2015-2016 Talks


June Talk

Date: Wednesday 8th June 2016 Time: 7pm
Speaker: Dr. David Smyth
Title and Current Work Affiliation: Research Assistant Professor, Qatar University, Environmental Studies Center
Title of Presentation: “The Monitoring and Conservation of the Critically Endangered Hawksbill Turtle in Qatar”
Talk Venue:  Environmental Science Center, Qatar University, Building H-10 (Number 39)
Research Complex Ground Floor- Auditorium 
Synopsis of talk
Dr Smyth is now an Assistant Professor of Research based in the Environmental Science Centre at Qatar University and is working on the associated epibiota of the Pearl Oyster Pinctada radiata and is a researcher on the joint Qatar Petroleum and Qatar University Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Project.
The presentation will cover:
  • The current status of the nesting Hawksbill turtle population of Qatar.
  • The reproductive output from the research sites.
  • Anthropogenic and environmental problems faced when maintaining and conserving an IUCN
  •  Red List Turtle species.
Short biography
Dr. Smyth has worked in the field of marine research for over 15 years; his research was initially fishery orientated working on self-sustaining stock enhancement strategies for the “European Flat Oyster” Ostrea edulis and the “Blue Mussel” Mytilys edulis in the UK. 
He was then recruited as project manager for the European Union’s “Horse Mussel” Modiolus modiolus habitat restoration programme in the marine nature reserve of Strangford Lough Northern Ireland.
His work then shifted to Rothera Research station Antarctica where he worked with Professor Lloyd Peck and Dr David Barnes on community structure and biodiversity of the Antarctic bivalves Laternula elliptica and Yoldia eightsi in relation to rising sea temperatures and the effects of benthic ice scouring of icebergs.
More recently he has worked as a researcher on the Ostrea edulis and Crassostrea gigas biogenic reef initiative with Queen’s University Belfast and St. Catherine’s College Cambridge University on habitat enhancement through the use of bio-engineering bivalves.
Dr. Smyth is now an Assistant Professor of Research based in the Environmental Science Centre at Qatar University and is working on the associated epibiota of the Pearl Oyster Pinctada radiata and is a researcher on the joint Qatar Petroleum and Qatar University Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Project. 


Previous Talk 
Date: Wednesday 1st June 2016
Speaker: Dr. Renee Richer
Title and Current Work Affiliation: Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin, Marinette, USA
Title of Presentation: “Water, Water Everywhere Nor Any Drop to Drink”
Note: This event is co-organized by Qatar Natural History Group and Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar 
Talk Venue:  Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar, Lecture Hall 1
Synopsis of talk
Cyanobacteria form a crucial component of the desert ecosystem fundamentally altering conditions on the desert floor and promoting other forms of life. Despite this, much of what we know about cyanobacteria comes from aquatic ecosystems due to the potent toxins they produce. We will delve into the cyanobacteria of Qatar and their role in the desert ecosystem, understand the toxins they produce and possible routes of human exposure, particularly in water. Qatar has an unusual relationship with water facing both extreme scarcity and the challenges associated with disposing of too much water. Come to hear why.
Short biography
Dr. Renee Richer joined University of Wisconsin, Marinette, USA, in August 2014 from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar where she taught biology for 8 years. Dr. Richer received her BA in biology from the University of Chicago and her PhD in biology from Harvard University in 2004. Prior to her work in Qatar she was Director of the Environmental Conservation and Research Center of the American University of Armenia. There she taught environmental science and ecological economics. Her work with bird life in Armenia was recognized by the Whitley Award, the UK’s largest conservation award. Her current work focuses on the intersection of biological processes, conservation and sustainable development with a focus on the ecology of cyanobacteria and toxin production.


