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About RZSS

RZSS Board



Professor Mary Bownes, BSc D.Phil OBE FRSE FRES FRSB – Board Chair

Mary is an Emerita Professor of Developmental Biology at the University of Edinburgh. She is also a trustee of the National Museums of Scotland, and Program Convenor for the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Mary ran a team investigating genetics, developmental biology, molecular biology, and endocrinology. She also taught these subjects at all levels to undergraduates and trained a large number of PhD students. She became Head of the School of Cell and Molecular and Biology. She was involved in a lot of initiatives relating to the training of postgraduate students and in public engagement, not just with science but across the whole university sector in Edinburgh. She also established strategic partnerships for the university with organisations in Scotland that are involved in education and research including RZSS.

Mary went on to be senior vice principal at the University of Edinburgh.


Kerry Falconer, MBA, FIOBS – Board Member – Chair of the Business Advisory Group

Kerry retired from The Royal Bank of Scotland Group after 38 years service in a number of areas including Financial Markets, Retail Banking and Group Office. Her most recent role was Managing Director, Banking for Adam & Company a private banking arm of RBS. Married to Graham, she lives in Edinburgh.

Kerry joined RZSS board in August 2014


Sandy Batho, MA, FCIPD – Board Member – Chair of the Nominations & Remuneration Committee and Board Member

Sandy has had a career in HR and has worked at a very senior level in some significant organisations including Babcock International, Royal Mail, TransAmerica, SAPPI and Esso UK.  He was also Director of HR and Change for the National Trust for Scotland, working with another large charity with a significant member base and a large team of volunteers.  Sandy has a keen interest in conservation, has a passion for ornithology and has been a supporter of Edinburgh Zoo since childhood.


Peter Budd – Board Member

Peter is currently a Non-Executive Director with Arup, having previously worked with the firm for over 45 years in a full time capacity as a Chartered civil/structural engineer.  His experience included tours of duty in the USA, the Middle East, East Asia and Central Africa.  He was involved in many of Arup’s most prestigious projects and set up and ran successful Arup businesses in the UK and in North America.  From 1998 to 2016 Peter also led Arup’s Global Aviation business.   Peter has been involved in a number of public sector initiatives promoting the profession and international trade and was appointed CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list July 2017 for services relating to developing Sino-British trade.


John Fitzgerald BSc FCIPD – Board Member

John graduated from University College Dublin with a first class BSc Honours degree in Zoology, followed by five years’ post-graduate research study on fish physiology at Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory. After four years in the hotel industry, he moved into the Financial Services sector. John spent over 13 years with AEGON working in a variety of departments starting in Corporate Pensions and then Human Resources before moving to Standard Life in 2010. John currently works for abrdn plc in HR, where he manages pay, bonus and incentive arrangements for over 5,000 employees. He is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and a member of the Governing Body of the Saola Working Group. John has been a member of the RZSS since 2003 and a Board Member since 2012. He lives in Edinburgh and is a frequent visitor with his wife to both Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park.


Prof. Roger Wheater, OBE, D.Univ, C.BIOL, FRSB, FRSA, FRSGS, FRZSS, FRSE – Board Member

Roger was the Director of Uganda National Parks prior to his appointment as CEO to RZSS in 1972 a post that he held for 26 years until his retirement. During this period and during his retirement he has chaired a wide range of organisations including the World Zoo Organisation, the European Association of Zoo's and Aquaria and the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria. He was also a Board Member and Deputy Chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage, Chairman of the National Trust for Scotland and President of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Association of British Wild Animal Keepers.


Dr Karen Blackport, PhD MBA – Vice-chair

Dr Karen Blackport is an experienced scientist and businesswoman, with over 20 years of experience in the international life sciences industry, gained from senior roles within private and public organisations in the UK and Australia, including Kyowa Kirin International and the University of Queensland, Brisbane. Karen has recently refocused on environmental sustainability and conservation, establishing an environmental consultancy business, which aims to engage with and support individuals and organisations in reconnecting with the importance of biodiversity and the environment.

Karen is a prior member of the Government's Scottish Science Advisory Council and is a co-founder of Alfacyte Limited (now ILC Therapeutics). She is educated to PhD level (Glasgow: Biochemistry), has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and is currently studying for a MSc in Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health at the University of Edinburgh.

Karen has been involved with RZSS in some capacity for most of her life, from conducting research into environmental enrichment in Diana monkeys at Edinburgh Zoo as a student, a volunteer and has been a Trustee since 2014.

 Karen lives near Earlston in the Scottish Borders with her husband Jamie and their two young children.


Prof. Alan Miller, BSc, PhD, CPhys, FRSE, FInstP, FIEEE, FOSA – Board Member

Alan, born in Dunfermline, is a graduate of Edinburgh and Bath Universities. Following a career in teaching and research in a number of internationally leading research centres in the UK and USA (Texas and Florida), he held appointments as Vice Principal at St Andrews (2003-2008) and Deputy Principal at Heriot-Watt University (2009-2014). He was a member of the Scottish Funding Council Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee (2003-2010). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Institute of Physics (UK), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (USA) and the Optical Society of America (USA), and served on RSE Council as Fellowship Secretary (2011-14).

