Walthamstow Senior High School for Girls, London 1982-1986.


South Bank Polytechnic, London 1987-1991 (BSc Occupational Hygiene (Hons), then Kingston University, Surrey 1998-2000 (MSc Environmental Resource and Management).

Work History:

I worked for BP as a student for a year during my first degree. I then started work for the Royal Navy in 1991 as an Occupational Hygienist and moved to various posts until I requalified in environmental science in 2000. I then moved to my current post in 2003.


I work for the Chief Environmental and Safety Officer (Royal Navy) at the Navy’s Headquarters in Portsmouth.

Current Job:

I research, develop and write environmental management policy for the land estate of the Royal Navy.


Paula Gilfillan

bye to everyone and thanks for all the interesting questions!

Favourite Thing: I like educating people about how they can contribute to reducing their impact on the environment and watching their change in behaviour.

Me and my work

I research, develop and write environmental management policy for the land estate of the Royal Navy.

I am employed as a Scientific Officer for the Royal Navy, specialising in Environmental Science.   I look at Government Policy (and any environmental targets they set to reduce our environmental impact) and look for any new environmental law that affects the land (air, inland water and soil) that is being introduced.  I provide advice to all the Royal Navy’s Shore Establishments  ie the “land estate”.  These are places where we train our Service Personnel to fly helicopters, sail ships and gain other military skills before they go to sea or abroad.

I then assess how the Government policy/targets and law would impact on the Royal Navy’s Shore Establishments and then write the policy on how we should apply it to our work.  I also look at other ways we can work to minimise our environmental impact.  We then monitor how well we are doing in reducing our the impact of our activities on the environment.  Every year, I promote the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Environment Day for the Royal Navy with educational material that describes ways to minimise our environmental impact.

My Typical Day

Answering environmental questions, going to meetings and reviewing policy and legislation.

First thing, I reply to e-mails and telephone call queries from our Shore Establishments about recent changes to environmental law, MOD policy, RN policy, anything really to do with the environment for the land!  I may be asked to provide information on how well we are doing against the Government environmental targets.  Sometimes I could be called to a meeting with other Royal Navy departments or with the RAF or Army to discuss new ways of working that could reduce our environmental impact.  I could also be reviewing or writing our policy on how to take forward new Government policy and law that will reduce our environmental impact.  At the moment, I working on producing educational material for UNEP’s World Environment Day.


What I'd do with the money

I would donate it to a local community science project that promotes science within schools.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

friendly, curious and creative!

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Shed 7 (a 90’s Indie band from Sheffield).

What is the most fun thing you've done?

When I learnt to surf in Newquay, Cornwall.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

My daughter to do well at school, that I could eat as much chocolate as I like and the right wave would come along to go surfing again!

What did you want to be after you left school?

A scientist, of course!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Mainly for talking too much in class to my friends, I was a bit of a girly swot!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Presenting my findings from my MSc research at 2 International Science Conferences.

Tell us a joke.

What do you do with dead elements?…Barium!