MPhil in Conservation Leadership
Biographical Sketches for the MPhil in Conservation Leadership students 2016-2017
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Cigdem Adem (Turkey)
I am named after the Crocus plant and I always love being in nature. I hold a BSc in Economics from the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey. During my undergraduate studies, I founded the METU Nature Club with like-minded friends. After completing an MSc in Sociology at METU, I worked on various exciting nature conservation projects in Turkey, in which the longest period was as a Community Outreach Expert in Artvin, Camili. This Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management Project was funded by the GEF and was run by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. I led the participatory process to negotiate the management plan with the local people and stakeholders. Camili was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and I played an active role in the application. I also worked at the European Environment Agency, based in Denmark, and focussed mainly on lay, local and traditional knowledge systems and citizen science. I enjoyed forming a citizen science network, publishing a citizen science newsletter and empowering citizen scientists. I am a member of the IPBES Task Force on Indigenous and Local Knowledge Systems and I conducted interviews with citizen scientists for the newsletter of the Citizen Science Association. I am excited about working for democratization of knowledge, information, processes and for the conservation of nature.
David Amaning Kwarteng (Ghana)
I am a passionate conservationist. Since childhood, I have only desired to see a world in which communities live in harmony with biodiversity. This fuelled my decision to study for a BSc in Natural Resources Management, specializing in Wildlife and Range Management, followed by a Masters in Natural Resources, Sustainable Environmental Management, at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. During my undergraduate studies, I volunteered for many projects with different environmental NGOs in Ghana. Notable amongst these was the Climate Stewards Project. In 2010, I co-founded Herp Conservation Ghana to spearhead the Conservation of imperiled biodiversity, especially amphibians and reptiles and their specialized habitats. Currently, I coordinate Herp Ghana's annual capacity building program, 'Ecology Field School', building the knowledge base of the next crop of conservation leaders in Ghana. I also undertake several community engagement, climate change adaptation, and biodiversity conservation projects, whilst driving forward policies to ensure sustainable management of Ghana's natural resources.
Isa Gedi (Kenya)
My life started from very humble beginnings in rural north-eastern Kenya. I gained a BSc in Community Resource Management from Kenyatta University in 2012. I then worked as a founding community liaison officer in the now famous Ishqbini Hirola Community Conservancy, before taking up my present role as a Senior Conservancies Development Officer for Northern Rangelands Trust-Coast Unit.My responsibilities included leading a wide and varied range of conservation and community development themes, including developing and implementing strategy, community-based fisheries management, inter-tribal conflict and peace resolution, institutional governance, rangeland management, development of management plans, enterprise development, securing operational funds and overseeing strong financial management.These roles and responsibilities have given me the opportunity to influence the development of seven community conservancies in the NRT-Coast Unit. The highlight of my conservation career to date occurred in 2012 when I was heavily involved in constructing a sanctuary for the Hirola, Beatragus hunteri, followed by capturing hirola to establish a conservancy. This project remains one of the most successful stories in community conservation.
Anastasia Gordon (Trinidad and Tobago)
From a young age I learnt to appreciate the rich biodiversity of my country. This passion led me to pursue a BSc in Environmental Management at the University of Birmingham, UK. In 2011, I returned to Trinidad to begin my career at the Environmental Policy and Planning Division (EPPD) of the Government Ministry responsible for the environment, where I worked for over 5 years. As an Environmental Policy Analyst, I was intimately involved in developing national environmental policies including the National Wildlife Policy and its supporting legislation. I also had responsibility for the implementation of programmes and initiatives that fulfil our obligations under the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD)as well as following matters of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Moreover, I served on the National Jury for the Implementation of the Blue Flag Certification and the National Coordinating Committee of the GEF Small Grants Programme. I also conducted and facilitated public awareness and education sessions/events on biodiversity for local schools and interested organisations.I believe this Masters will enhance my knowledge and equip me with the skills to become an effective change agent. I plan to address some of the unique challenges facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and find innovative approaches to biodiversity conservation.
Teona Karchava (Georgia)
I have worked for the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia since 2008, after receiving my MSc in Environmental Engineering from the Georgian Technical University in 2007. My unit makes policy for biodiversity conservation at the national level. Specifically, I am responsible for implementation of various Multilateral Environmental Agreements, such as CITES, CBD and Bern Convention. I also coordinate implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives as part of the Association Agreement between Georgia and the European Union. Besides that, I was involved in preparation of the second NBSAP (2014-2020) and new draft law on Biodiversity. Working for governmental organizations is really challenging, especially in countries like mine with economies in transition, where there is huge conflict between environmental and economic interests. However, my work has also given me opportunities to be part of important processes. Through its taught modules, field trips and other components I expect this Masters to deepen my knowledge and help strengthen my leadership skills, therefore enabling me to return recharged to the conservation activities in my country.