May Talk

Date:  Wednesday 4th of May 2016
Speaker:  Aristoteles Georgios Sakellariou
Title and current work affiliation: Head of Conservation, Museum of Islamic Art-Qatar Museums
Title of Presentation: Detecting ‘uninvited visitors’: safeguarding the Museum of Islamic Art collection from pests.
Speaker Bio: Aristoteles received first Master’s degree in Preventive Conservation and Care of Collections, while his second Master’s is in Museum Management. His Bachelors is in Conservation and Restoration. He has been working for Qatar Museums since 2012, while prior to this he was the Head of Conservation at the Islamic Arts Museum of Malaysia. Aristoteles has been lecturing on Care of Collections, administrative and management aspects of it for several universities, institutions and societies. He is the author of the first book in Preventive Conservation in Greece and currently prepares his new monograph on Managing Visits behind the scenes of museums and similar cultural institutions. 
Talk Synopsis:
Just like humans, microorganisms and insects share a great interest for museum objects, but naturally driven by different needs. Some of these ‘uninvited visitors’ attempt to enter the museum, not through the visitors’ entrance, but may hitch a ride on newly acquired objects or the packaging, etc., that comes with. Here, the art conservator becomes a guardian for the welfare of the entire historic collection. Through observation, policies and procedures, s/he manages to monitor, detect and drive microorganisms away. This lecture is about the process a conservator goes through from the moment an object arrives, until its placement in a gallery or storage facility, and the process when uninvited visitors are encountered.

Date:                            Wednesday 20th of April 2016
Speaker:                      Dr. Nobuyuki Yamaguchi, Associate Professor,
                                     Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Qatar University
Title of Presentation: Desert hedgehogs in Qatar
Speaker Bio:
Biographical sketch: 
BSc (Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan)
MSc (Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan)
DPhil (Oxford University, Oxford, UK) on basic ecology of feral American mink in the Upper Thames
Research interests:
Evolution and conservation of felids, especially, lion, tiger, and wildcat (e.g. Scottish wildcat)
Evolution of reproductive strategies
Behavioural ecology
Talk Synopsis:
Some people may not know there are hedgehogs indigenous to Qatar. They are desert-adapted Ethiopian hedgehogs. I talk about this little-known hedgehog species with special references to their ecology and behaviour based on what we have found through our hedgehog project.  



Previous Talk

Date:                            Wednesday 2sd of March 2016
Speaker:                      Neil G Morris, Consultant Ornithologist
Title of Presentation: Discovering the Birds of Qatar
Speaker Bio:
Neil's passion for ornithology started at the tender age of eleven and was cemented in his early twenties during six years' employment at the headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Sandy, Beds. However, Neil's professional career took him in a rather different direction. After graduating with BSc (Joint Hons) in Botany and Zoology at Bristol University, Neil worked in advertising and marketing, specialising in not-for-profit organisations. He consolidated his marketing and management interests by helping to establish The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM), an independent educational trust which became the world’s leading body for the professional development of direct, data and digital marketing. As Director and General Manager of the Membership Company, Director of Digital Marketing Training Services and Deputy Managing Director of the overall organisation, Neil was a frequent commentator in the marketing press and a member of a number of UK national steering committees for marketing education and professional practice.
In 2012, Neil left the IDM and with his family moved to Qatar, where he was able to indulge his passion for birds, wildlife and photography! Neil's birdwatching credits include finding 'firsts' for three different counties in the UK, including the famous Red-flanked Bluetail at Winspit, Dorset in 1993 which attracted more than 3,000 birdwatchers (and newspaper reporters) from across the UK. In Qatar, he discovered nine new species and eight new sub-species for the country list, and continues to serve as Secretary of the Qatar Bird records Committee (QBRC). Recently, he has discovered the first Kumlien's Gull to be sighted on the Isle of Man, where he now resides and serves as a member of the Manx Birds Rarities Committee.
Talk Synopsis:  Using many of his own photographs taken in Qatar, Neil's presentation will describe the common, and not so common, birds of Qatar's cities, coasts, farmlands and desert. From the familiar and cheerful Bulbuls found in gardens and parkland, to the elusive and endangered Coursers of the desert, Neil will offers tips on when and where to find birds in Qatar and how to identify them. And drawing on the latest migration tracking studies, Neil will reveal some of the perilous - and surprising - journeys that bring so many bird species to Qatar. The use of ever-more sophisticated research technologies is now providing a remarkable window into the challenges faced by birds, the impact of mankind on their populations and their future survival prospects. There will be a chance to see many of the species Neil describes during two bird watching field trips following the presentation, led by Neil and fellow QBRC member Simon Tull. 

