Dr Karen Purnell is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry with a PhD in Chemical Physics from Bristol. She joined ITOPF as a Technical Adviser in 1994 and, having found the perfect environment in which to combine her strong principles of science-based decision making, objectivity and service to the maritime community, she moved through the ranks, becoming Managing Director in 2009. During her career with ITOPF, Karen has attended several major oil spill incidents in many different countries including the SEA EMPRESS, in the UK in 1996, the PRESTIGE in Spain in 2002 and the TASMAN SPIRIT in Pakistan in 2003. She has contributed to several environmental damage assessment processes, including the COSCO BUSAN incident in the USA. Prominent amongst her achievements is the expansion of ITOPF's capability to respond to spills of HNS (Hazardous & Noxious Substances).
In her role as Managing Director her focus is to ensure that ITOPF is recognised as the leading provider of objective technical advice on accidental ship-source pollution through delivery of its five key services. She is also Chairman of ITOPF's Board of Pension Trustees.