STAFF and HONORARY RESEARCH FELLOWS
The Harrison Institute has a small number of dedicated staff and honorary research fellows based in the UK and abroad. They are currently working in Asia, Africa and Melanesia.
Dr Paul Bates has been the Director of the Harrison Institute since 1994. During this time he has described/co-described 19 mammal species new to science and helped raise over $2.3 million in project money for biodiversity research, capacity building, and conservation projects in Asia, Arabia and Africa.
Awarded an honorary doctorate by the Prince of Songkla University, Thailand for services to the university sector in Southeast Asia, he has successfully supervised a series of MSc and PhD students from Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, UK, Vietnam and Zambia, including two who were recently awarded the prestigious international Spallanzani Award for distinguished bat research.
Paul received his MA in Geography from Oxford University and his PhD from Royal Holloway College, London University. He has published extensively on mammal diversity in the Old World tropics, including two monographs, The Mammals of Arabia and the Bats of the Indian Subcontinent. Although he has a particular interest in Myanmar, where he has carried out biodiversity research, capacity building and community-based conservation projects, he also has considerable experience in sub-Saharan Africa, Arabia and elsewhere in Asia.
He has been the principal investigator of four UK government funded Darwin Initiative projects and is the project manager of one EU Erasmus+ project (MuEuCAP). He is also a founder member of BCA (Bat Conservation Africa) and SEABCRU (SE Asia Bat Conservation and Research Unit).
He is a scientific advisor to WABNet (West Asian Bat Network), which seeks to promote an understanding of bats and the transmission of coronavirus.
Beatrix Lanzinger has worked for the Harrison Institute since 2010 and is an award-winning project manager for her overseas community-based conservation projects.
Her ecotourism project, Destination Ayeyarwady, which links the conservation of the endangered Irrawaddy River dolphin to community development in two fishing villages, was awarded Myanmar’s ‘Best Community Involvement in Tourism' for 2017, an ASEAN award for Ecotourism in 2019, and a runners-up prize in 2020.
Beatrix seeks to develop community-led initiatives that promote the conservation of natural and cultural heritage within the context of poverty alleviation and developing alternative livelihoods.
As such, her responsibilities include: designing and implementing community projects in the field; building in-country collaborative partnerships; liaising and working with all stakeholders, including central and local government; and promoting the Harrison Institute’s work to the media and other interested organisations.
Aung Toe Khaing is based in Mandalay in Myanmar and has worked for the Harrison Institute on community-based conservation projects since 2014. As part of the team led by Beatrix Lanzinger, he was a key member ensuring that the Harrison Institute’s initiative on the Ayeyarwady River was recognised with awards for its excellence in 2017, 2019 and 2020. He also represents the Institute when talking to the media about the project (further information).
Proficient in English and with exceptional interpersonal skills, Aung Toe Khaing, known to everyone as ‘Ko Toe’ provides the link between the international team and the village communities, making certain that villagers feel a genuine ownership of community projects whilst ensuring that ideas become practical realities on the ground.
With a strong background in tourism, Ko Toe also provides an excellent insight into the possibilities and the potential risks of ecotourism/nature tourism in communities that have little or no previous experience of working with foreigners.
Dr Pipat Soisook is an award winning curator of mammals at the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Natural History Museum, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand. As an honorary research fellow of the Harrison Institute, he has collaborated extensively with the Institute on biodiversity projects in Southeast Asia, southern Asia and Arabia. His MSc and PhD were both co-supervised by Paul Bates.
Pipat has published prodigiously and has described/co-described one genus, nine species and three subspecies of bat new to science. In addition, he has helped raise one family of bats and two species from the synonymy. For this work, he was awarded in 2016 the prestigious international Spallanzani Award.
Pipat was seconded to a UNESCO project in upper Myanmar, worked with FFI on a survey of limestone karst bats in eastern Myanmar, and undertook a survey and training programme with the Harrison Institute in southern Oman. In addition, Pipat has helped train numerous students, rangers and conservation workers in Thailand and elsewhere in Southeast and southern Asia and in Arabia. He actively promotes biodiversity conservation in the Old World tropics.
Awatsaya Pimsai is an honorary research fellow of the Institute. A staff member of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Natural History Museum, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand, she studied rodent diversity in the Thai-Malay peninsula for her MSc. This research was co-supervised by Paul Bates and resulted in a 99 page paper published in the Bonn Zoological Bulletin.
In addition to her research, Awatsaya has led capacity-building training workshops in Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. She took part, as a rodent specialist, in a World Heritage UNESCO project in upper Myanmar and for FFI in the limestone karst of eastern Myanmar. Currently, she is seconded to a ’Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases’, which is based in Cambodia and is coordinated by the Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore (further information).
In 2019, she was awarded 'Outstanding Staff member of Prince of Songkla University (and Outstanding staff member for the Faculty of Science)' (further information) and has recently won a scholarship to study for her PhD in Japan.
Dr Iroro Tanshi, who is an honorary research fellow of the Institute, completed her early studies at the University of Benin, Nigeria, where she received her BSc (1st Class Honours) in 2008. For her Masters, she studied at Leeds University, UK. She recently completely her PhD in Dr Tigga Kinston's laboratory in Texas Tech University, USA.
Her research and conservation focus is on the rich diversity of bat species in some of the last remaining areas of primary forest in Nigeria, namely the two protected areas of Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary and Cross River National Park, both in SE Nigeria.
For her work in conserving the 'IUCN Vulnerable' Short tailed Roundleaf bat, Hipposideros curtus, she received in 2020 the highly prestigious international FFN Award (further information) and in 2021 was awarded a Whitley Award (further information).
