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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.


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).

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 hackathon events to creating art installations using Antarctic seal sounds to produce Grime music.


  • 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.


  • 2017: BSc. (Honours) (first class), Earth Science: Marine Geography, Cardiff University.

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).


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.


  • 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


  • Royal Geographical Society (Trustee)
  • Polar Impact: Minorities in Polar Science (Founder)
  • Cambridge Group for Earth Observation (Member)
  • BAS Artificial Intelligence Lab (Member)
  • 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.


Prem on boat in Antarctica with Weddell seal in background

An image of a Weddell seal in Antarctica taken during a spectral survey of ice seals.

Prem with class of masters student at Digital Catapult for Conservation Immersive Technology workshop
Group photo with the Oxford University conservation masters students for a workshop I organised on AI & Immersive Technology for Conservation at the Alan Turing Institute and Digital Catapult.

seal pup

Preparing a seal pup for weight measurement.


Alan Turing Institute - Seals from Space Data Study Group.

Seals from Space workshop

A workshop on monitoring polar wildlife from space.

Antarctic ice

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


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