Staff profile

Debbie Alston

Lecturer in Biodiversity

Deb crouching amongst some bluebells and overgrown grass


Biology and Zoology


College of Science and Engineering


School of Built and Natural Environment

Research centre

Environmental Sustainability Research Centre


Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I am a part-time Lecturer on our undergraduate Biology, Zoology, Environmental Sustainability and Joint Honours programmes and also on our MSc Conservation Biology and MSc Environmental Assessment and Control programmes.

Prior to teaching at the University I worked in ecology and conservation management for more than 20 years and I regularly bring that knowledge, case studies and contacts into my teaching.

Teaching responsibilities

I am the Module Leader for the following modules:

I teach on the following modules across our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes: Evolution of Life, Ecology, Biodiversity, Global Environmental Issues, Research Methods, Vertebrate Biology, Field Biology, Habitat Management, Ecological Consultancy, Environmental Management, Identification for Conservation Biology, Ecological Surveying, Conservation Biology in Principle and Practice, and our MSc Practical Training-Based Placement Module.

I also supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations and am an advisory team member for a couple of our PhD students.

I have a passion for species identification and so in addition to my formal teaching, I run Wildlife I-Spy, an extra curricula activity for our students to improve their confidence in identifying British species of wildlife.

Professional interests

With my industrial background, I am keen to build links with conservation and ecological organisations for both research and student employablity.

Research interests

My research areas are many and varied, which reflect my career and external interests. My current research interests include:

Membership of professional bodies

I am a full member of CIEEM (Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management), the (BES) British Ecological Society and I gained Fellowship of the Advanced HE in April 2020.

I am also a member of the Mammal Society, Bat Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Botanical Society for Britain and Ireland and numerous local conservation organisations.


Recent conferences

2021 - University of Derby's Festival of Learning

I Spy with my little eye a blended learning model for outdoor extra curricula activties

2021 - Mammal Society Spring Conference

Lessons learnt from student projects studying small mammals

2018 - BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting

What is the current status of Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum) in the Peak District?

2018 - ESRC University of Derby Conference

What is the current and possible future status of Derbyshire's County Plant? 

2016 - Mammal Society Spring Conference

The Derbyshire Mammal Atlas

2015 - National Federation of Biological Recording

Plotting to Publish (The trials and tribulations of compiling a County Mammal Atlas)

Experience in industry

I have worked in ecology and conservation management for more than 20 years (the majority of which has been in Derbyshire) and I use this experience frequently in my teaching.

My past jobs have included working for local authorities, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the Open University. I have also taught ecology and species identification courses for the Mammal Society, CIEEM, Field Studies Coumcil, Worker's Education Association and Derbyshire County Council and many other smaller and local organisatons as a freelance tutor.

Additional interests and activities

Outside of my University role, I am the County Recorder for the Derbyshire Mammal Group, and Chair of the Mammal Society's Training Committee and am also a Trustee and sit on the Council for the Mammal Society.

I also teach courses for the Mammal Society, Field Studies Council and local Wildlife Trusts and am an Associate Tutor for Manchester Metropolitan University on a Land Mammal Identificaton residential course run at Preston Montford FSC centre every year.

I am the External Examiner for the MSc Species Identification and Survey Skills at the University of Reading (2021 - 2026)

I was the External Examiner on the FdBSc and BSc Animal Conservation and Biodiversity courses at Hadlow College (accredited by the University of Greenwich) between 2017-2021.

Recent publications