Meet the team
The Ascension Island MPA is managed by a dedicated team within the Ascension Island Government Conservation and Fisheries Directorate.
They are guided by four external committees that make non-binding but crucial recommendations about how the MPA should be managed.
Ascension Island Government
Dee Baum: Director of Conservation and Fisheries
Dee has led the Conservation and Fisheries Team on Ascension or the past four years. During that time she oversaw the designation of the Ascension Island Marine Protected Area and the drafting of its first management plan. Prior to that, Dee followed a PhD in salmon life histories with a career in conservation management spanning both the public and charities sectors in the Highlands of Scotland. Even after four years on Ascension, she is still surprised when the sea turns out to be warm.
Tiffany Simpson: Marine Conservation Team Leader
Tiffany joined the AIG Marine Team following several years of working in Australia both in government and university positions. She has specialised in the areas of aquatic animal health, marine biosecurity and environmental DNA. She also loves diving, fishing and sailing. She is now enjoying combining all of these skills towards practical applications in conservation, research and long-term monitoring in the hope of helping to safeguard the Ascension Island MPA for the future.
Simon Watkins: MPA Officer
Simon spent many years working in marine conservation in the Indian Ocean and Caribbean after a career change from Pharmaceutical research. Having recently completed an MSc in Island Biodiversity and Conservation in Jersey, his latest adventure finds himself in Ascension Island. A keen scuba diver and underwater photographer he relishes the opportunity to engage with the local community and discover the local wildlife.
Lorna West: MPA Development and Engagement Officer
Lorna is a qualified secondary science teacher with experience teaching in the UK and abroad. She has an MSc in Oceanography and loves to SCUBA. Most recently, Lorna finished working as an Outreach Officer for the Alderney Wildlife Trust, on a small island in the English Channel. Here, she combined her passion for education with wildlife and conservation. She is now looking forward to getting to know the Ascension Island community, and sharing what makes Ascension’s MPA special.
Laura Shearer: Seabird Conservation Scientist
Laura has worked with seabirds for over 10 years since graduating with an MSc in Wildlife Biology and Conservation. On Ascension, her work includes seabird tracking, population and productivity monitoring, reserve management, invasive species control and using seabirds as bio-indicators of the health of the marine environment. In her spare time, Laura volunteers with the Sea Rescue team, is a keen SCUBA diver and coaches football for local teenagers.
Sophie Tuppen: Conservation Field Assistant
Sophie worked in several fieldwork positions for different research projects in South Africa, Canada and the Galapagos following the completion of her BSc in Zoology. She joined the team in 2018 as a Conservation Field Assistant. While her role mainly focuses on assisting the Seabird Scientist, she also works with invasive species clearance and endemic plant restoration within the terrestrial team. She enjoys giving tours of the island’s wildlife and heritage to visitors, having worked previously as a whale watching guide in the Bay of Biscay.
Scientific Advisory Committee
Independent experts in marine conservation and management who volunteer their time to provide guidance and oversight for the Ascension MPA.
- Dr Silvana Birchenough – Cefas
- Professor Graham Edgar – University of Tasmania
- Professor Kerry Howell – University of Plymouth
- Dr Mike Kaiser – Herriot Watt University
- Dr Jim Palardy – Pew Charitable Trusts
- Dr Steffan Oppell – RSPB
- Ness Smith – Marine Management Organisation
- Dr Sam Weber – University of Exeter
- Nick Wise – Oceanmind
- Sarah Young – WWF
MPA Youth Committee
Young people living on Ascension with a passion for marine conservation who volunteer to help develop and promote the MPA.
MPA Steering Group
Volunteers living on Ascension who provide advice on all issues related to management of the MPA.
Inshore Fisheries Advisory Committee
Volunteers drawn from Ascension’s fishing community who make recommendations on the management of the inshore recreational and sports fisheries.
You can get in touch with our team here.