Previous Talk 
Date: Wednesday 3rd February 2016
Speaker: Sara Abdul Majid, Research Specialist at Weill Cornell Medical College
Title of Presentation: What Lurks Beneath the Surface of a Qatari Sand Dune

Speaker Bio  Sara Abdul Majid is an environmental scientist and dedicated conservationist.  Born and raised in Qatar, she has developed a passion for the unique desert environment of the country.  She has experience in ecological surveys, lab analysis and environmental impact assessments.  Sara has worked with environmental consulting firms in the region such as URS, COWI, Worley Parsons and WSP, mainly conducting terrestrial and/ or marine field surveys including the characterisation of baseline flora, fauna, soil/sediment and groundwater conditions.  She is currently leading a project on estimating the population of Scincus mitranus and studying the ecology of Barchan dunes in Qatar. Sara has also co-authored An Illustrated Checklist of the Flora of Qatar (2009). 
Talk Synopsis:  Have you ever wondered what kind of creatures, if any, dwell beneath the surface of a sand dune? This talk covers the ecology of mobile barchan dunes, south of Doha city. Depending on their size, these dunes can migrate 5-50m per year.  In addition to harbouring a rich microbiome, and animal diversity, the dunes are the sole habitat to the eastern sandfish Scincus mitranus in Qatar. For the first time in the country, a total of 108 sandfish were captured and tagged from 5 terrestrial and 3 coastal Barchan dunes in the south-eastern part of Qatar.  DNA analysis from the tails of 62 individuals prove that sandfish may move, procreate and cross-recruit among the dunes either by traveling on the rocky floor or when dunes collide and separate over time.  Our study is a  first effort to characterize the ecology of barchan sand dunes in Qatar and as such it serves as a baseline to future studies on this unique and mobile habitat.

 Previous Talk 

Date: Wednesday 20th January 1016 at 7:00 pm at DESS
Speaker: Prof Robert Carter, PhD,  Professor of Arabian and Middle Eastern Archaeology, UCL Qatar.
Title of presentation: Purple Island: four thousand years of occupation on a very small island in the bay of Al-Khor  

Speaker Bio    
   Professor Robert Carter obtained his PhD in archaeology at UCL, previously having studied history at Oxford. He has conducted research in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaimah and Fujairah, and published on topics ranging from Neolithic seafaring to the historic pearl fishery of the Gulf, and 20th century urbanism. His first visit to Qatar occurred in 2000, when he participated in Birmingham University’s excavations on Bin Ghanim Island (aka Purple Island, Al Khor Island). He is currently conducting a QNRF-funded interdisciplinary study of Doha and its people, from its foundation to the first impact of oil revenues.


Synopsis of the talk    

Purple Island (Bin Ghanim Island) is best known as the location of a dye-manufacturing site dating to the late second millennium BC (Kassite or post-Kassite Period), excavated by a French team in the 1980s. Here expensive dye was made from a specific species of gastropod, possibly for redistribution to the elites of Bahrain, Mesopotamia and neighbouring regions. This recalls an enigmatic connection with the Phoenicians, who later manufactured purple dye in the Mediterranean and whose original homeland, according to some authorities, was not far away in Bahrain. This was not the only archaeological occupation discovered on the island. The island contains a scatter of earlier Bronze Age pottery and features (Early Dilmun period, ca. 2000 BC), suggesting that it was integrated into the maritime trading and fishing activities of the Dilmun civilization, based in Bahrain. Additionally there was re-occupation during the Sasanian period, comprising a possible village or extensive campsite in the western part of the island, as well as remains dating to the most recent three centuries AD. Apart from the (post-)Kassite dye-manufacturing site, all of these occupations are represented by campsite remains or relatively ephemeral villages, probably connected to sea-fishing and pearl-fishing activities as well as wood-gathering, hunting and grazing. In this respect the archaeology of the island is highly typical of the coastal and islands region of the Gulf coast, where a surprising amount of archaeology of many different periods can be found scattered across small and apparently isolated islands, the legacy of many thousands of visits across the millennia.




