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William Kay

Dr William Kay

Lecturer in Statistics

School of Biosciences

+44 29208 75384
Sir Martin Evans Building, Room W1.15, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Welsh speaking
Available for postgraduate supervision



Biological: My biological research interests lie in quantifying the drivers of individual- and population-level animal movement, behaviour and energetics to predict the impact of anthropogenic disturbance and environmental change on animals. In particular, I have always been fascinated by marine megafauna. I am also interested in the development of develop new tools and methods to study this, and thus to derive recommendations for policy and conservation management. 

Pedagogic: My main area of focus in terms of pedagogic scholarship and research is in the concept of "Statistics Anxiety", and mitigating and combatting this for our students. More broadly I am interested in what makes for an effective learning environment for learning statistics, including determining the effectiveness of statistics support through drop-in Data Clinics. I am also interested in how we build a sense of community among students and staff.


Teaching is both my greatest passion and my forte. I find teaching to be the most rewarding thing that I do and something that comes naturally to me. I particularly enjoy the challenge of teaching data analysis and statistics; subjects that many students find intimidating. I also teach aspects of ecology and marine biology. I am a Fellow of Advance HE (FHEA).


Outside of academic life I am a Commercial RYA Skipper with 5 year’s experience as a lifeboat crewman (RNLI & SARA) and a Commercial HSE SCUBA Diver. I also teach these skills as both an RYA Powerboating Instructor and BSAC Open Water Instructor. I am interested in politics and policymaking, and my hobbies include cycling and watersports. I live a vegan lifestyle for the sake of all animals and the environment. Rwy'n dysgu siarad Cymraeg.


  • Lecturer in Statistics
  • Biological Sciences Degree Scheme Coordinator
  • Deputy for MSc in Global Ecology and Conservation







Biological Research

My ecological research interests lie in quantifying the drivers of individual- and population-level animal movement, behaviour, and energetics in order to predict the impact of anthropogenic disturbance and environmental change on animals and thus to derive recommendations for policy and conservation management. I have focused in particular on the study of marine megafauna but I am keen to apply my research across all taxa. My most recent work (towards my PhD thesis) has examined the movements and behaviour of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) and harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) in tidal stream environments, and their potential interactions with marine renewable energy developments. In previous work I have investigated the foraging ecology of magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) and imperial cormorants (Leucocarbo atriceps), and the diving behaviour of harbour seals. In addition to tagging seals and seabirds, I have experience deploying biologging devices on terrestrial vertebrates, including the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus​) and the Galápagos tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra).

I am also interested in developing new tools and methods for movement ecology – for example, my research has investigated how biologging equipment can be useful most effectively and appropriately to collect data on wild animals whilst minimizing its impact. I have also applied advanced analytical models in novel ways to analyse data collected from these devices, as well as to maximise the utility of historical datasets.

Pedagogic and Educational Research

I am keen to broaden my research experience into pedagogic and educational research. In particular, my research interests in this are understanding the efficacy of teaching techniques and the drivers of positive student motivation, confidence, attainment, satisfaction, and retention. I am also interested in the development of learning communities and what makes a good learning environment for learning statistics and data analysis.


I enjoy working collaboratively and across disciplines and have been involved in several interdisciplinary projects involving computer scientists, mathematicians, physicists, and engineers. I am always keen to build collaborations – please get in touch if you would like to work together or find out more about my research. 



I am a Fellow of Advance HE (FHEA).

My teaching and tutoring interests comprise four broad categories:


Experimental design, data analysis and visualisation, and statistics; from descriptive statistics through basic hypothesis testing and on to advanced modelling techniques such as generalised linear modelling, mixed effects models, generalised additive models, and hidden Markov models (HMMs).

Movement Ecology

Teaching and providing supervision and tutoring in movement ecology; including the design and deployment of animal tracking devices, the techniques used to analyse the data obtained and the ecological inferences that can be drawn.

Marine Field Skills

SCUBA diving and powerboating, chartwork and navigation, intertidal sampling, marine taxonomic ID skills, marine mammal and seabird survey techniques.

Employability Skills

CVs, cover letters, job applications, interview techniques, scientific presentations and posters, social media and networking, and website design.



