1st Class Honours Degree from the University of Essex in Social Work, completed a postgraduate academic internship in Public Policy and Politics at The George Washington Centre in U.S and holds a professional Certificate in Governance and Accountability from the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies. He is currently completing his PhD at the University of Gibraltar, and has recently been made a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Leadership.

Research Summary:

In the domain of childcare safeguarding, Angelo conducts a thematic analysis of findings to illuminate crucial insights shaping health and social care professional ethics and policy. This research delves into the intricacies of maintaining professionalism within small communities, focusing on the welfare of children. Through a rigorous examination of literature, a comprehensive methodology, and insightful case studies, Angelo uncovers key themes that hold significant implications for ethical considerations and policy formulation. The resulting analysis aims to inform and guide health and social care professionals, offering a foundation for ethical decision-making and the development of policies that resonate with the unique challenges of safeguarding children in close-knit environments.

Caroline Moss-Gibbons

PhD Viva Examinations: an international perspective

Researcher Bio:

Caroline Moss-Gibbons is the Parasol Librarian (University Librarian) and Data Protection Officer (DPO) at the University of Gibraltar.  She has extensive experience in Research libraries and other special collections.  Following early professional posts in the Public Library sector and the Civil Aviation Authority, Caroline was the Librarian & Head of Heritage Collections at the Royal College of Physicians of London (RCP) with its extensive Library, Archives and Museums collection dating back to 1170, which covered all of the ‘natural philosophy’ subjects.  Latterly Caroline worked in the Research Offices of both Brighton and Sussex universities, supporting the external funding applications for the Medical School.  Caroline was also a lecturer for the University of Brighton MSc in Library & Information Studies as Module Leader for ‘Research Methods’ and teaching advanced information retrieval.

Research Summary:

This presentation will showcase the preliminary findings of an international research project in which the University of Gibraltar is collaborating with partners in the UK and New Zealand. Titled ‘The Doctoral Viva as Intellectual Examination Dialogue: An International Study’,  this research aims to explore the policies, practices, regulations, dimensions, varieties, challenges, and experiences of the doctoral viva voce (oral examination) within the context of the various higher education systems of the partner institutions.
All project partners have interviewed participants involved in the three main roles of a PhD viva:  Examiners, Chairs and of course Candidates.   Each participant interviewed has brought their own unique experience of the many and varied types of PhD vivas conducted at their home institutions.  The insights gained will help us to design and deliver the most positive, effective and rewarding experience for our PhD candidates as well as feed into wider international academic frameworks and processes.”

Dr Jennifer Ballantine Perera

The Overlaid Past: The Politics of Space and Memory in Gibraltar’s ‘Doubling’ Street Naming Principle.

Researcher Bio:

Dr Jennifer Ballantine Perera is the Director of the Gibraltar Garrison Library. She is affiliated to the University of Gibraltar as a Research Fellow, is currently supervising two PhDs, and sits on the Research and Research Degree Committee. She has a PhD from the University of Kent. Jennifer took up a research post at the University of Lancaster on an AHRC funded project Gibraltar Community and Identity (2003 – 2006). Other projects include an ESRC funded oral history project on Gibraltar, Bordering on Britishness (2013-2017), and an EU funded project The Encyclopedia of Migrants (2015- 2017).  Her main area of research is Gibraltar and British Overseas Territories, with focus on identity, the colonial and postcolonial, constitutional aspirations, and geopolitics in small territories. She is also active in cultural and literary research, and has more recently collaborated with geographers, with both disciplines leading to greater interdisciplinarity in her research. Most recent publications include: ‘The Overlaid Past: The Politics of Space and Memory in Gibraltar’s ‘Doubling’ Street Naming Principle’, Place Naming, Identities, and Geography, Ed. Gerry O’Reilly, Switzerland, Springer Nature, 2023;  ‘A Gibraltarian Odyssey: In Search of the Authorial Self and the Challenges of (Self)Representation’, Tangier, SureS, 2022; ‘Gibraltar: Recovery and Memorialisation of the First World War in the 21st Century’, in Places of Memory and Legacies in an Age of Insecurities and Globalization, Ed. Gerry O’Reilly, Switzerland: Springer Nature, 2021; ‘An Overseas Territory in Europe: Gibraltar as a test case for discussing the non-colonial’, in The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Special Issue: Gibraltar.   Volume 110, No.3, June 2021.

