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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.

Dr Karen Blackport, PhD MBA – Chair of the Engagement and Community Advisory Group

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.

She 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.

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 – Honorary Fellow and 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 MacEachern, BSc, BVMS, PhD, Cert  EM (Int Med), MRCVS – Chair of the Animal Welfare Advisory Group

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 – BSc(Hons), MSc – Board Member

Katie is a recent Masters graduate specialising in animal welfare, ethics and law. She is published for her work in the development of positive welfare indicators for lab animals and has years of experience as a volunteer working on various farms, businesses and animal charities. Katie lives in Glasgow and loves exploring the hills and lochs of Scotland using her knowledge from her time working at an outdoor centre. She also has a passion for art and enjoys selling her handmade animal related crafts at events around the UK.

Dr Andrew Kitchener – Chair of the Conservation Advisory group, an Honorary Fellow and Board Member

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.

He 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 – Board Member - Chair of the Finance, Audit and Risk Management 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.

Simon Corcoran - Board Member

Simon graduated with a BA Hons in Business and Technology (First Class) from the University of Northumbria.

After University, he moved to Scotland, and embarked upon a career in technology, in Financial Services. Since 1996, he has undertaken several cyber-security, technical, and leadership roles. He ran technology service delivery for a global bank, and has a deep appreciation as to how technology supports the objectives & aspirations of its stakeholders (including customers, colleagues & regulators).

Simon has delivered multiple major change programmes, and has extensive experience working with global technology suppliers.

Having worked in multiple financial services organisations, in his current role, he is responsible for all collaboration and communication platforms that serve the colleagues & customers of a major UK bank.

He continued his professional development, with an MSc in Strategic Information Systems (from Strathclyde University), and an accreditation in Climate Change Transformation (from Edinburgh University).

Outside work, he’s a neighbour and member of RZSS, and spend lots of time outside, walking & cycling with his wife and two daughters.

Professor Anna Meredith OBE MA VetMB PhD CertLAS DZooMed DipECZM FRCVS - Board Member

Anna is Professor of Zoological and Conservation Medicine at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and was previously RZSS’s Head Veterinary Surgeon. She is a specialist in wildlife population health and has over 30 years clinical, teaching and research experience in zoo and wildlife medicine.  

She has a wide range of board and governance experience including as previous chair of the UK Government’s Zoos Expert Committee, member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council, and Trustee of the Zoological Society of London and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. She is currently a member of the UK Government’s Animal Sentience Committee.

Anna has involvement in many Scottish conservation projects including red squirrels, wildcats and golden eagles, as well as several international conservation partnerships. From 2018-2022 she moved to Australia as Head of Melbourne University’s Veterinary School, and was a Board member of Wildlife Health Australia and Zoos Victoria. Anna will be taking up a new role as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Keele University from January 2024, but will continue to live in the Scottish Borders.

John Denerley, DipSW - Board Member

John is a qualified social worker who obtained a social work diploma from Manchester Metropolitan University. He possesses strong management skills, having developed valuable organisational competencies, effective communication, and problem-solving throughout his career.

As an elected member - Councillor for Dumfries and Galloway Council, he actively contributes to shaping policies and strategies that reflect the needs and priorities of his local ward. He has also been actively involved in various tourism-related activities and has taken up numerous trustee roles at both the local and national levels, supporting community-led projects that promote inclusivity and unity among diverse backgrounds. 

John's passion for natural history has remained a driving force throughout his life. As a conservationist with a profound understanding of wildlife management, John has been a fellow Zoological Society of London member for over two decades, and a member of RZSS since 2002. He has extensive knowledge of the conservation of wild animals in zoos and the wild, including in-situ conservation and captive breeding.

In governance, John has served on panels, advisory boards, and as a charity trustee. With this set of skills and experience, it is a privilege for him to work with others to strengthen the voice of conservation on the RZSS Board of Trustees and continue to build RZSS’ long-standing and strong reputation, while embracing the principles of equality, diversity, and inclusion.