Previous Talks:
Date: Wednesday 6th January 1016 at 7:00 pm at DESS
Speaker: Dr. Mohammed Al-Duais - Natural Sciences Programme Assistant, UNESCO
Title of presentation: Bridging the Generation Gap to Protect Nature in Yemen: Conservation of Nature through Culture

Speaker Bio    

Dr. Mohammed Al-Duais was the Director of the Foundation of Endangered Wildlife (FEW) in Yemen and is now the responsible for the UNESCO Natural Science Sector office in Doha. He has also serveed as an Assistant Professor at Ibb University since 2009. Dr. Al-Duais earned his BSc from the Jordanian University of Science and Technology in 1996 followed by a MSc in Biology from Al AlBayt University in 2003 and a PhD in Biology from Freidric Schiler University, institiute of ecology in 2009, Germany. Dr. Al-Duais was a Fulbright Researcher at the Bioactive Botanical ResearchLaboratory of the University of Rhode Island, USA in 2011 and 2012 where he researched medicinal plants from Yemeni ethnobotany. Following his work as a Fullbright Researcher, Dr. Al-Duais worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the summer of 2013 at the Institute of Ecology, Freidreic Schiler University in Germany. He has attended more than 35 international workshops & conferences and was notibly honored with the Shield of the Fifth Session at the international Geotunis Conference in 2010. During his work with FEW, he played a role in the expansion of activities and improving the credentials of the foundation at national and international levels. He also managed conservation projects throughout Yemen with the largest and most recent two projects, namely "Building Advocacy and Developing a Management Plan for the “High Mountains of Ibb Protected Areas” granted by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and “the Migratory Soaring Birds Project, Yemen part” by Birdlife international. Some of his activities resulted in several publications in well established journals and books.


Synopsis of the talk    

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” Albert Einstein. Equilibrium is a target for each dynamic system including all the ecosystems. Losing of equilibrium ends with ecosystem dysfunction and hence less support to human wellbeing. Bridging the generation gap to protect nature is a great approach to conserve of nature through cultural awareness and retain ecosystem functioning.




Previous Talks:
Date: Tuesday  1st December 2015 at 7.00pm at Research Complex Ground Floor- Auditorium
Speaker: Jeff OBBARD, Ph.D.,  Director, Environmental Science Center, Qatar University
Title of Presentation: Dangerous Climate Change: Are We Closer Than We Think?