Razan Nimir (Sudan)
I completed my BSc in Zoology at the University of Khartoum, Sudan in 2012, Later, I obtained my MSc in Environmental Science from the Institute of Environmental Studies, Sudan. In 2015, I gained a Diploma in Environmental Management from the Dresden University of Technology, Germany. Since 2007, I have worked as a volunteer at the Sudanese Environment Conservation Society (SECS). Through SECS I coordinated various environmental events and worked closely with governmental institutions, NGOs and local communities. In 2014, I was a coordinator of a UNESCO-World Heritage Volunteer project that aimed to raise the awareness of local communities about the importance of a national protected area in Sudan and reduce human-wildlife conflict. Recently, I have been working on two projects. The first is about the impacts of artisanal gold mining on environment in Sudan, while the second is about enhancing the management of a marine protected area in Sudan's waters in the Red Sea. My topics of interest span conservation of biodiversity, natural resources management, and climate change adaptation, with emphasis in community engagement and sustainability of projects. Since March 2016, I have worked as a delegate at the IFAW International Youth Forum for People and Wildlife, representing the East Africa Region.
Lucia Norris (Ecuador)
I was awarded a double major in International Relations and Communications from the University of San Francisco de Quito. I have worked as a political communications advisor for a City Councilman on the development of political communications strategies as well as sustainable development and gender violence campaigns that were implemented in Quito between 2009 and 2013. At FFLA, Secretariat for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and the Latin American Platform on Climate (LAPC), I gained administrative and technical experience while coordinating projects and participating on the development of Learning, Monitoring and Evaluation and Communications strategies. As a communications and International Affairs Coordinator for the Ministry of Knowledge and Human Talent, I worked in the development of communication strategies for IKIAM, the Regional Amazon University. I started working at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) first as the Public Policies Officer for the Galapagos Program and latter as the first Monitoring and Evaluations Officer for the Ecuador country programme. An important reason as to why I am keen to undertake this Masters is because I believe it will enhace my technical knowledge on biodiversity loss and ecosystem change, which are important to do sound planning and impact monitoring. Also, through the MPhil in Conservation Leadership I look to find innovative tools to promote conservation actions in the Galapagos, Ecuador, and Latin America, that connect science, best practices, and inhabitants' wellbeing in order to promote humans to live in harmony with nature.
Joshua Noseworthy (Canada)
I grew up in the Maritime Region of Eastern Canada. I began my tertiary education with a forest technician diploma from the Maritime College of Forest Technology, followed by a BSc and MSc in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick. By focusing my studies on wildlife management and forest ecology, I was also able to receive a Wildlife Biologist accreditation through The Wildlife Society in 2011. After finishing school, I hiked for two months on the Appalachian Trail and it was then I decided to commit my career to biodiversity conservation. Through an internship with Wildlife Preservation Canada, I trained at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and then worked in Mauritius with the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation. After finishing, I returned home and was hired by the Nature Conservancy of Canada as a Conservation Biologist. I worked in this role for the past four years developing landscape conservation plans, mapping nature reserves and implementing forest restoration plans. I'm very excited now to gain a whole new set of skills through the Masters in Conservation Leadership! Onward and upward.
Roberta Kamille Pennell (Belize)
After completing my BSc in Natural Resource Management in Belize's capital city, I returned to my home town of Punta Gorda in search of a way to contribute to conservation. I eventually found my way to Ya'axché Conservation Trust where I started as a Development Officer Intern, sponsored by the Conservation Leadership Programme. After 6 months of internship, I was hired as the organization's first Belizean Development Officer and was subsequently promoted to Development Director. In this role, I was responsible for leading a fundraising drive to ensure the needs of the organization and its programmes were met. Four years at Ya'axché have allowed me to gain great insights into the operations of a thriving NGO. After 3 years in Development, I became the Operations Director, responsible for the oversight of Ya'axché's internal operations including donor reporting, human resources and finance functions. I have had the privilege of working in conservation for over 5 years and have thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I realize that there's so much more I can do. Therefore, I am pursuing a Masters in Conservation Leadership to foster my leadership skills and knowledge in an effort to expand my contribution to conservation.
