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Department of Geography

 

 

Prem Gill

PhD Candidate (NERC / WWF funded)

"Seals from Space: the study of Antarctic seals by very high-resolution (VHR) remote sensing", a joint priority project between the Scott Polar Research Institute, the British Antarctic Survey and the World Wildlife Fund.

Biography

Prem Gill is a PhD candidate leading the "Seals from Space: the study of Antarctic pack-ice seals by remote sensing" priority project with the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Outside of this, Prem is heavily interested in increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups, such as Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and working-class persons, to enter non-typical fields (e.g. polar and conservation science) at leading institutes.

As part of this, Prem has founded Polar Impact, a network to support, connect and highlight ethnic minorities in polar research. In addition, through Prem's role as British Antarctic Survey's ECR Diversity Champion he is working with the Foreign Office to develop a Diversity in Antarctic Science Strategy to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Antarctica's discovery.

Prem has used his research to spearhead multiple projects to attract and retain talent from non-traditional backgrounds within polar and conservation science. This work spans a range of audiences, from hosting week-long citizen science and AI/ML hackathon events to creating art installations using Antarctic seal sounds to produce Grime music.

Career

  • 2020: Researcher, Frozen Planet II - BBC Natural History Unit.
  • 2020: Enrichment Student, The Alan Turing Institute.
  • 2018 - present: PhD Candidate, Scott Polar Research Institute - University of Cambridge, British Antarctic Survey and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
  • 2019: DSG Owner, the Alan Turing Institute.
  • 2018: Remote Sensing Researcher, BBC Natural History Unit and British Antarctic Survey.
  • 2013 - 2014: Hydrographic Surveyor, Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V.

Qualifications

  • 2017: BSc. (Honours) (first class), Earth Science: Marine Geography. Award for Best Performance in Final Year.

Awards and grants

  • College Senior Scholarship for academic excellence - Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge.
  • President's Cup 2019 for Best Oral Presentation - Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society (RSPSoc19).

Research

Antarctic ice seals are long-lived, upper trophic level predators and amongst the largest consumers of Antarctic krill. The monitoring of Antarctic ice seal populations can indicate changes in the Antarctic ecosystem's status and health. However, Antarctic seals inhabit the dynamic and inaccessible sea ice zone, making traditional survey methods (e.g. by boat and plane) logistically difficult. As a result of these challenges, reliable population estimates and habitat information for ice seals are critically lacking. To overcome the limitations of traditional surveys, Prem's research looks into the use of very high-resolution (VHR) satellite imagery to study Antarctic ice seals and their sea ice habitat.

Teaching

  • 2020. Guest Lecturer (AI & Immersive Technology for Conservation), MSc/MPhil in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management - University of Oxford.
  • 2020. Immersive Technology for Conservation (Workshop), Digital Catapult.

External activities

Activities

  • British Ecological Society (Member)
  • Cambridge Group for Earth Observation (Member)
  • BAS Artificial Intelligence Lab (Member)
  • Polar Impact: Minorities in Polar Science (Founder)
  • Early Career Research Diversity Champion, British Antarctic Survey
  • Diversity in Antarctic Science Initiative - steering committee member, Foreign and Commonwealth Office / British Antarctic Survey.
  • Seals from Space VR Art Installation - "An immersive VR experience with visuals of the seals and the Antarctic coupled with a UK urban soundtrack interlaced with the calls of the seals. Aimed at a 12 - 19 years old audience we want to showcase the conservation efforts of BAS and how data science techniques with satellite data can be used to monitor and help scientists mitigate and manage the environmental damage being caused by humanity. This is to encourage the audience of the possible career opportunities in conservation and data science". British Antarctic Survey and the Alan Turing Institute.

Coverage


Prem on boat in Antarctica with Weddell seal in background

With a Weddell seal in Antarctica for the spectral survey field project I led.

Prem with class of masters student at Digital Catapult for Conservation Immersive Technology workshop

Group photo with the Oxford University conservation masters students after I organised a lecture and workshop on AI & Immersive Technology for Conservation at the Alan Turing Institute and Digital Catapult, the leading institutes for computer science and digital technologies within Britain.

seal pup

Preparing an orphan seal pup for weight measurement

ATI

Alan Turing Institute: Seals from Space Data Study Group

Seals from Space workshop

A workshop on monitoring polar wildlife from space, attended by Professor Terry Callaghan

Rothera

Navigating penguins and fur seals during a seal survey at Rothera Point, Antarctica.

Searching for ice seals

Locating ice seals during my first boat survey.

Antarctic ice

Introducing students to Antarctic ice during my citizen science for conservation from space workshop.

s

Undertaking training in Svalbard in order to lead safe and effective field projects in polar regions.