Talk Summary:

In 2022 I gave a lecture on a piece of research relating to the traditional street naming principle at Gibraltar, with this published as a chapter in a book, Place Naming, Identities and Geography, (Springer 2023). I became interested in the subject following a Gibraltar government-led initiative to revive traditional street names, with plaques bearing these placed in public spaces alongside official street names. Whilst an important initiative aimed at cultural recovery, I was drawn towards the visual ‘doubling’ of street names, especially as traditional street names had never before appeared in public spaces, for they existed only in the imagination of Gibraltarians. The revival of these names has invariable served to overlay the past onto the present-day, but not quite, as this is informed by an incomplete process that has failed to bring forward the significance of how these traditional street names were created and functioned. Memory is key here, not only as a means to recall the past, but in also understanding how traditional street names were transferred and used as a navigational tool. Although no longer in daily use as they were during the 18th Century through to the latter part of the 20th , at which point a decline in usage is noted (Ellicott c.1975), these names have proved to be very resilient. Of note is the fact that they did not collapse after the implementation of official street name plaques in the 1860s, as could have easily been the case given that official names were driven by a colonially informed and enforced naming principle. Now this really piqued my curiosity, as surviving against the odds is a very seductive motif, one which took me down a historical path to uncover how these names were imaginatively created by Gibraltarians. Their linguistic and culturally codified naming principle is the key to how these names functioned, with this codification leading not only to their resilience, but also to their primacy over the official mapping of the streetscape. Such was the case that these names inadvertently became a disruptive force, as whilst Gibraltarians could move with ease throughout the urban centre, the services-based settler community could not. We are ultimately dealing with the story of how Gibraltarians walked through the streets of Gibraltar with the use of their memory driven GPS, whereas those without this local knowledge would be lost.

Day 2

Natalie Muirhead-Davies

Bridging the Gap between science, policy, and conservation advice; the realities of an overseas territory.

Researcher Bio:

Natalie is a PhD researcher at the University of Gibraltar. She moved to Gibraltar over two years ago to enroll in the MSc Marine Science and Climate Change, remaining afterwards to pursue a PhD. She is passionate about helping UK Overseas Territories to find ways to overcome challenges to marine conservation, such as resource shortages and limited funding streams.
Natalie is a PhD researcher at the University of Gibraltar. She moved to Gibraltar over two years ago to enroll in the MSc Marine Science and Climate Change, remaining afterwards to pursue a PhD. She is passionate about helping UK Overseas Territories to find ways to overcome challenges to marine conservation, such as resource shortages and limited funding streams.

Research Summary:

UK Overseas Territories are an unusual case when it comes to marine protection. The UK territorial waters encompasses the UKOTs and network of Marine Protected Areas have enabled meeting of protection targets, which has helped in many cases, but not all. Funding towards marine protection is unevenly distributed between the OTs and in Gibraltar’s case, funding from the EU is also lost as the UK makes its exit from the EU.
Gibraltar and other UKOTs have previously reported data from marine monitoring to the UK, which is then passed onto the EU. Upon exit of the EU, the UK has been developing a new Marine Strategy and environmental targets, which the UKOTs must meet. This can be challenging however when resources and funding are insufficient and, in Gibraltar’s case, political tensions around areas reserved for conservation are present.
The researcher examines ways in which reporting can be improved and which measures can be taken to improve marine conservation in UKOTs by learning lessons from around the world and adapting and applying best practice in the unique context of UKOTs. By empowering UKOTs to take control of their own marine conservation and build resilience and reduce reliance on the UK for data collection and monitoring, UKOTs will be able to carry out more effective conservation in the long run.