Ravi Prasad (Fiji)
'The Swiss Family Robinson' gave me naïve dreams to be shipwrecked on a lost archipelago; growing up, I realised hundreds of such islands were already my home! Further university learning and teaching only made me mull over the threat of climate change, especially through leadership exchanges in Australia, Japan, India and the USA – here at EarthCorps, while restoring Seattle's backyard using brushcutters on abseil ropes, I mastered camping backcountry with sneaky bears! My love for mountains (and The Brothers Grimm) next took me to Germany on an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship where I worked on evolution in fruit flies from real oceanic islands to explain long term variations in the theory of island biogeography. At present, I am enrolled in a wildlife photography program in South Africa which I hope to complete after the MPhil. My goal thus is to learn how to merge these academic and practical skills together with good governance to rediscover 'lost' islands.
Natalia Sanin Acevedo (Colombia)
I hold a BSc in Biology from the Universidad de Antioquia in Colombia, where I was born. For the last five years I have been working for the Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF), coordinating training and research activities in the Amazon region of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, and more recently in Indonesia. CSF uses Economic Tools to improve conservation projects as well as development projects from the economic sector. Before CSF, I worked using Strategic Planning and the Theory of Change to improve the management of protected areas. I first applied this methodology in an 800 ha private inititive for my undergraduate thesis, I followed this up working in a 20 million ha regional initiative in Bolivia, during a professional placement at the FCBC in Bolivia.As an undergraduate student, I volunteered as a conservation educator at the zoological park in my home city of Medellin, where I also took care of wildlife rescued from illegal trade. During the same period, I volunteered as a member of the Coriacea Foundation to protect the humpback turtle arrivals in one of the most important nesting beaches in Colombia, where I also participate in data collection and educational activities, both published by the team.
Carolina Soto Vargas (Colombia)
I completed a BSc in Biology at the Pontificia Universidad Javeria in Colombia and was honoured to be placed second in my class. I have been part of different conservation projects, involving camera trapping, GIS, and work with local communities. I was the environmental advisor for a special scenario of communication between Indigenous Communities of the Colombian Amazon and the National Government. Additionally, I worked at Panthera Foundation for five years as Program Manager for Northern South America Jaguar Program. I designed species distribution maps and created new digital cartography for the projects in Colombia, Venezuela and Guyana and I was part of the team that established the first Jaguar Corridor in Colombia. I have co-authored scientific articles, book chapters, and technical manuals. One of those publications, A Guide to the Wildcats of Colombia, is the most complete publication about this topic in the country. I am interested in improving and gaining more skills to develop effective strategies to work with the local community, improve their quality of life and create a commitment to conservation of the natural resources and biodiversity they are coexisting with.
Noa Steiner (Israel)
I received a BSc in Life Sciences from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, where I discovered that my true passion was for nature conservation. I hold an MSc in Desert Studies from the Blaustein Institute for Desert Studies, Israel in which I examined the effects of different land management decisions on arthropod and spider communities. In 2009,worked in the HaMaarag – Israel's National Ecosystem Assessment Program. From 2010, I worked in the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection as an Open Landscape and Biodiversity Coordinator. This role has exposed me to many national and international policy measures for nature conservation, such as fire management, invasive species, signing and implementing international biodiversity conventions and treaties (e.g CBD, EuroBATS). I also functioned as the national coordinator of the Israeli Man and Biosphere Committee (UNESCO) and was part of many processes aiming to improve the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services in Israel while working with a wide variety of stakeholders from the government, NGOs and local authorities. I am committed to advancing the important link between science and policy making, for the conservation of global biodiversity.
Janet Taylor (South Africa)
I come from the east coast of South Africa where I am involved in natural resource management. I am a sixth-generation South African and am extremely proud of my country. I have a BSc in Ecological Sciences from the University of KwaZulu Natal as well as an MSc in Grassland Sciences from the Univerity of the Orange Free State. I have been working for the Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as a field-based Natural Scientist for the past 8 years. I work mostly on vegetation, plant-animal interactions and soil conservation where I provide management recommendations to a variety of different land users on how to manage their areas sustainably. I feel that the values of ecosystem processes which maintain the ecological infrastructure of South Africa, and which so many people rely on, need to be recognised. The practical and on-the ground interface I have with land users is an important one as providing advice and educating South Africans is the first step to create an awareness of our natural assets. I enjoy photography, love the natural beauty of South Africa and have travelled extensively throughout the southern African region.
