Dr Jen Smart, the RSPB’s Head of Conservation Science Scotland & Northern Ireland, has been awarded an Honorary Professorship at the University of East Anglia (UEA) which she will take up from August 2022.  

Jen was nominated for the Honorary Chair position by Professor Jennifer Gill, in recognition of her long-standing work at UEA’s School of Biological Sciences (BIO).  

After doing her undergraduate degree in Ecology and completing her PhD in 2006 at the UEA, Jen has maintained close links with the university over the last 15 years. She has co-supervised five PhDs, 16 Master students, has co-designed and supervised two post-doctoral research programmes, has published 15 peer-reviewed publications with UEA authors and has held an Honorary Lectureship position since 2013.  

In addition to her supervision of students and research collaborations with BIO staff, the award was in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the career development of BIO alumni. Jen has gone to extraordinary lengths to encourage and support the employment and career development of UEA graduates, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in conservation science, some even within the RSPB’s Centre for Conservation Science.

In 2020, Dr Jen Smart cycled 600 miles to raise money for wader conservation

Professor Jeremy Wilson, Director of Science at the RSPB said: “I was delighted by the news of this Honorary Chair to be awarded to Jen Smart. It is richly deserved recognition of the sustained and impressive contribution that Jen has made to conservation both through the high-quality scientific collaborations that she has developed over many years at the University of East Anglia, as well as her dedication to the training and mentoring of new generations of conservation scientists at UEA’s School of Biological Sciences.”

Jen had recently been promoted to Head of Conservation Science, Scotland and Northern Ireland, managing a team of 18 scientists and serving on the leadership teams for RSPB Scotland and the Centre for Conservation Science. Prior to this promotion, she held roles as Head of Species, England, developing species-focussed conservation policy, and as Principal Conservation Scientist, responsible for developing RSPB research on wetlands.

Serving as the current Chair of the International Wader Study Group, Jen has also previously served on the Council of the British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU), as Chair of both the BOU Journal committee and BOU Engagement committee and as a journal Associate Editor, and she has organised numerous national and international conferences and events.

Jen has an excellent publication record and is well-known as an exceptional science communicator, having given many invited presentations to expert and public audiences.

In 2020, Jen was awarded the Marsh Award for Ornithology in recognition of her outstanding work in developing ornithological research and, especially, early-career scientists and she was also awarded the 2015 RSPB award for her outstanding contribution to conservation science. Her research has driven initiatives that have halted, and even reversed, the declines of several species in the UK such as with Project Godwit.

Dr Jen Smart receiving the Marsh Award for Ornithology

Future opportunities

Professor Jennifer Gill, BIO said: “Dr Smart is a world-class researcher with whom we are extremely fortunate to have such well-established and fruitful collaborations. Her recent move to Scotland opens up even more opportunities for MSc, PhD and post-doctoral studies.”