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Worldwide congress brings snake expertise to Wolverhampton

A group of herpetologists looking at the camera

The University of Wolverhampton is hosting a high-profile worldwide congress at its £120 million Springfield Campus and the focus of the event will be reptiles and amphibians where it will welcome herpetologists from 26 nations across four continents. 

The 22nd European Congress of Herpetology will take place between 4-8 September 2023 in the University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment, part of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.  

Mark O’Shea MBE, Professor of Herpetology and his colleagues on the local organising committee, have been liaising with the Societas Europaea Herpetologica (SEH) and it is the first time the Congress will have been held in the UK since the First World Congress of Herpetology (WCH) in Canterbury, Kent, in 1989.   

Professor O’Shea said: “I personally remember the first WCH well, it was my first large, international conference, and I am sure others amongst the elder ranks of the SEH will remember it too. 

“The aim of the Congress is to bring together herpetologists, conservationists, policy-makers and other interested parties to advance and share our knowledge of amphibians and reptiles, their habitats, and their conservation requirements, primarily within Europe but also further afield, through three parallel sessions of talks and lectures, plenaries, workshops and poster sessions. “As anybody who has attended such events in the past will know, the oral and poster sessions are only part of a conference, the networking that takes place afterwards in various hostelries is of equal importance,  a chance to renew old friendships and make new ones, for students to approach potential sponsors and discover more about research possibilities, and for seasoned researchers to recruit new blood for their fieldwork or laboratory research projects. The conference is only open to registered delegates, it is not a walk-in event and there will be no live animals at the conference. 

“We have also organised a post-conference trip to Shrewsbury, birthplace of Charles Darwin, which we expect to be especially popular with our overseas visitors.” 

Professor O’Shea will be joined by other University of Wolverhampton herpetologists, Dr Natasha Kruger, Dr Deepak Veerappan, Rebecca Morris and Remi Martin, Dr Simon Maddock from the University of Newcastle, Dr John Wilkinson from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Alice Pawlik from the University of Exeter, and students from the University of Wolverhampton’s Animal Behaviour and Wildlife Conservation (ABWC) course. 

Mark O’Shea became Professor of Herpetology at the University of Wolverhampton in September 2018, the same year a new Asian pipesnake was described by German colleagues with the eponym Cylindrophis osheai, in his honour.  

He received an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the Queen's Birthday Honours in October 2020 but the award ceremony was delayed because of Covid. The award was for services to Higher Education, Zoology, Reptile Conservation and Snakebite Research. He finally received the award from Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, at an investiture at Windsor Castle on 30 November 2021.  

In October 2021 he won an award for "Outstanding Contribution to Research" in the University of Wolverhampton Vice-Chancellor's 10th Staff Excellence Awards. In June 2023 he won the "Lifetime Achievement Award" in the 2nd Annual University of Wolverhampton Alumni Association Awards. 

Find out more about degree courses in the Faculty of Science and Engineering or visit one of our forthcoming Open Days. 

Picture caption: Attached is a photo of the University of Wolverhampton team at the 21st European Congress of Herpetology in Belgrade, Serbia in 2022.

From left to right:

Dr Simon Maddock, senior lecturer in ABWC now moved to Newcastle University

Dr Natasha Kruger, senior lecturer in ABWC

Nicole Grimason, MSc student, now Phd student, ABWC

Stephanie Cartright, former MRes student in ABWC

Josh Darkin, final year student in ABWC

Aurora O’Brien, former MRes student in ABWC and winner of best student poster

Rémi Martin, Phd student in ABWC

Professor Mark O'Shea


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