Meet the Conservation Evidence Team

Part 2 of a series of blog posts to help you get to know the Conservation Evidence team a little better! (Part 1 is here). If you prefer, there’s some more formal biographies on our website.

Name: Dr Vanessa (Ness) Cutts

Hometown: Wigton, Cumbria

Years working with CE: One year and a bit

Role in CE: Post-doctoral research associate. I am currently summarising evidence for a new synopsis about inland aquatic vegetation.

Other research/scientific interests: Interested in how we can combine local knowledge and practical experience with scientific evidence. In 2023, I helped organise a series of site visits in the Fens in Cambridgeshire (the Fenland Conservation Network) to bring together local land managers, the goal being to facilitate knowledge sharing. I am also very fond of islands because of their cool endemic species and geological histories.

If I were an animal, I would be: A monkey. I like climbing and being silly.

If I were a fictional character, I would be: Legolas. I occasionally say some words but mostly stare into the distance.

A song that might have been written about/for me: Doritos and Fritos by 100 gecs, because I love eating crisps.

Mastermind specialist subject: Friends (original, I know).

Name: Dr William Morgan

Hometown: I was born in Northampton and since lived in Exeter, Falmouth, Aberdeen, Exeter again, and now Cambridge.

Years working with CE: I started at the beginning of the first lockdown, so not too far off four years.

Role in CE: Research associate. Currently working on developing new approaches to assessing the effectiveness of Conservation Evidence actions. Previously worked on a synopsis for reptile conservation and will soon be diving into work on corals.

Other research/scientific interests: Species reintroductions and translocations.

If I were an animal, I would be: As a redhead that has always enjoyed climbing trees, I definitely feel some affinity with red squirrels.

If I were a fictional character, I would be: Maybe Nigel Thornberry…

A song that might have been written about/for me: This line from Elton John’s Rocket Man sometimes feels very close to home: “And all the science, I don’t understand / It’s just my job five days a week”.

Mastermind specialist subject: The Lord of the Rings according to JRR Tolkien and Peter Jackson: a comparison.

Name: Dr Silviu Petrovan

Hometown: Not sure anymore. Grew up in Resita, a German heritage industrial city in SW Romania surrounded by superb national parks, moved to Bucharest, worked in Central America, studied in Yorkshire (York and Hull) and for the past ten years living in lovely, quaint Stamford.  

Years working with CE: About to start year 8!

Role in CE: I coordinate expert assessments across several synopses (e.g. Primates, Bats, Terrestrial Mammals, Freshwater and Marine Mammals), I co-authored the Primate Synopsis, I edit the What Works in Conservation publication, I work on the strategic development and fundraising and I am working to develop evidence-based guidance for various topics.

Other research/scientific interests: Interests in lagomorphs, wildlife disease (I am a qualified vet!), citizen science, amphibians and reptiles, road ecology mitigation, interventions for bird conservation and various others. I basically love animals.

If I were an animal, I would be: A hornbill. I love fruits and trees and family life and if I could I would love to fly low over tropical forests and rivers, especially in early mornings!

If I were a fictional character, I would be: One of the many bizarre and wonderful characters in Master and Margarita, the Bulgakov book. Or possibly Tintin. 

A song that might have been written about/for me:  Umm… something between The Hills are Alive and Beds are Burning?

Mastermind specialist subject: Frog pigmentation and catching hares using nets for radio-collaring. Also, Balkan style aubergine salad.

Name: Dr Sam Reynolds

Hometown: I grew up in an area between towns on the border of West-Sussex and Surrey.

Years working with CE: One

Role in CE: For the last year I have been the custodian of Metadataset, our platform for performing ‘dynamic meta-analysis’. This is a platform that allows a user to compare and contrast a global evidence base of the effectiveness of actions taken to control invasive species, using a robust mathematical analysis, but in a point and click manner that requires no coding or mathematical ability. My current tasks include thinking about how we integrate AI into Conservation Evidence and authoring a comprehensive synopsis on Anguillid eel conservation.

Other research/scientific interests: Invasive species and how species can alter ecosystem functioning.

If I were an animal, I would be: A brachiosaurus. My younger self would never forgive me if I didn’t choose to be a dinosaur in real life.   

If I were a fictional character, I would be: Lyra Belacqua, from His Dark Materials/The Book of Dust novels. She has an animal shaped daemon, which is fun. Additionally, she can read the Alethiometer to divine the true answer to any question, which would save Conservation Evidence a lot of time.

A song that might have been written about/for me: The Pokémon Theme (Gotta catch ‘em all”). For the following reasons: I want to be the very best, like no one ever was; I want to travel across the land; Every challenge along the way, with courage, I will face, I will battle every day, to claim my rightful place.

Mastermind specialist subject: Peep Show, all series. Any time, any place.

Name: Kate Willott

Hometown: Born in Hertford, schooling in Welwyn, then Bristol, India, back to Bristol, Canberra, briefly back to Bristol again, Nottingham and finally Cambridge!

Years working with CE: 5

Role in CE: Research Assistant & Project Administrator

Other research/scientific interests: Wide interest in most things zoological and botanical, including the benefits of nature for health and well being.

If I were an animal, I would be: A waved albatross, effortlessly travelling long distances without getting lost, and splitting my time between the Galapagos – the most amazing place I’ve ever been – and the Peruvian/Ecuadorian coasts.

If I were a fictional character, I would be: Mystique from the X-men, with super strength, speed and stamina, shapeshifting abilities (that would be sooo much fun!) and regenerative healing powers.

A song that might have been written about/for me: Octopus’s Garden (Beatles) – gardening, whilst scuba diving in the ocean. My favourite things!

Mastermind specialist subject: Popular garden plants, or crisps.

Image credits: Legolas: LOGANSCHILLMIX/DeviantArt, CC BY-NC 3.0 DEED; Squirrel:; Hornbill: Clement 2012/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED; His Dark Materials:; Scuba diver:

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