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Meet our team

The YourTernProject is a multidisciplinary collaboration between scientists from the Netherlands and Namibia. On this page we introduce some of the key staff of the project team.


Ruben Fijn

Ruben (1981) is a seabird ecologist currently working for Bureau Waardenburg (NLD). His main professional research focus is on the ecology of terns, in particular the Sandwich Tern, in the North Sea. He studies the species via aerial and ship-based surveys, GPS loggers and colourrings. One of his personal passions is (the birdlife of) Southern African and in particular Southern Ocean seabirds.

In the YourTernProject he is responsible for project management, including project financing, and ecological fieldwork. He will also be part of the outreach team during the initiation phase. 

Jolanda Veldhuis

Jolanda (1979) works as an assistant professor in Communication Science at VU University Amsterdam (NLD). Her main research focus is on health and science communication in young adolescents, and one of her most recent projects focuses on the communication strategies behind anti-HIV/Aids campaigns worldwide. One of her great passions pertains to projects of high societal relevance with a particular interest in Southern Africa and has worked for the University of Namibia before. In the YourTernProject Jolanda will be responsible for the development and implementation of the outreach program including the supervision of (local) students in this part. 


Jean-Paul Roux

Jean-Paul (1956) has been working as an ecologist for the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources between 1987 and 2019. Presently he is involved in various coastal and marine conservation projects as an advisor to the Namibia Nature Foundation. He is one of the leading experts in the world on the ecology of the Benguela Upwelling zone and its inhabitants. One of his greatest passions is to increase the understanding of the seabirds and marine mammals of Namibia through scientific research and communication to the public.

Jean-Paul will be the fieldwork coordinator in the YourTernProject and locally responsible for stakeholder liaison and communication. 

Bas Engels

Bas (1991) is a Dutch bird ecologist (NLD) currently working on various applied scientific research projects, f.e. aerial surveys, (large) radar studies and webcam monitoring. In his spare time, he is an avid birder and bird migration observer. However, one of his other great passions is graphic design. He is the creator of, a website that provides lots of information and graphic illustrations of extinct animals that once roamed our planet. In the YourTernProject, he is responsible for all digital artwork in the outreach program, the website and ecological fieldwork.

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Mark Boorman

Mark Boorman (1952) lives in Swakopmund (NAM) and has been dedicating virtually all of his spare time the past decades to the study of terns and other seabirds on the Namibian coast. He is a keen bird ringer and ring reader of European terns in particular. At the moment he is heavily involved in a large conservation project on Lappet-faced Vultures in Namibia as well as smaller projects on larks and penguins. In the YourTernProject Mark is responsible for all field equipment such as nets, traps, rings, decoys, sound system, etc. He participates in most of the fieldwork as an experienced tern ringer and catcher. 

Hartmut Kolb

Hartmut Kolb (1963) lives in Swakopmund (NAM) and is an avid birder and bird ringer with a passion for bird surveys in the remote regions of Southern Africa. At the moment, he is involved in a large conservation project on vultures in Namibia as well as smaller projects on oxpeckers. As a professional tour guide for over 30 years, he has ultimate experience with driving in difficult terrain and knows virtually each corner of Namibia. In the YourTernProject Hartmut is a valued member of the ringing expeditions and colony surveys. 


Holger Kolberg

Holger’s (1963) father was one of the founding members of the Namibia Bird Club so he has been involved in birding for all his life. Holger is employed at the Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism since in February 1992. Holger’s responsibilities as Senior Conservation Scientist include coordination of the African Waterbird Census in Namibia, coordinating the bird mapping project (SABAP2) and bird ringing (SAFRING). Holger forms the link between MEFT and the YourTernProject. He will play an important role ensuring that the project delivers the right information for the Damara Tern Species Action Plan and will be part of the fieldwork team.

Elena Somers

Elena Somers (1995) studied Communication Studies at the VU Amsterdam and is the first MSc. student to graduate on a project as part of the YourTernProject. Her thesis was titled "Encouraging pro-environmental behavior through narrative persuasion in a comic strip" and involved an experimental study of effective communication strategies to promote conservation among young people in Namibia. Currently, she is responsible for the content on Facebook and supports in PR activities the project's website and other communication related work.


Expertise-team Nature Games

Since 2021, the YourTern Project started to work with various expertise-teams of young, ambitious Communication Studies students at the VU Amsterdam. Their input is invaluable for the development of the educational research material that will be used in the project. The expertise-team Nature Games is currently active under supervision of Jolanda Veldhuis and consists of Lily Bangma, Kimberly Colijn, Tessa Jansen and Sterre de Vooght. 

Rob van Bemmelen

Rob (1982) lives and breathes birds both professionally and personally. He currently works as a research ecologist for Bureau Waardenburg in the Netherlands with a focus on Sandwich Tern ecology and ecological modelling. He is an expert on skuas and phalaropes, which resulted in a PhD on the migration of Arctic and Long-tailed Skuas and Grey and Red-necked Phalaropes. Besides migration, he has a particular interest in moulting strategies in seabirds. In the YourTernProject Rob will be part of the fieldwork team and have an important role during the analysis and reporting phase. 

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