Pedro Romero

The Potential of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy for Gambling Disorder.

Researcher Bio:

Pedro is a seasoned Safer Gambling expert. He has worked in senior roles at leading gambling companies throughout his career. He also held the role of Head of Gambling Therapy, a UK-based charity that provides online support for problem gamblers worldwide.
Pedro is a trained psychologist and psychodynamic counsellor with extensive CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) training and more than a decade of experience in multiple settings including private practice, university and clinics. Pedro is also an Executive Leadership Coach, trained at the prestigious Tavistock Institute. He combines his clinical practice with industry consultancy, charity work at Betblocker and research at the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Gaming (CERG).During his time working in the treatment of gambling disorder, Pedro was disappointed with the high drop-off and high relapse rate of gamblers in treatment. He is determined to research ways to improve clinical outcomes.

Research Summary:

His PhD focus is on researching novel treatments for people affected by the negative consequences of excessive gambling, with a focus on psychedelic-assisted therapy for gambling disorder.

Carmel Khalilian

It’s all a façade – preventive maintenance of stone masonry façades suffering from rising damp across seasons and microclimates.

Researcher Bio:

Carmel is passionate about the intersection of built and natural assets and keeps up with technological advancements and policy developments related to their preservation and management.
With a background in architecture and urban design, she specializes in sustainable urban development and digital transformations for the built environment. Carmel is particularly interested in how technologies like Building Information Modelling (BIM), Smart Building Technology, and Non-Destructive Surveying Methods can help monitor long-term asset risks.
She is dedicated to breaking down barriers to implementing maintenance plans and cost-effective investments into built assets, aiming to improve lifecycle costing accuracy and offer guidance on best practices for maintenance and remediation efforts, especially in Gibraltar.
Carmel’s PhD research focuses on investigating the impact of microclimates and seasonality on subsurface moisture of limestone masonry blocks, including understanding the germination of horticultural species on rock faces and its implications on limestone block lifecycles.

Research Summary:

Water is a fundamental control on the deterioration of our historic limestone masonry. In Gibraltar, many buildings suffer from issues of water ingress and rising damp, where water travels largely through the more porous elements of the masonry wall. The lingering presence of moisture is the ideal environment for the growth of mould and other biocolonisation which affects both the air quality indoors and condition of the limestone masonry, over time.
Limestone has been a primary building material for centuries due to its abundance, workability, and durability, and its use extends across the Mediterranean region due to the rich history of military conquests. Barracks have been the focus of Carmel’s PhD as these military-built structures are of a standard design and have been retrofit in Gibraltar largely for Educational or Charitable use.
Non-destructive techniques are commonly used to survey these stone walls for the presence of moisture, but best practices on how to quantitatively collect data, manage and represent this data are not clearly established.
With the aims to establish best practices and guidance on the maintenance of our local built heritage, Carmel will be speaking about effective moisture management particularly in heritage buildings made of natural materials like limestone and the influence that different seasons and microclimates can have on these built structures – information that can be utilised to help programme maintenance plans and avoid more costly remediation of these walls.
Preserving and celebrating these heritage buildings is essential for not only making the most of the embodied carbon in the built assets we already have, but also in honouring the legacy of the past and preserving these historic spaces for a deeper appreciation of our shared cultural heritage for centuries to come.

Dr Rhian Guillem

Evaluating an important biodiversity area in Gibraltar: Windmill Hill Flats

Researcher Bio:

TBC

Talk Summary:

Windmill Hill Flats is a unique habitat that lies in the south of Gibraltar. Although it is part of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, it is an MOD training area and this makes managing the site different to other habitats in Gibraltar.  Windmill Hill Flats only covers an area of just under 0.2 square kilometres, yet it has significant ecological value as a sanctuary for both native and migratory species.  In Gibraltar’s first ever Darwin Plus Local project, we look at the biodiversity of this area and ask just what makes Windmill Hill special?  Does it face threats from invasive species and habitat degradation? How can we best manage the site to marry conservation and military training objectives, and can we potentially carry out rewilding there?  Led by Prof. Julia Fa, this project has brought together various experts from Gibraltar and Spain, investigating the communities of plants, invertebrates, birds and mammals at the site. We will discuss our findings and how it now forms a foundation for informed conservation action.

