As Executive Secretary, I have the responsibility for ensuring smooth working relationships between the Commission and the Trust, for managing the Secretariat, and for representing the ICZN and ITZN in any number of professional and public facing roles. I also ensure that the key work of the Commission is enabled through publication of the Cases, Comments and Opinions in the BZN, and strive to bring the Commission together for decision making. I work to support the Trust in its key tasks of raising funds and making business decisions for the ICZN. In addition, I have organised a number of meetings to showcase nomenclature to the public (e.g. Attenborough & Fortey, 2010) and to professional colleagues (e.g. Anchoring Biodiversity Information: 'The Sherborn Meeting', 2011).
I took on the role of Executive Secretary for ICZN in 2008 and have found it both challenging and rewarding, as this institution is at a critical transition point. The ICZN has historically provided foundations for good taxonomic practice in zoology by working as the main force in stabilizing nomenclature, yet it also holds responsibility for implementing modern methods in descriptive taxonomy. The role of the ICZN, along with the development of ZooBank, is increasingly important as cybertaxonomic tools are developed – stable, universal names are the pivotal link for information access on organisms. If the challenges for informatics retrieval, information input, and linkages with other major biodiversity informatics programmes are handled adeptly, this exciting programme will make a significant improvement in our ability to meet the taxonomic challenges of the biodiversity crisis.
My past experience includes a range of academic and research roles that provide a foundation for working with the ICZN. I am trained as a molluscan systematist and ecologist, with a focus on freshwater species radiations, both in neontological and palaeontological perspectives. I am experienced with analytical methods in molecular systematics, phylogenetic character analysis, morphometrics, experimental and quantitative ecology. My taxonomic speciality is primarily in malacology, but I have also worked on fish, crustaceans, sponges and bryozoans. For five years I was the acting field director and assistant project director for a US-NSF research training programme on tropical lakes, in addition to being the biology mentor (professor/lecturer) and part of the initiating team for the programme for a total of ten years. I have taught topics in evolution and ecology at the university level (both pre- and postgraduate) for many years and have considerable editorial experience. I am originally an American, but have been working in Europe for almost a decade and a half, first in the Netherlands, and now in London, with additional research links in Africa and Russia. Details of my academic history and experience are available on my website.