  • Data Handling and Statistics (BIT010)
  • Assessing Biodiversity and Ecosystems (BIT052)
  • Field Skills for Ecology and Conservation (BIT050)
  • Data Science (BIT053)
  • Research Project (BIT054)
  • Field Research and Placement (BIT055)
  • SWBiosciences Doctoral Training Partnership
  • Maths Support Service (MS0100)


  • Skills for Science (BI1001)
  • Structure and Function of Living Organisms (BI1002)
  • Organisms and Environment (BI1003)
  • The Dynamic Cell (BI1004)
  • Biological Chemistry (BI1014)
  • Genetics and Evolution (BI1051)
  • Biosciences Year 1 Core (BI1XXX)
  • Ecology Part A (BI2135)
  • Ecology Part B (BI2136)
  • Biosciences Year 2 Core (BI2XXX)
  • Bioscience Final Year Project (BI3001)



  • 2016–2020: PhD in Movement Ecology (Swansea University)
  • 2013–2015: MSc (Res) Animal Movement Science (Swansea University)
  • 2010–2013: BSc (Hons) Marine Biology (Swansea University)

Professional Experience

  • Jul 2021–present: Tutor in Data Analysis and Statistics (Cardiff University)
  • Jul 2020–Jul 2021: Research Technician, Seagrass Ocean Rescue (Swansea University)
  • Dec 2019–Jul 2020: Grant Development Officer, Seagrass Ocean Rescue (Swansea University)
  • Jun 2019–Dec 2019: Research Assistant, SEACAMS2 (Swansea University)
  • Jan 2019–Jun 2019: Lecturer in Marine Ecology (Swansea University)
  • Oct 2017–Jul 2018: Tutorial Assistant (Swansea University)
  • Apr 2017–Oct 2017: Science Policy Intern (The Royal Society)
  • Oct 2015–Jul 2016: Teaching Assistant (Swansea University)
  • Sep 2013–Jan 2021: Student Demonstrator (Swansea University)

Honours and awards

  • SMM Student Travel Grant 2021
  • The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales (WLCoW) Travel Scholarship
  • UKIRSC Annual Student Travel Grant (2016-2020)
  • ​Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) Student Travel Grant
  • Conference Grant to host UKIRSC XIII 13th Annual Conference at Swansea University
  • Best Oral Presentation Prize – Wales Ecology and Evolution Network Annual Conference (WEEN 2018)
  • Honorary Lifetime Membership - Swansea University Students’ Union
  • KESS II Training and Travel Grant (2016, 2017, 2018)
  • ​Best Poster Prize – BES Movement Ecology SIG Annual Meeting 2018
  • Third Place Poster Prize – Swansea University PGR Poster Competition (2016, 2018)
  • ​Best Short Oral Presentation – European Cetacean Society (ECS) 32nd Annual Conference
  • ​​European Cetacean Society (ECS) ​Travel Grant
  • Ede and Ravenscroft Anniversary Student Prize 2016/17 for Outstanding Contribution
  • ​Third Place Prize – Swansea University Research Institute of Ethics and Law (RIEL)
  • Poster Prize Finalist –  Swansea University PGR Poster Competition 2017

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales (WLCoW)
  • Member of the British Ecological Society (BES)
  • Member of the Royal Society of Biology (RSB)
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)
  • Member of the International Bio-logging Society (IBiolS)
  • Member of the European Cetacean Society (ECS)
  • Member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM)
  • Member of the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC)
  • Accredited Member of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA)
  • Member of British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR)
  • Affiliate of Swansea University
  • Honorary Lifetime Member of Swansea University Students' Union (SUSU)

Committees and reviewing

Journal Reviewer:

  • PLOS One

Committee Membership:

  • Early Career Member of the BES Education and Careers Committee
  • Communications and Online Resources Representative for the BES Movement Ecology Special Interest Group
  • Early Career Member of the BES Wales Policy Group
  • Member of the Oxford University Press Bioscience Student Panel
  • Ecological Ambassador of the British Ecological Society
  • Member Representative of the British Ecological Society


I am interested in supervising students in the areas of:

  • Animal movement
  • Animal behaviour
  • Dispersal ecology
  • Pinniped ecology
  • Statistics anxiety
  • Statistics support

