Adam Butler – Environmental statistician

I began my career by studying for a BSc in Statistics. I undertook two NERC-funded placements within the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology – one of these involved looking at trends in butterfly populations and this led me to become very interested in the applications of statistics to ecology and the environmental sciences. My PhD was concerned with developing new statistical methods that could be used to study trends in extreme sea levels. It also involved working closely with scientists at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory. After completing my PhD, I joined BioSS as an Environmental Statistician.

My role, which has developed a lot during the fourteen years that I have been working at BioSS, involves four main strands of work:

  • Policy-led projects: providing the statistical component of projects to improve the evidence base which underpins policy and decision making. Most of the projects that I work on of this kind are concerned with quantifying the impact of offshore wind farms upon seabirds. This is a key societal issue, given that seabirds are a key component of UK biodiversity and offshore renewables have a key role to play in climate change mitigation.
  • Consultancy: providing statistical advice and support to scientists within a range of environment-focused organisations (including the Royal Society for the Protection of Bird and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology)
  • Research: developing novel statistical methods that address key problems in the analysis of environmental data. Much of my research work is concerned with using statistical methods to evaluate flood risk.
  • Training: providing intensive one-day or two-day training courses on Basic Statistics or statistical software (R).

I enjoy the role a great deal. The ecologists and environmental scientists that I work with are generally very passionate about the impact of their work and very knowledgeable about their areas of expertise and I feel privileged to be able to help in ensuring that their work is effective and of high quality.

Take a look at our guide to becoming an environmental statistician.