Meet the Scientists
Tethys Research Institute;
University of Barcelona
Joan Gonzalvo, born in Barcelona, Spain, is a Catalan biologist whose main research interest is the conservation of the marine environment and, more specifically, the study and conservation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises). In 1999 he started his collaboration with the Tethys Research Institute, an Italian non-profit organization specializing in cetacean research founded in 1986, regularly participating in the research done in Greece. Since November 2007, he is member of Tethys' Board of Directors. Between 2000 and 2005, Joan was a member of GRUMM, a group for the study and conservation of marine mammals at the University of Barcelona, Spain. As a GRUMM collaborator, he was involved in a project funded by the Spanish Ministry for the Environment, focusing on the interactions between bottlenose dolphins and fisheries, and in another EU-funded project to assess bottlenose dolphin population size and conservation needs with the final goal of producing an Action Plan for the conservation of this species in the Balearic Islands. Joan has worked also as consultant of the UNEP's Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area (ACCOBAMS) for the preparation of Action Plans for the Conservation of Cetaceans in Syria and Lebanon. He is experienced in research methods including ship-based, land-based and aerial surveys on cetaceans, individual photo-identification, behavioural sampling, remote biopsy sampling, cetacean dissection techniques and tissue sampling on stranded animals, as well as on developing public awareness campaigns that address the threats faced by cetaceans in the Mediterranean and other marine conservation issues. Joan works as an Earthwatch scientist in western Greece, whilst working on a PhD. at the University of Barcelona. He leads the Dolphins of Greece project and is in charge of logistical aspects and coordinating Earthwatch volunteers. Joan has lived for several years in London, where he earned his Bachelor‘s Degree in Animal Biology. He can speak English, Catalan, Spanish, Italian and Greek.
Ioannis Giovos, born in Thessaloniki, Greece, is finishing his BSc in Marine Biology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with a thesis on non-destructive methods for fish stock assessment in a Marine Protected Area. He works as a research assistant with the Dolphins of Greece project in the context of an internship funded by the Erasmus Programme (a European Union student exchange initiative). His main interests include dolphin behaviour and conservation of marine ecosystems. Ioannis is an experienced swimmer and a scuba diver instructor. He speaks English, Greek, German and some Spanish.
Shotaro Nakagun, born in Tokyo, Japan, is studying Veterinary Medicine at Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine(Hokkaido), with an interest in the field of conservation medicine. He had his first experience in the Dolphins of Greece expedition in 2010 as a volunteer, and was greatly inspired and motivated by all the amazing works done here. Other than this expedition, Sho has had experience with the humpback whales and dugongs in the Philippines. He aims to expand his interests in the conservation of marine mammals and the marine environment, with regards to human interaction. On top of the works with marine mammals, he is currently doing research on some owl species in Hokkaido, trying to reveal their breeding ecology. Sho loves to go out into the field, and also holds a PADI Advanced Open Water license. He speaks English, Japanese and some Malay.
Francesca Fitzpatrick, born in London, UK, is on a gap year before starting a BSc/MSc course in Zoology at Sheffield University in autumn 2012. She intends to specialize in animal behavior and conservation. Fran volunteered on the Dolphins of Greece expedition in summer 2010 and has hoped to contribute further to the fantastic work done here ever since. She has recently returned from 10 weeks on a conservation project in Nosi Be, Madagascar, where she obtained PADI Advanced Open Water, Rescue and Coral Reef Conservationist qualifications. She spent five weeks surveying coral reefs and a further five conducting research on black lemurs as part of a tropical rainforest conservation project. Fran has also had work experience in the UK, in the Africa region at London Whipsnade Zoo, the entomology department of the Natural History Museum and the Genetics Research Laboratory at The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. On an expedition to Borneo in 2009 she spent a week replanting rainforest damaged by fire, as part of a community-based ecotourism initiative. Fran hopes eventually to conduct in-situ research on mammal behavior. She speaks English and some French and Italian.
Maria Rakka, from Greece, is a master’s student in marine biodiversity and conservation at the University of Algarve in Portugal. Her undergraduate thesis focused on fisheries and stock assessment and resulted in three publications in scientific journals and conference proceedings. Her interests include conservation of marine biodiversity and ecosystems and interactions between conservation activities and local communities. She is a PADI scuba diver instructor and has been teaching scuba diving for the last three years in Greece, Portugal, and in the Caribbean Sea. She speaks Greek, English, and Portuguese.