Previous students:

  • Co-supervisor for Neeru, School of Mathematics, Cardiff University. MSc Project: Investigating the effect of statistics support clinics format on attendance rates - the impact of hybrid learning. 2022
  • Co-supervisor for Guoyi Jia, School of Mathematics, Cardiff University. MSc Project: Investigating group dynamics in the attendance of statistics support clinics. 2022
  • Co-supervisor for Roushan Kumar, School of Mathematics, Cardiff University. MSc Project: Are statistics support services attended equally among students? 2022


Media and Press

  • Making Tags Less of a Drag: Optimising Biologging Devices with Computational Fluid Dynamics,, 10 September 2019. URL:
  • A day in the life of a PhD Candidate, NewScientist Jobs on behalf of the British Ecological Society, 29 June 2019. URL:
  • Dynamic collaboration behind new research into best way of using biologging tags, Swansea University Press, 20 June 2019. URL:
  • Wiliam Kay, Careers Q & A, The Niche.
  • Streamlining Biologging Technology, Animal Ecology in Focus, 11 Sept 2018. URL:
  • Bridging the science-policy interface in Wales. The British Ecological Society, 20 Nov 2017. URL:
  • Influencing policy: A researcher's perspective, AuthourServices Taylor and Francis Group, 14 Nov 2017. URL:
  • #iamabiologist: Using Twitter to bring those working in the biosciences together, The Royal Society of Biology, 26 Oct 2017. URL:
  • Swansea University’s KESS 2 scholar William Kay joins the Royal Society of Biology stand at the 2017 ‘New Scientist Live’ event. KESS2, 25 Oct 2017. URL:
  • How does tracking animals help protect them from human impact? The Royal Society of Biology via YouTube, 10 Oct 2017. URL:
  • 2017 MRSB Recipients - William Kay RSB Report, Selected Reports, The Royal Society of Biology, 1 Sept 2017. URL:
  • Marley, S. (2017) Marine mammal conservation in the light of marine spatial use, Animal Ecology in Focus: Journal of Animal Ecology, 1 June 2017. URL:
  • Kay, W. P. (2017) Dr Nathan Griffiths: Driverless cars? How the road to the future will be driven by machine learning, The Royal Society In Verba Blog, 24 April 2017. URL:
  • Montanari, M. (2017) Can we develop with nature in mind? Sea Watch Foundation, 16 February 2017. URL:
  • DARO (2016) Patagonia, pengwiniaid ac ymchwil arloesol: Biolegydd y Môr, William Kay, yn parhau i ddringo ei ffordd i fyny’r ysgol ymchwil yn llwyddiannus, 5 July 2016. URL:
  • Pickwick, J. (2016) Patagonia, penguins, and pioneering research: Tracking marine biologist William Kay continues his successful ascent up the research ladder, 27 Jan 2016. URL:
  • Swansea University (2016) Patagonia, penguins and pioneering research, Swansea Student Success Archives, 26 January 2016. URL:
  • Kay, W. P. (2014) Taking Control: The undeserved bend. SCUBA, September Issue 2014.
  • Swansea University (2014) Swansea University graduate Will Kay talks about his experiences at Swansea, 25 February 2014. URL:
  • Ratcliffe, A. (2013) Graduation success for Biosciences student Will Kay, 15 July 2013. URL:
  • Swansea University (2013) William Kay, BSc Marine Biology (First Class) - Swansea University Summer Graduation 2013, 15 July 2013. URL:
  • Powell, A. (2013) Kay reveals the hidden gem of Sport Swansea, The Waterfront, 11 March 2013. URL:
  • Phillips, L. (2013) Zahid Raja Sweeps To Victory In Elections, The Waterfront, 11 March 2013. URL:
  • Byrne, K. (2013) Research trip was once in a lifetime opportunity, The Waterfront, 25 Feb 2013. URL:
  • Jones, N. (2012) Marine Biology student gets unique work placement, 25 October 2012. URL:
  • Swansea University (2012) William Kay, Marine Biology, 20 March 2012. URL:

Research themes


  • Statistics
  • Ecology
  • Movement Ecology
  • Statistics Anxiety
  • Marine Ecology