See pictures from the presentation on our Facebook Page


Speaker Bio 
Dr. Jeff Obbard is currently the Director of the Environmental Studies Center (ESC) at Qatar University. Prior to joining the ESC, he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He also served as Research Director at the Tropical Marine Science Institute at NUS, and held a joint-appointment with the Science & Engineering Research Council (SERC) in Singapore, as  a Principal Scientist. He is also Technical Director of his university spin-off company, AiRazor Technologies, which manufactures devices to protect personal health from indoor air pollution. On a sabbatical from NUS between 2010 and 2012, he served as Vice President for Science & Technology in a joint-venture company of Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum in Hawaii, USA. His work was focussed on the development of microalgae as a renewable-energy resource. He has also served as an invited Expert Reviewer on the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on climate change in (2012-2013), and was recognized as a Top 100 ‘Global Sustainability Leader’ in 2014 by SustainAbility Showcase Asia. Prior to his appointment at NUS, he worked as a Senior Environmental Scientist & Consultant for SKM Enviros - a British environmental consultancy firm specializing in waste management & disposal, and was based in the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. He has published widely in the field of environmental science, and has a citation index in excess of 5,500 based on about 150 scientific publications. He has also served as a consultant in Asia, the Middle East and the USA on environmental projects related to his research. 
Synopsis of the talk 
Next week, representatives from 195 countries will arrive in Paris to take part in a major United Nations climate summit, COP 21, to limit global temperature increases to no more than an average of 2oC to avoid what the UN refers to as dangerous anthropogenic (human) interference with the climate system. Previous UN meetings have had outcomes ranging from optimistic to disappointing, often ending without agreement or progress. There are high hopes that COP21 will be different. This presentation will highlight recent scientific evidence from global observational data and the Earth’s climate history to ask whether the 2oC target is too high, whether we are already closer than we think too dangerous climate change, and what options we have for avoiding it. 
 Venue: Qatar University
Building H-10 (Number 39 in attached map)
Research Complex Ground Floor- Auditorium
Start Time: 07:00:00PM - Tuesday 01 December 2015
Duration: 2 hours
End Time: 09:00:00PM - Tuesday 01 December 2015 


Previous Talks:

Date: Wednesday  4th November 2015 at 7.00pm at DESS

Speaker: Dr Xiomara Marquez, Senior Geologist, Maersk Oil Research and Technology Centre, Doha, Qatar

Title of Presentation: Surface Geology of Qatar

Speaker Bio:  

Xiomara was born in Caracas, Venezuela just yesterday if you measured time in millions of years?. She went to school in Venezuela (BSc) and Canada (MSc. And PhD) and initiated her professional career as a Carbonate Geologist 30 years ago. She specializes in diagenesis and pore system characterisation of hydrocarbon reservoirs. Prior to joining Maersk Oil in Qatar in 2011, she spent 10 years as a carbonate reservoir geologist at Shell International Exploration and Production, Shell Venezuela and PDO. She also worked for PDVSA, Maraven S.A. and Intevep S.A. Xiomara’s interest focuses upon the impact that diagenetic processes have on the hydrocarbon flow properties of carbonate reservoirs, including pore system geometry and wettability. Xiomara’s hobbies include reading, globe travelling and driving around Qatar during the weekends looking for fossils; she loves cats and has a passion for jewellery making. Trekking is her favourite sport.

Wednesday  7th October 2015 at 7.00pm (meeting commence at 6.15)

Talk will start at 7.15 pm, DESS
Speaker: Dr Lulu Skidmore, Scientific Director of the Camel Reproduction Centre, Dubai, UAE

Title of Presentation: The Uniqueness of Camels

Summary of Presentation

Presentation will include some of the unique features of camels and their physiology that makes them so well adapted to the desert and the hot temperatures in which they live. Why they are so important to the people here and in those that live in arid environments and also the latest in exciting reproductive technologies that improve their reproductive performance.

Speaker Bio:  

Dr Lulu Skidmore completed her initial BSc (Hons) degree in Animal Science at Wye College, University of London (UK), after which she spent 5 years working with Prof. WR (Twink) Allen at the Equine Fertility Unit, Newmarket as a research assistant working on several projects involving all aspects of equine reproduction.   In 1991 she registered at University of Cambridge (UK) to start a PhD project entitled "Reproduction in the dromedary camel" under the supervision of Prof WR Allen, during which time she spent the camel breeding season (October – April) at the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai doing field work with the camels.   Since successfully completing her PhD in 1994 she has been employed as the Scientific Director of the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai to continue projects involving all aspects of camel reproduction such as embryo transfer of fresh, cooled and frozen embryos, artificial insemination of fresh, cooled and frozen semen, follicular dynamics and hormone concentrations throughout the oestrous cycle, diagnosis and endocrinology of pregnancy, control of luteolysis and maternal recognition of pregnancy, hybridization of New and Old World Camelids.