Penny Clarke joined CERG in 2021 as part of her PhD with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and University of Edinburgh SENSE CDT programme.
Prior to joining CERG, Penny completed a BSc in Geography at the University of Aberystwyth, with a four month placement taken at the University Centre in Svalbard, it was here where her passion for Polar Regions grew. In recent years Penny stuck with the cold theme, and led whole team support for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT). It was however, after a volunteer placement with Oceanswell, and seeing the power of commitment in realising a dream, that Penny gained the courage to commit to her childhood dream to study cetaceans. Alongside her role with UKAHT, Penny has spent the last 3 years volunteering and interning with the BAS ‘Whales from Space’ team. Her previous projects include ‘Cetacean Strandings from Space’ and a WWF project focused on the wintering whales of the Western Antarctic Peninsula, using satellites.
Penny is also Lead Producer of the European Commissions, EU4Ocean podcast, ‘If Oceans Could Speak’. The podcast shares the stories about the oceans around us, their value and vulnerability, as told through individual connections, to raise awareness for, and inspire positive action towards ocean and environmental stewardship.
Her PhD is an internationally collaborative project with Massey University, CERG, CEAZA, Oceanswell, and JNCC, working to develop satellite imagery as a tool for long term stranding monitoring programmes in remote areas, with the aim to:
develop large and complex training datasets of stranded cetaceans and confounding features, critical for successful automation processes
address the significant technical and practical challenges associated with satellites for stranding monitoring
develop automation techniques for use on stranded cetaceans
test the robustness of successful algorithm(s) and this technology for stranding monitoring in remote regions
The team is also working to collaborate across remote sensing fields to understand predictors for strandings events, to enable a quicker and more informed stranding response. The team hopes to develop this technology using open access software, developing accessible training resources and to develop partnerships with satellite companies to create greater equality of access to satellite data.