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The strategic and operational decisions and activities proposed by the Board and ExCom are implemented by the Secretariat. The Secretariat works to support day-to-day operations of the EMB, advance EMB objectives and promote the Board’s activities and outputs. Based at the EMB offices in Ostend, the Secretariat is comprised of five staff members under the management of the Executive Director, who is the head of the Secretariat and an ex officio member of the ExCom.


Sheila Heymans
Executive Director

Phone: +32 (0) 59 34 01 53


Sheila Heymans (PhD 1997) has a background in ecosystem modelling. She joined the European Marine Board from the Scottish Association for Marine Science where she was the Head of the Science Department (2007-2017). She became Professor in Ecosystem Modelling at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) in 2017. She obtained her degrees from the University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela University) in South Africa before moving to the USA (University of Maryland) to complete a Post-Doctoral study at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (1999-2000). She then moved to the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia where the was a research fellow (2000-2006).  Sheila is involved with the Marine Ecosystem Modelling Working Group as co-chair and will lead Navigating the Future V.

Kate Larkin
Senior Science Officer

Phone: +32 (0) 59 34 01 56

Kate Larkin (PhD 2006) has a multidisciplinary background, gaining a degree in Natural Sciences (University of Birmingham, UK) before training as a marine biogeochemist at the University of Southampton, UK. She continued her scientific research at the National Oceanography Centre, UK with research interests including benthic carbon cycling and ocean time-series. She later held project management roles for National and European ocean observation projects. As Deputy Head of the EMB Secretariat, Kate provides management support to the Executive Director on all aspects of the EMB work programme. Kate has worked on EMB activities spanning Deep-Sea Research and Marine Graduate Training to strengthening science-policy interfaces for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. She also provides leadership in areas of marine research infrastructures and ocean observation systems, including the developing European Ocean Observing System. 

Joke Coopman
Executive and Finance Officer

Phone: +32 (0) 59 34 01 63

Joke Coopman joined the European Marine Board in January 2017. She holds a Masters in Economic Sciences from Ghent University and an Advanced Masters in International Relations and Diplomacy from the University of Antwerp. She has worked several years as a policy advisor on energy security and implementation of EU energy directives for the Belgian Energy Administration. Before joining EMB, she worked as a financial analyst for a major energy utility company. As Scientific Administrator Joke coordinates a number of core Secretariat activities and day-to-day Secretariat operations.

Paula Kellett
Science Officer

Phone: +32 (0) 59 34 01 54

Paula Kellett (PhD 2014) joined the European Marine Board in 2016. She originally gained an MEng degree in Naval Architecture and Small Craft Engineering from University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Her PhD research, also carried out at University of Strathclyde, focused on the underwater noise emitted by ships, its impact on marine life and potential means of control. She was also involved in a collaborative project between marine science and engineering related to underwater noise, as well as research into marine biofouling, energy efficiency and ship maneuvering. As Science Officer, Paula is involved in WG Citizen Science and the University Consortium Panel, as well as other activities in science-policy interface and research facilitation.

Ángel E. Muñiz Piniella
Science Officer

Phone: +32 (0)59 34 01 70

Ángel E. Muñiz Piniella obtained his marine science degree from the University of Vigo, Spain with specialisation on biogeochemistry and marine pollution. He has, in addition, a Masters in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management with specialisation on environmental impacts and remediation from the Free University of Brussels, University of Ghent and University of Antwerp in Belgium. After conducting an internship at EMB in 2012, he has held positions at the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), the Research Council of Norway (RCN) and the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO), as member of the secretariats of the Joint Programing Initiatives on Oceans (JPI Oceans) and Climate Knowledge (JPI Climate). As Science Officer, he is involved in EOOS and the EMB Communications Panel and the Working Group on biological ocean observations.