Meet the team!
We organise and a deliver a range of field trips and workshops for Pembrokeshire based pupils from Year 3 to Year 13. When not with school groups we can be found on the beach with family groups or at community events.
Meet the team
The Darwin Centre is a small team with two full time members of staff (a manager and a project officer), but we also have access to some awesome ad hoc guest presenters!
Name: Samantha Williams (Sam)
Time at the Darwin Centre: 15 years! (13 as an employee and 2 as a volunteer)
Academic background: Growing up in Pembrokeshire I loved the beach and all things marine related, I completed my degree in Marine Biology and Zoology at Bangor University, before that I went to Sir Thomas Picton secondary school and my primary school was Roch CP.
STEM interests: I love bioluminescence, cephalopods, sharks, coral reefs, plankton and of course seaweed!
Favourite animal: My favourite marine animal is probably the illusive Coelacanth – a phylogenetic relic and my favourite terrestrial animal is the African Elephant.
Hobbies: Chasing after my busy 3 year old boy, photography, gardening (not very well) and biological recording.
Favourite fact: Did you know that cephalopods (octopus, squid, cuttlefish & nautilus) have 3 hearts? Two hearts are responsible for the gills and one central heart pumps oxygenated blood to the rest of the body.
Name: Amy Belcher
Time at the Darwin Centre: 3 years
Academic background: I went to school in the North East of England where I grew up. After my A levels I studied Environmental Science at Manchester Metropolitan University. Since then I developed academic interests in marine and coastal ecology.
STEM interests: I love anything practical and investigative. Big lover of marine biology, especially rocky shore animals, seaweed and plankton.
Favourite animal: This is a challenge to decide. In the skies it would be the Gannet – the UK’s largest seabird. On the shore it would be any type on Cnidarian – the jellies and the anemones. I should also give cats a shout out or my pet Smudge would never forgive me.
Hobbies: Cooking, walking, snorkelling, trying to grow vegetables and skiing.
Favourite fact: Beadlet anemones are very territorial. The blue beads on their outer ring, called acrorhagi, contain special stinging cells for fighting other beadlet anemones.
Regular Guest Presenters
Name: Sid Howells (Geologist extraordinaire)
Time at the Darwin Centre: Over 20 years!
Academic background: 45 years practical experience as a professional geologist in industry, research, education (incl. university departments) and as Regional Earth Scientist for west Wales (with CCW>NRW, statutory advisors to Welsh Government)
STEM interests: geology, environmental sciences, conservation (biodiversity), civil engineering
Favourite animal: Dog
Hobbies: Kayaking, hill walking, motorcycling
Favourite Fact: The supercontinent Pangea began to break up around 200 million years ago, and a late stage in that process was the opening up, over the last 50 million years (by continuing formation of oceanic crust floor by magmatic spreading from the mid-Atlantic ridge), of the North Atlantic Ocean (c. 2,000miles wide between Britain and north-east America).
Mark Smith (King of the cosmos)
Time at the Darwin Centre: Working with Darwin since February 2013.
Academic background: Completed a four year, Electrical and Instrumentation Engineering indentured apprenticeship with Welsh Water Authority, then joined the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to work on Nuclear Fusion research. Degree and Postgraduate qualified Physicist and Astrophysicist, specialising in Nuclear Fusion Physics and Astrophysics. A Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS) and Fellow of the Royal Institution of Great Britain (FRi).
STEM interests: Nuclear Physics, in particular Thermonuclear Fusion Physics. Astrophysics, in particular:
• Black Holes,
• Supermassive Black Holes,
• Gravitational Waves from merging Black Holes,
• Neutron stars,
• Hubble Constant and the Expanding Universe,
• Dark Energy and Dark Matter,
• Galaxy Formation and Evolution,
• Computational Galaxy Formation,
• Time Domain and Gravitational Wave Astrophysics,
• Star Formation and Stellar Populations,
• Astronomical Instrumentation.
Favourite animal: Cat
Hobbies: Rugby Union, I played, refereed and was a referee advisor, helping produce the next generation of referees. I enjoy walking, reading (science fact), travelling, spending time with family and friends (generally being sociable).
Favourite Fact: One of the discoveries Albert Einstein announced in 1905 was his famous formula: E = m c2. He discovered that matter, the tiny particles that make up everything in the universe can be turned into energy. The equation, describes how this conversion can be achieved. In both nuclear fission and nuclear fusion reactions, the total masses after the reaction are less than those before. The “missing mass” appears as energy, with the amount given by: E = m c2
Name: Steve Smith (Coding guru)
Time at the Darwin Centre: 5 years
Academic background: Outdoor activity instructor and primary school teacher
STEM interests: Coding, lego, robotics and linking science to the arts
Favourite animal: Octopus
Hobbies: Surfing, kitesurfing, paddle boarding, listening to music & fiddling about with Lego & Scratch
Favourite Fact: The ocean is home to nearly 95% of all life
Contact us via this website or call +44 1437 753196 for details on our team.