Dr Louise Lawson

An exploration of student nurses’ ‘ways of learning’ on placement in Gibraltar.

Researcher Bio:

Dr Louise Lawson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences University of Gibraltar. She is an expert paediatric, neonatal and adult registered nurse clinician and senior educationalist with over 35 years of experience in both nursing and Higher Education. Louise has worked as a nurse in the UK, Saudi Arabia and the UAE before moving into higher education, specialising in both undergraduate and postgraduate nurse education. Louise has also taught nursing for ten years in Malaysia and Penang to nurses topping up their diploma qualification to degree level. Academic qualifications include a Doctorate in Education (EdD), MA Higher Education (Nursing), BSc Hons Adult Nursing, and is a Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Louise has an extensive publication and international conference profile relating to mentorship and learning in nursing.

Talk Summary:

Experiential practice-based learning in nurse education is not a new concept and centres on students gaining practical nursing skills and competencies whilst learning in the clinical arena. Mentors play a vital role in Gibraltar, supporting and assessing student learning, and ensuring adequate support to facilitate learning. However, it could be argued that students are not just passive recipients of knowledge; rather, they take on a proactive approach to find the best way to learn in practice.  Therefore, this talk discusses the findings from a study that took place to explore student nurses’ ways of learning’ on placement in Gibraltar.

Professor Zsolt Demetrovics

Characteristics of youth vaping in Gibraltar.

Researcher Bio:

Zsolt Demetrovics is chair of the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Gaming at the University of Gibraltar. He obtained his MA degrees in psychology and cultural anthropology, and he received his PhD in clinical and health psychology. He has published over 400 research papers on the epidemiology, assessment and psychological correlates of substance use behaviour and behavioural addictions including gambling, video game use, internet addiction, hypersexual behaviour, exercise addiction, work addiction, and compulsive buying.  He is president of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Addictions and founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. He is corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and member of the Academia Europea.

Talk Summary:

Background and aims: Vaping has risen in popularity among youth worldwide; thus, understanding local trends, motivations, and risk perceptions related to vaping is crucial for developing targeted, evidence-based interventions and prevention strategies. Our study aimed to examine the prevalence and characteristics of youth vaping among secondary school students in Gibraltar to gain insights into vaping behaviours and motivations. Methods: In 2023, a total of 2,179 students in years 7 to 13 (between the ages of 11 and 18) across secondary schools in Gibraltar anonymously completed a 14-item questionnaire on vaping behaviour and its perception. The questionnaire was developed based on the ESPAD survey. The participation rate exceeded 80% for years 7-9 and 46.9% in year 13. Findings: 29.2% of students reported ever vaping, with prevalence increasing by age, from 8.8% in year 7 to 60.8% in year 13. Girls exhibited higher rates of lifetime vaping across most measures. Among lifetime vapers, 62.2% used nicotine + flavour vapes, while 13.9% were unsure of the contents. Most initiated vaping at age 13-14 (38.2%). Key motivations included curiosity (51.7%), friends’ influence (20.4%), and stress relief (15.2%). The majority (90.4%) of vapers had not smoked tobacco previously. While most students (76%) considered vaping at least moderately harmful, this perception declined among those who had vaped. Compared to Europe and the UK, Gibraltar adolescents exhibited higher rates of vaping and earlier initiation. Conclusions: Vaping appears highly prevalent among older adolescent students in Gibraltar, and a majority of those who try vaping tend to continue frequent use. Curiosity and social influences are key motivations. Providing education on vaping contents and risks is important, as risk perceptions decline among users. Understanding the local context is key to developing targeted, evidence-based vaping interventions in Gibraltar. Further in-depth research should explore vaping motivations, trajectories, and risk perceptions. Prevention initiatives should target early adolescence before vaping initiation.