He has enjoyed regular visits to Edinburgh Zoo since childhood, subsequently with his children, and now with his grandchildren, and played a role in the creation of Living Links while in St Andrews. Now as Emeritus Professor he organises leadership programmes and promotes public engagement of science in initiatives that foster innovative collaborations across all disciplines and between diverse organisations including RZSS. Since May 2015 he was appointed CEO and Graduate School Director of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA), a strategic partnership between 8 Scottish universities.


Deborah. J. Long Ph.D. B.A. (Hons). FRSGS – Board Member

Deborah is Head of Plantlife in Scotland and has been with the charity for 12 years. In this time, she has built up the Plantlife Scotland team, a strong reputation with policy makers, partners and wider public audiences and promoted the beauty, value and distinctiveness of Scottish nature. Deborah chairs Scottish Government’s Biodiversity Habitats and Species Group, Plant Link Scotland and Garden for Life Forum. She is a member of BBC Scotland’s Rural Affairs & Agriculture Advisory Committee and a member of Perth & Argyll Regional Forestry Forum.

As a Palaeoecologist, her outlook is based in a detailed understanding of ecological relationships that have developed over millennia and are deeply influenced by human activities. It is her expertise in plant ecology and vegetation history that underpins her contributions to ongoing developments in ecosystem and habitat conservation. She interprets ecology for a wide range of audiences through different media from print to radio, TV and lectures. She lives in Perthshire.


Dr Karen MacEachern, BSc, BVMS, PhD, Cert  EM (Int Med), MRCVS – Board Member

Karen is a veterinary surgeon and senior lecturer at the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine. She is originally from the East Coast of the USA, where she took an undergraduate degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. She did her Veterinary Degree and PhD in Veterinary Pharmacology at the University of Glasgow. Karen then worked in the University of Liverpool Equine Hospital as a lecturer for three years before moving back to Glasgow to take up a position at the Weipers Centre Equine Hospital at the university. She also worked as a racecourse vet for 15 years.
She has been a member of RZSS for over 10 years, was co-opted in 2016 and elected on to the board of trustees in 2017 and is a member of the RZSS Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee, Conservation Advisory Group and Chair of the Education Advisory Group.
Karen now runs the wildlife conservation courses in both the veterinary and bioscience undergraduate programmes and is Programme Director for the Master’s in Wildlife and Livestock Management in the School of Veterinary Medicine. Karen leads wildlife conservation field exercises for students in Scotland and Sub-Saharan Africa, where she has research interests in lion genetics and human wildlife conflict. She is a member of Vet Sustain and has particular interest in improving biological diversity and sustainability within the university and local community.


Dr Richard Rutnagur – BA (Oxon), PhD. (Glasgow) – Board Member

Richard was co-opted onto the Board in December 2017, having previously served on the Business Advisory Committee for RZSS since 2015. His background is in Sales and Marketing having worked in consulting and financial services since 1994, joining KPMG in 2000. Prior to that he worked for British Aerospace Commercial Aircraft, operating in S.E. Asia and the Indian sub-continent. A zoologist by academic background, Richard completed his undergraduate degree at New College, Oxford under Professor Richard Dawkins before completing a PhD. in the field of evolutionary biology with Professor Michael Hansell at Glasgow University. As a postgraduate, Richard led a 30-person expedition from Glasgow Univ. to undertake a series of conservation projects on behalf of the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. A lifelong passion for natural history and conservation and a keen SCUBA diver, Richard brings a combination of scientific understanding and commercial acumen to the RZSS Board.


Katie Lennox – BS(Hons) – Trustee

Katie is finalising her masters degree, specialising in animal welfare science, ethics and law at the University of Glasgow, where she also achieved a first class honours in veterinary sciences. She has spent the last 11 years volunteering with various animal organisations and charities throughout Scotland, working with a wide range of species and situations. Katie currently resides in Glasgow with her partner, cats, and guinea pigs. She also creates digital art and design, and accepts portrait and logo commissions from clients all over the world.


Dr Andrew Kitchener – Honorary Fellow

Dr Andrew Kitchener is the Principal Curator of Vertebrates at National Museums Scotland, where he is responsible for the care and development of the vertebrate collections. He is involved in a wide range of research, including the effects of captivity on endangered species, with a particular interest in environmental enrichment and skeletal pathologies. Andrew has had a long association with RZSS; he has been a member of the Animal Welfare and Ethics Group since 1992 and has been working in close collaboration with the WildGenes Lab on the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan and on establishing biobanks at RZSS and National Museums Scotland as part of CryoArks. Andrew is a member of the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission, the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, and the IUCN Equid Specialist Group, the Saving Wildcats Advisory Group and the Scottish Marine Animals Strandings Scheme Steering Group. He is Chair of the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and is an Honorary Fellow of RZSS.


Fiona Davis, BCom Hons – Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee

A chartered accountant by training with a degree in business studies and French from the University of Edinburgh, Fiona has held a variety of different senior finance roles, having been the Chief Financial Officer for various significant business groupings within RBS, including personal banking, wealth management, business and corporate banking.

Since retirement, Fiona has taken up a number of trustee roles, including vice chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society and director of Earlsferry Town Hall Ltd. Passionate about animals, Fiona was also honorary treasurer at the Scottish SPCA, retiring after her second term in 2021.

Fiona enjoys photography, choral singing, art, theatre, golf, reading, languages, organising charity events and cabinet making.