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The EMB Secretariat supports the day-to-day operations of the European Marine Board, and promotes the Board’s activities and outputs. The Secretariat staff members are based in Ostend, Belgium (contact). The team is periodically strengthened by interns.

   Sheila Heymans
   Executive Director

   Phone: +32 (0) 59 33 69 26

Sheila Heymans (PhD 1997) has a background in Zoology, marine ecosystem modelling and the environmental impacts of fisheries and ecosystem change. 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 working on food-web models of South African estuaries and the Northern Benguela ecosystem, before moving to the USA (University of Maryland) to complete a Post-Doctoral study at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (1999-2000) on the changes in the Everglades. She then moved to the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia where she was a research fellow (2000-2006) working on the Newfoundland fisheries and the decline of Steller sea lions before moving to Scotland. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology in the UK and has a publication record spanning the past 3 decades. Find Sheila on Google Scholar, ResearchGate, Linkedin and Twitter: @sheilaheymans


Jana Van Elslander
Executive and Finance Officer

Phone: +32 (0) 59 33 69 24

Jana Van Elslander joined the European Marine Board in 2021. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology at the HoWest University of Applied Sciences in Bruges, Belgium. Once graduated, she decided to go in a different direction. For the last few years she has worked as operations manager for an international fashion company where she handled sales, logistics and general operations.



Paula Kellett
Science Officer

Phone: +32 (0) 59 33 69 25

Paula Kellett (PhD 2014) joined the European Marine Board in 2016. She originally gained an Master of Engineering 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. As a Research Associate, she was also involved in a multi-disciplinary collaborative project between marine science and engineering related to underwater noise, as well as research into marine biofouling, energy efficiency and ship maneuvering. Find Paula on Google ScholarResearchGate and LinkedIn. Paula currently supports Navigating the Future VI working group, and leads on the EMB Young Ambassador Programme.


Ángel E. Muñiz Piniella
Science Officer

Phone: +32 (0)59 33 69 21

Ángel E. Muñiz Piniella obtained his marine science degree from the University of Vigo, Spain with specialization on biogeochemistry and marine pollution. He has, in addition, a Masters in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management with specialization 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). Find Ángel on ResearchGate and LinkedIn. Ángel currently supports the EuroSea Project, supports the EMBCP and EOOS, and leads on the organization of the EurOCEAN conference.


Britt Alexander
Science Officer

Phone: +32 (0)59 33 69 23

Brittany Alexander (PhD 2015) holds a BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Bristol, UK, a MSc in Biotechnology from McGill University, Canada, and a PhD in Marine Biology from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her PhD work explored the cellular mechanisms underlying the sponge loop pathway by which sponges recycle nutrients in the ocean, and has applications in advancing sustainable sponge aquaculture for biotechnology. After her PhD Britt worked at the Swiss-based publisher Frontiers (2016-2019) contributing to the development and management of the open-access journal Frontiers in Marine Science. Find Britt on LinkedIn, Twitter, and ResearchGate. Britt currently supports the Coastal Resilience and Marine Habitat Mapping working groups, and the BRIDGE-BS project, and leads on the EMBracing the Ocean Artist-in-Residence programme.


Ana Rodriguez Perez
Science Officer

Phone: +32 (0)59 33 69 22

Ana Rodriguez (PhD 2019) obtained a B.Sc. degree in Biology at the Eberhard-Karls University of Tübingen (Germany) and carried out her Bachelor’s thesis on coral reef ecology in the Red Sea in Egypt. Subsequently, she completed an international M.Sc. in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Ghent University (Belgium), Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (Ireland) and Anton-de-Kom University (Suriname). Her Master’s thesis analysed the potential of using fishery records and local ecological knowledge to inform a small-scale shrimp fishery in Suriname. For her joint PhD degree at Heriot-Watt University and University of St Andrews (UK), she studied larval behaviour, dispersal and recruitment of Ostrea edulis to inform oyster habitat restoration efforts across Europe. Ana has experience working on marine conservation topics at WWF as well as at the European Commission, where she spent one year as a trainee in the Nature Protection unit of DG Environment. Find Ana on ResearchGate and LinkedIn. Ana currently supports the Ocean Oxygen working group, and the EcoScope Project.


Konstantina Bairaktari

Konstantina Bairaktari obtained a B.Sc. degree in Biology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece) and carried out her bachelor thesis in the zoology and animal physiology domain. In 2021, she conducted an internship at the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation (Greece) within the Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Team where she gained experience on field data collection and focused on the investigation of the soundscape of the Aegean Sea. She is now in the second year of her MSc in Marine Biology at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands). Her first research project was focused on habitat suitability modelling for seagrass restoration in the Dutch Delta. Currently, she follows the Science, Business and Policy track and wis conducting an internship at the EMB Secretariat with the aim of learning to work on the science-policy interface and to provide science advice linked to the impact of large-scale offshore floating solar platforms on marine life and society.


Former Secretariat Members

Rebecca van den Brand (2021 - 2022) - Intern Junior Science Officer - Currently at the Council of the European Union, Fisheries Directorate

Joke Coopman (2017 - 2021) - Executive and Finance Officer - Currently at Buitengoed Oostende VZW, Belgium

Kate Larkin (2012 - 2018) - Senior Science Officer - Currently at EMODnet Secretariat and Seascape Belgium

Claudia Viegas (2018) - Intern Junior Science Officer - Currently at University of the Azores, Portugal

Christine Rundt (2018) - Intern Junior Science Officer - Currently at Seas at Risk

Charlotte Simon (2017) - Intern Junior Science Officer - Currently at Natagora, Belgium

Niall McDonough (2009 - 2017) - Executive Director - Currently at Marine Institute, Ireland

Karen Donaldson (2015 - 2017) - Scientific Administrator - Currently at Environment and Climate Change, Canada

Audrey Legat (2014) - Intern Junior Science Officer - Currently at Deltares, Netherlands

Veronica French (2014 - 2016) - Science Officer - Currently at Marine Institute, Ireland

Nan-Chin Chu (2012 - 2016) - Science Officer - Currently at Ifremer, France

Dina Eparkhina (2006 - 2015) - Administration and Coordination Officer - Currently at EuroGOOS Secretariat

Doris Abele (2013 - 2014) - 6-month secondment - Was at Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany

Noemie Wouters (2014 - 2015) - Currently at GreenBridge, Belgium

Jan-Bart Calewaert (2007 – 2013) - Science Officer - Currently at EMODnet Secretariat and Seascape Belgium

Maud Evrard (2006 - 2012) - Science Officer - Currently at European Association of Innovation Consultants AISBL

Aurelien Carbonniere (2004 - 2011) - Science Officer - Currently at CNES - French National Centre for Space Studies

Niamh Connolly (2002 - 2009) - Executive Director - Currently at University College Cork, Ireland

Nicolas Walter (2002 – 2007) - Science Officer - Currently at European Science Foundation

Laurent d'Ozouville (1994 - 2001) - Executive Director