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Swansea animal movement expert awarded prestigious medal for scientific contribution

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Professor Emily Shepard, an expert in the movement ecology of wild animals, has been awarded the prestigious Zoological Society of London (ZSL) Scientific Medal, in recognition of her outstanding research.

The ZSL Scientific Medal is awarded for outstanding contributions by an early career researcher, with up to three awarded annually.

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Professor Shepard’s work focuses on how bird flight is affected by airflows, using biologging technologies in the field, experimental work in wind tunnels, and theoretical models of airflows and flight mechanics.

This novel research has combined bird tracking data with the use of computational fluid dynamics to model airflows at local scale. She has looked at how airflows affect where birds fly, the ability to land, and where seabirds nest.

In addition, Professor Shepard’s use of high-frequency tagging data has provided fascinating insights into the flight strategies of condors. This involved using high-frequency sensors to quantify the amount of time spent flapping, and when and where birds extract energy from the air by circling in thermal updrafts or soaring along windward slopes.

Professor Shepard said: “It’s a huge honour to receive the ZSL Scientific Medal. It has also been a delight to team up with collaborators in biology, meteorology and engineering, which has been fundamental to much of this work.”

Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats.

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On presenting the award to Professor Shepard, the ZSL said: “Emily is recognised as a global leader in this research area, and her contributions to the scientific literature simply cannot be missed. Many of her papers are already seen as classics, and bound to become timeless achievements in the realm of zoological scientific discoveries”.

(Lead image: Swansea University)

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