Dr David Waldien is an honorary research fellow of the Institute. The Institute has worked with Dave for a number of years on initiatives in the Old World tropics, for example in Africa, where he planned and convened the first ever African Bat Conservation workshop and in Asia, where both Dave and the Institute were an integral part of SEABCRU (Southeast Asian Bat Conservation and Research Unit).
Dave is a conservation biologist who promotes and facilitates sustainable conservation through teaching, research, training, and empowerment. He has been the program manager, fundraiser, and administrator of diverse project portfolios and has helped secure over $4.9M in support of international research and conservation projects in countries as diverse as Cambodia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Guinea, Kenya, Rwanda, Ecuador, Mexico, United States, and Venezuela.
Dave's particular interests include working with indigenous people to ensure that conservation ensures mutual benefits for both wildlife and local communities; protecting rare, range restricted endangered species, such as the monkey-faced fruit bat of Papua New Guinea; and mentoring postgraduate students to ensure that the next generation of conservation leaders can help protect the world’s biosphere.
Dr Parvathy Venugopal is an honorary research fellow of the Harrison Institute who recently completed her PhD at Bristol University. A Commonwealth Scholar, she completed both her BSc and MSc at the Forestry College of Kerala Agricultural University. In the latter degree, she specialised in wildlife studies. She won prestigious awards for the quality of her school work, BSc and MSc. Her PhD focused on aspects of Indian bat diversity and evolutionary history and, inter alia, included reference to many specimens held in the collections of the Harrison Institute.
Parvathy is biodiversity scientist with a passion for conservation biology and for communicating science to the public. Her multidisciplinary training ensures that she can combine many different approaches to get at the truth, including traditional taxonomy, molecular techniques, geometric morpho-metrics, and bioacoustics. She is also conversant with statistical packages, such as 'R' and with distribution modelling techniques that can help understand and predict range shifts in species.
Trained in India and the UK, she enjoys working in both Europe and Asia, combining the strengths of the two scientific cultures. She is committed to using science to promote and facilitate conservation and to using outreach and communication to explain the importance of biodiversity conservation/ environmental protection to a new generation in Europe, Asia and worldwide.
Hnin Witt Yee has worked as a consultant for the Harrison Institute since 2014. As Managing Director of the Yangon-based travel agency GeoDiscover Travel, she provided a vital link between the villagers and the tourism industry in the Institute’s community-based conservation project ‘Destination Ayeyarwady’.
Her role ensured that villagers had a well organised diary of visits, were prepared for each tourist group, and were not overwhelmed by too many visitors. In this capacity, she represented the project when receiving the award for Myanmar’s ‘Best Community Involvement in Tourism' for 2017.
Hnin was an official member of the team who represented Myanmar at a regional conference in Lao PDR on ‘Methods and Strategies for Implementing Public Private Partnerships in the Tourism Sector’ for Southeast Asia.
Dr Neil Furey is an honorary research fellow and has collaborated with the Institute since 2007. During this time, joint outputs have included the co-supervision of MSc and PhD students, the description of several bat species new to science, and a series of publications on the bat fauna of Southeast Asia, especially Cambodia and Vietnam.
Currently based in Cambodia, much of Neil’s work, in addition to his prolific research, focuses on strengthening national capacity in conservation biology. This is achieved through his contributions to the Centre for Biodiversity at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
In addition, he has worked throughout the region on a range of projects including biodiversity surveys, monitoring a diverse range of taxa, site-based management, capacity-building programmes, community livelihood development and awareness-raising initiatives. His many activities were described in an article in the Irish Times.
Neil has co-produced two major publications on the Indochinese bird fauna and is Chief Editor of the Cambodian Journal of Natural History.
U Hpone Thant, known as ‘Harry’, has collaborated with the Harrison Institute on a range of projects in Myanmar since 1999. With unrivalled knowledge of tourism and the cultural history of Myanmar, Harry is a great communicator and helps promote the Institute’s community-based projects to the widest possible audience.
Harry has worked extensively on a range of initiatives in Myanmar, including ‘Approaches to Responsible Tourism and Human Rights in Myanmar’; GIZ’s ‘Manual for Sustainable Hotel Management in Inlay Lake Region’; ICIMOD’s ‘Destination Management Plan for Inlay region’; and the Business Innovation Facility’s (BIF), ‘Myanmar Tourist Guide Sector: Policy Framework’, funded by DFID (UK).
He is senior advisor to UMTA (Union of Myanmar Tourism Association) and to MTF (Myanmar Tourism Federation) and represents UMTA on JICA's Expert Team (JET) on the Bagan Management Plan for UNESCO World Heritage listing.
Paul Webala is a senior lecturer in wildlife biology at the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management, Maasai Mara University, Kenya. He is an award-winning regional expert on small mammals, especially bats, with extensive fieldwork experience. Collaborating with scientists from around the world, one of his principal interests are the processes that drive rarity and abundance of mammals in natural and human-dominated environments. This research involves behavioural, ecological, and systematic/taxonomic questions and is central to his work of promoting bat conservation in Africa.
Paul has published extensively in international journals; is co-chair of Bat Conservation Africa and a science advisor to Bat Conservation International (USA); and together with colleagues has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for science, capacity building, and biodiversity conservation projects in Africa.
He has collaborated with the Harrison Institute on a range of research and conservation initiatives, including most recently on a GBIF project in Zambia.
Creasey Son & Wickenden, Sevenoaks provide accountancy services for the Institute.
Rathbones Brothers PLC provide financial management of the Institute's investments.