Meet some of the Team

Lauren Fear

Qualifications & previous experience

I completed a BCs (Hons) in Biology and Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter in 2012 and then did an MSc (by research) in Biology in 2014, looking into the impacts of anthropogenic noise on coral reef fish communities. I worked as an Ecological Consultant for approximately five years before joining ITOPF as a Technical Adviser in 2019. 

Why did you apply for the job? 

The job description combined many of my ideals for a career, including working in science and with people, travel, and being challenging. 

What sort of things have you been doing since joining ITOPF? 

I have been lucky enough to be mobilsed for a few spills since joining. This has involved remote island spills as well as spills in ports, across the northern and southern hemisphere. Outside of spill response, I have taken part in training exercises and awareness-raising events for ITOPF. 

Any surprises? 

I think the job description closely matched the job I have been working in for the last 18+ months.

What has been the highlight so far?

Being given the opportunity to work on a remote island in Indonesia, where only a handful of westerners have been recently (it took five days of travelling to reach the island). That was an amazing experience, and working for ITOPF provided this chance.

What are you looking forward too in the job?

I look forward too continuing to provide technical advice in the event of a ship-source marine spill, and I particularly look forward to working with differentgovernments, agencies and organisations to aid an effective response. I enjoy the opportunity to travel and work in different countries, learning and experiencing the nuances of working with different cultures.

Conor Bolas

Qualifications & previous experience

My background before joining ITOPF was mainly focused on the environment and chemistry. In general, it was very varied from doing fieldwork on remote Scottish islands for genetics research on wild sheep to synthesizing pharmaceutical chemicals in industrial laboratories in Switzerland. Immediately prior I was finishing up my atmospheric chemistry PhD at the University of Cambridge, honing my technical and analytical skills.

Why did you apply for the job?

The Technical Adviser role appealed massively to me as it encompassed all the aspects of previous roles that I had enjoyed most. Here was a job where I could tackle real world problems with scientific rigour to effect real change, which for me carried some moral satisfaction. I have always enjoyed the social aspects of my jobs and at ITOPF, the teamworking really appealed as well as the social and diplomatic challenges of dealing with a vast array of cultures and stakeholders under emergency circumstances. The opportunity to travel and experience the world in such a unique way also drew me to the job.

What sort of things have you been doing since joining ITOPF?

Well, as I had hoped, no two days are the same and I never know what new challenges will come my way. I have attended incidents in Brazil, Scotland and, most recently, Mauritius which have all been extremely effective introductions to spill response! Internally, I developed training for the team on chemical fingerprinting of oil and have been involved in the internal HNS working group.

Any surprises?

The biggest surprise for me really was the level of importance that you are propelled to when attending a spill. One day you are in the office preparing training presentations, the next day you could be in a high-energy meeting with some of the top government officials of a new country to discuss emergency measures to protect the environment.

What has been the highlight so far?

The biggest highlight for me so far has been the satisfaction of seeing my advice being followed in key moments of decision making in spill response and seeing the immediate result. An example of this was advising response personnel during an overflight along the Brazilian coast that clean-up of oil near a river inlet should be prioritised to prevent it from washing into a mangrove area and seeing clean-up teams there the next day.

What are you looking forward to in the job?

The unpredictability of this job means you never know where you may find yourself next. I am looking forward to the next call!

Andrew Le Masurier

Qualifications & previous experience

I completed a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science at the University of Southampton in 2014 and subsequently completed an MSc in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment in 2015, with a focus on heavy metal pollution in the UK. Following graduation, I worked as a contaminated land consultant for an engineering consultancy in London for approximately four years before joining ITOPF as a Technical Advisor in September 2019.

Why did you apply for the job?

The job description was fascinating with a combination of environmental science, marine biology alongside travelling internationally in order to provide technical assistance in the event of a ship-source spill. My degrees in environmental sciences and my former employment as an environmental consultant shows that this job is perfectly aligned with my career goals.

What sort of things have you been doing since joining ITOPF?

I have been able to travel internationally twice with one being a mobilisation to Brazil and the other being a presenter at a seminar in Germany. I was also supposed to provide lectures to students at the World Maritime University in Sweden but this was cancelled due to COVID-19. However, ITOPF was able to provide the lectures online remotely. I have also provided technical assistance in remote cases in the Philippines, Taiwan and Iraq, and worked on several contingency planning documents.

Any surprises?

When I joined ITOPF back in September 2019, I could not have expected the global COVID-19 pandemic that would cause widespread international travel restrictions and lead to me primarily working from home. However, in this time ITOPF has still been able to mobilise to site (even though some local quarantine measures are mandatory upon arrival).

What has been the highlight so far?

Being given the opportunity to work in Brazil on a spill mobilisation. I had never been to South America before so it was interesting to see the differences in communication and how the people work. Over time as I attend more mobilisations in different countries I will hope to learn some of the different attitudes to business and their overall cultures.

What are you looking forward to in the job?

I look forward to being able to provide technical advice throughout the world, working alongside governments, authorities, contractors and other organisations in order to provide an effective response to a spill. I am also looking forward to researching into alternative fuels that ITOPF may be asked to assist with in the future in the event of a ship-source spill.

Thomas Sturgeon

Qualifications & previous experience

I completed a BSc in Environmental Science at the University of Plymouth and an MSc in Oceanography at the University of Southampton. Between my studies I worked as field scientist and diver to maintain a range of remote scientific monitoring stations, and after my MSc I trained and worked at sea as an installation engineer and manager in the offshore energy and renewables industry.

Why did you apply for the job?

I felt the Technical Adviser role incorporates the key aspects that I hold in high regard for a career, ie the ability to have a positive impact on society and the environment; promotion of cross border communication and cooperation; and an opportunity for continuous personal development through interaction with experts in a range of disciplines. As well as meeting these criteria, I felt that the management team at ITOPF shared similar values to myself and the role would allow me to maintain a good work-life balance. 

What sort of things have you been doing since joining ITOPF?

Having only joined ITOPF in early 2020, I have spent a large amount of my time working on the WAKASHIO case, both in the field and remotely from home. I have also provided remote advice to the Norwegian Coastal Administration and Gard on shoreline response techniques following a spill of plastic pellets (nurdles) offshore Denmark; and have assisted the IMO in the review of Kenya’s new National Oil Spill Contingency Plan.

What has been the highlight so far?

Having the opportunity to work with such a diverse range of people with differing skills and experiences has probably been the main highlight for me, particularly on the WAKASHIO case. These experiences have certainly been humbling and have provided great learning opportunities.

What are you looking forward to in the job?

Considering the varied nature of the role I am looking forward to my next assignment. In particular, the challenge of applying knowledge in different scenarios and the collaboration, teamwork and stakeholder engagement that is often required to find solutions.

Vision & Mission Statement

"To be a trusted source of objective technical advice worldwide on preparedness and response to accidental marine spills."

"To promote effective response to marine spills of oil, chemicals and other substances as a means of reducing impacts on the environment and affected communities."

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