Thursday 9th March: Maria Lopez Vera – Air Quality Consultant
Today’s profile is on Maria Lopez Vera, Air Quality Consultant at REC in Winchester. Based in REC’s Winchester office, Maria is originally from Spain and relocated to the UK to complete her MSc in Resource and Environmental Management at the University of Lancaster. With a passion for travel and new languages, Maria is thoroughly enjoying her time in the UK, having met a wide variety of people and discovered many new cultures. After completing her masters in environmental sciences
What’s involved in your role as as Air Quality Consultant?
REC is a great place to learn and I have been involved in lots of projects; both for Air Quality and bigger, multi-disciplinary schemes. We prepare Air Quality Assessments for a variety of sectors including the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, and also carry out Odour, Lighting and Environmental Impact Assessments. My job requires good communication both internally and externally, and is technically challenging, overseeing dispersion model building, reporting, plotting figures, data collection and monitoring. The work is extremely varied – there’s certainly never a dull day!
What would you say your greatest achievement to date is?
With Spanish as my first language, my greatest achievement would have to be moving to Britain. I have showed myself that I am capable of studying and working abroad whilst speaking another language – and I’m really proud of that.
If you could have dinner with an inspirational female icon, who would it be & why?
I would have loved to have had dinner and a long conversation with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I think her dedication to those less fortunate was without limit and she is recognised for her contributions to humanity, globally. From my point of view, there is nothing better than giving love and dedication to people without looking for anything in return.
Monday 6th March: Manchester Ecology Team
Today’s profile starts at home in REC’s headquarters; delving into the lives of our all-female Ecology team in Manchester. Led by Senior Consultant, Olivia Winter, and supported by consultants Katie Bird and Celia Barlow, we hear about some of their greatest achievements to date, and what International Women’s day means for them.
Olivia Winter: Olivia is a Senior Ecological Consultant at REC. A first class graduate from Northumbria University and leads the Manchester Ecology team. Recently engaged, Olivia is shattering the boundaries of female stereotypes, training for Bolton’s Strongest Woman in July and aiming for Gold.
Katie Bird: Straight out of Bangor University, Katie overcame lots of competition to attain her first Graduate Ecologist post at REC only last May. Having worked in various jobs since she was 14, Katie is a great example of how dedication and commitment pays off; being promoted to Ecological Consultant in less than 10 months. Originally from Wigan, Katie says she spends most of her time ‘eating and watching movies’ (don’t we all?!).
Celia Barlow: Hailing from the outskirts of Stockport, Celia is the Ecology team’s latest recruit. With a degree in Biology and a particular interest in reptiles and amphibians, Celia recently travelled to India and is vice-captain of the women’s lacrosse team for Norbury.
How did you all get into Ecology?
C: I grew up near to Lyme Park, which is part of the national trust. Interested in wildlife from a young age, I knew then that I wanted to be an Ecologist then – now I get do my favourite past time for a living.
K: After undertaking a two month internship at REC across all departments, I enjoyed Ecology the most, by far. Gaining priceless experience working alongside Olivia, I knew then that the role was for me.
What does International Women’s Day mean for you?
O: International Women’s Day for me means continuing to challenge stereotypes, pushing boundaries and celebrating achievement. In many parts of the world, opportunities for women are still limited, so it’s important that we applaud female achievement throughout the workplace.
How does it feel to be part of an all-female team?
C: It is an enjoyable working environment and a first in my career so far!
K: It is amazing to be part of such a highly respected all-female Ecology team and I hope that we can provide inspiration to other young women looking to pursue careers in Ecology too.
If you could have dinner with an inspirational female icon, who would it be?
K: Diana Ross – inspirational diva and superstar at the age of 73.
C: Rosie Woodroffe (listed on 2015’s BBC Wildlife “Power List”, she has recently carried out a lot of research into badgers and the spread of TB).
O: Donna Moore –2016 World’s Strongest Woman and is based in the UK. Strength sports remain male dominated, with many people thinking that girls shouldn’t have muscles. Women like Donna pave the way for women to lift, being an inspiration to us all and demonstrating that we can do just about anything we put our minds too.
What would you say your greatest achievement to date is?
C: Carrying out my MSc in Wildlife Conservation. Here I undertook my research dissertation on survey methods of reptiles and amphibians in the Peruvian Amazon. Whilst carrying this research out and working with NGO Fauna Forever, I recorded 99 species of reptiles and amphibians using multiple survey methods.
K: Gaining a first class honours in environmental management undergraduate masters whilst facing my difficulties with dyslexia.
O: I was nominated for the Women in Construction Rising Star Award 2017, which encapsulates what I am proud of most. Less than 2 years out of university and I have progressed from a graduate to a senior consultant leading the Manchester team. I have faced many challenges along the way and this award has taught me not to give up!
To find out more about International Women’s Day and the 2017 campaign, click through to their website here.
Thanks to REC’s Ecology Manchester team for helping with this article. If you want to get in touch with an Ecologist or need any advice for ecological considerations on a development site, email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring us on
0845 676 9303