Beacon Professor Clive Finlayson
Director, Institute of Life and Earth Sciences
Director, The Gibraltar National Museum

Professor Finlayson is the Director of the University of Gibraltar’s Institute of Life and Earth Sciences and is based at the Gibraltar National Museum, where he is Director, Chief Scientist and Curator. Clive has a first class Honours Degree in Zoology from the University of Liverpool and was awarded a doctorate (DPhil) from the University of Oxford in 1980. In 1991 he completed his MSc in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester.

He was appointed a Beacon Professor of the University of Gibraltar in 2019.

Clive is an evolutionary ecologist and his main areas of research are the biogeography of hominins, avian biogeography and evolutionary ecology. In 2001 Clive was made Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto and in 2003 he was awarded MBE in HM the Queen’s New Year Honours. He was elected a Member at the Academia Europaea in 2010. Clive has worked as a consultant for the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Paris.

Clive has published widely in peer-reviewed journals and has written a number of books, including Neanderthals and Modern Humans (Cambridge University Press), The Humans who went Extinct, the Improbable Primate (Oxford University Press) and Birds of the Strait of Gibraltar and Avian Survivors (Bloomsbury).

Dr Keith Bensusan
The Gibraltar Botanic Gardens

Dr Keith Bensusan has been working at the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens since 2007 and became its Director in 2011.

His background is in the biological sciences and he has a broad knowledge of terrestrial natural history, most notably plants, insects and birds. He is particularly interested in the ecology and conservation of species and habitats in Gibraltar and the succulent flora of Morocco.

In addition to his work at the Botanic Gardens, he is a member of four statutory bodies in Gibraltar: the Nature Conservancy Council, the CITES Scientific Authority, the Gibraltar Port Authority and the Development and Planning Commission. He also sits on the Gibraltar regional Committee for European Funding (JLAG) and the Council of the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS).

Dr John Cortes
Minister for the Environment, Sustainability,
Climate Change, Heritage and Culture

The Hon. Dr John Cortes MP is Minister for Health, Environment, Energy and Climate Change, HM Government of Gibraltar.  Formerly he was the Director of the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens (1991-2011) and General Secretary, Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (1976-2011).  His other appointments have included Justice of the Peace and President, Gibraltar Magistrates’ Association (2008-2011).

John has a BSc. (Hons) Botany and Zoology from Royal Holloway College, University of London, 1979, and a D.Phil from Magdalen College and Animal Ecology Research Group, Oxford, 1983.  In 2003 he was awarded an MBE for services to ecology and conservation.

Dr Cortes’s research and publications reflect his interests in ornithology, plant and animal ecology, primatology, and conservation biology.  Special interests include invasive species, reptile ecology, cliff ecology, phenology of migration, and ecology and behaviour of Barbary macaque.  John has field experience in Gibraltar, Spain and North Africa (especially Morocco).

Dr Darren Fa
Director of Academic Programmes and Research
University of Gibraltar

Dr Darren Fa is the Director of Academic Programmes and Research at the University of Gibraltar.

After obtaining his PhD in Biological Oceanography from the University of Southampton In 1998, he then moved to the Gibraltar Museum in 1999 as Education and Research Officer, and subsequently Deputy Director. He also read for a Masters Degree in Museums Studies from the University of Leicester (2004). He was principal investigator on a number of EU and EFCHED funded projects, and received several international awards as part of the Museum team. Darren has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles in various international journals and book chapters both on ecological and archaeological subjects.

He is a director of the Gibraltar National Museum’s Gibraltar Caves Project as well as member of the UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) working group for the Gorham’s Cave Complex. Darren has acted as a consultant for the Gibraltar Government and UNESCO on heritage and natural-history matters. He is the author of several popular books on both subjects and has been regularly consulted by the international media for articles and television documentaries. Darren is a member of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar’s (HMGoG) Nature Conservancy Council, as well as a Registered European Commission Expert on Environment and Higher Education. He is also an Elected Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London.

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

Dr Geraldine Finlayson is Managing Director and Director of Heritage and Environmental Services at the Gibraltar National Museum, and World Heritage Site Coordinator of the Gorham’s Cave Complex. 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 sixty 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. 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 Period.  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 Rhian Guillem
Technical Officer
Gibraltar Botanic Gardens

Dr Rhian Guillem works at the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens as part of the Technical Team.  Her background is in the biological sciences with a PhD in the chemotaxonomy of ants from the University of Sheffield.  She is primarily an entomologist who specialises in the study of the taxonomy and faunistics of European and Mediterranean ants, in particular the myrmecofauna of Morocco and the area around the Strait of Gibraltar.

Her main research involves assessing the taxonomic status of Mediterranean ant species using surface chemistry (chemotaxonomy). She is also an active member of the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS), working in the Invertebrates section.

Dr Alex Menez
Head of Pathology
Gibraltar Health Authority

Dr Alex 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, has a Masters in Enterprise Management and is head of the Department of Pathology in the Gibraltar Health Authority.

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. A member of the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS) GONHS for more than 25 years, he joined Council as Head of the Invertebrates Section in 2012.

Alex is an Honorary Fellow of the Gibraltar Museum and is President of the Gibraltar Scientific Society which was reconvened in 2015 after a hiatus of over 150 years, on the 180th anniversary of its first formation in 1835.

Dr Liesl Mesilio
Chief Scientist and CEO
HM Government of Gibraltar Department of Environment, Heritage and Climate Change

Liesl Mesilio is a geography graduate of the University of Reading, and read for her masters degree in Environmental Technology followed by her PhD in Environmental Geochemistry at Imperial College. Her thesis, for which she carried out the first inorganic geochemical baseline survey of soils in Gibraltar, subsequently formed the basis for contaminated land policy and management in Gibraltar.

She is a Chartered Scientist and Chartered Environmentalist who has twenty years’ work experience in an array of fields within the portfolio of environmental management. As an environmental consultant, she worked on contaminated land, environmental risk monitoring and sustainable development projects before joining HM Government of Gibraltar at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Climate Change. As Chief Scientist her mandate at the Department spans effective environmental protection, addressing the threat of climate change, protecting and enhancing the natural environment, developing sustainable waste management practices, and promoting energy efficiency and sustainable energy generation. She has drafted various environmental instruments both in the form of primary and secondary legislation. She also works with EU working groups on marine policy, habitats, waste and renewable energy and with the Environment Ministers Council of the UK Overseas Territories on the adoption of international environmental instruments.

She is an Associate Researcher at the Institute of Life and Earth Sciences at the University of Gibraltar. She supervises PhD students at the University and her areas of work at there include environmental quality and ethics, conservation tools and strategy, international environmental law, and environmental policy and governance.

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

Dr Terence 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). Latterly he completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Management in Education.

Terence’s undergraduate thesis on the ecology and life history dynamics of the false limpet Siphonaria pectinata in Gibraltar’s rocky shores was the starting point for his Doctoral Research which he successfully completed in 1997.  Dr Ocaña has published a number of papers based on his doctoral thesis in The Journal of Molluscan Studies and The Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, amongst others.  Dr Ocaña has continued to pursue collaborative research projects focussed on Patella ferruginea and has taken part in a number of local, regional and international Marine Biology conferences.