Lhendup Tharchen (Bhutan)
I am from Ura, Bhutan. I graduated with a BSc in Life Science from Sherubtse College, Bhutan in 2004. I am also a 2005 alumnus of the Indian Forest Service (IFS) where I completed my MSc in Forestry from the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Dehradun, India in August 2007. In 2010, I completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice from the University of Oxford. I started my career working for the Nature Conservation Division, Department of Forests and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan as the Coordinator of the Carnivore Conservation Program. From 2010 onwards, I served as the head of the Species Conservation and Monitoring Section under the Wildlife Conservation Division office, Department of Forests and Park Services. During my tenure at the wildlife conservation office, I have been assigned with the additional responsibility of national coordinator and focal for tiger conservation. In 2013, I was appointed as the Chief of Jigme Dorji National Park, where I served for close to four years. During the same period, I had the fortune of serving as the national focal for snow leopard conservation. My research interests includes conservation of big cats focusing on tigers and snow leopards, behavioural ecology of felids, human wildlife conflict, climate change, ecosystem valuation, social capital in conservation, protected area governance and park financing.
James Tremlett (New Zealand)
I am from Tāmaki Makaurau in the north of Aotearoa/New Zealand. My work focuses on marine and coastal social-ecological systems, with a particular interest in the resilience of island and coastal communities in the face of social and environmental change. My academic training was in ecology and social science at the University of Auckland. I have been privileged to contribute to marine conservation projects throughout Aotearoa and the wider South Pacific, and have worked on marine protected area policy and management as well as at sea on industrial fishing vessels. In the long term I hope that my work will form part of a collective response to the threats facing our oceans, and will contribute to improving the relationship between indigenous peoples and the conservation community in Oceania. I am passionate about the reconnection of Oceanic peoples through the revival of Pacific voyaging and navigation traditions, and am a crewmember on the voyaging canoe Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti. My motivation to participate in this Masters comes from a desire to bridge the gap between conservation research and the implementation of meaningful environmental solutions for our island earth.
Savita Vijayakumar (India)
I gained a BSc in Mass Media at the University of Bombay. As a political ecologist, I have worked across governance scales and linked diverse actors for the last four years. At the Centre for Island Ecology in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (ANET), I was positioned at several state level committees related to biodiversity conservation and management. More recently, I have been working in tandem with marine biologists from the Nature Conservation Foundation in the Lakshadweep Islands where they have been monitoring 'Coral Reef Resilience'. Set against this ecological study, my research involves mapping the socio-cultural, political and economic factors that govern the small-scale fisheries of the islands. Prior to working in biodiversity conservation I was a research associate at NO2CO2 – a climate change research and advocacy body – and at the Informed Voter Project where I researched and designed protocols and methodologies to critically analyse legislative records of elected representatives of Mumbai. I consider myself a fringe practitioner as I work with interdisciplinary and trans-local approaches to answer the challenges of conservation 'interventions', specifically with coastal and marine environments.
Pui May Wong (Malaysia)
After graduating with a BSc in Environmental Science from Universiti Putra Malaysia, I joined the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT). I told my mum it was just a one-year stint but I ended up staying for over six-and-a-half years! MYCAT is an alliance between four NGOs which work on tiger conservation, namely the Malaysian Nature Society, TRAFFIC, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme and WWF-Malaysia. Starting as a programme officer, I later became the coordinator. I managed communications and joint initiatives, liaised with government and NGO partners, tended the MYCAT Wildlife Crime Hotline and helped run a gamut of outreach activities in schools and communities. Part of my work involved creating opportunities for everyone to participate in conservation efforts, for example through volunteer programmes and events. I also assisted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in monitoring the implementation of the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan for Malaysia. I am very fortunate to have worked with, learnt from, and been inspired by, current conservation leaders in Malaysia whose big shoes I hope to be able to fill one day.
Joseph Wood (UK)
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the diversity of living things. As I grew older, this facination was increasingly tempered by the realisation that populations of so many wonderful species are in decline, and that humanity's short-sighted destruction of the natural world is responsible for what amounts to a mass extinction event. Inspired by the writings of pionering conservationist Gerald Durrell, I embarked on a career in zoos. Over several years, I have been fortunate enough to work with some incredible animals alongside deeply inspiring people. I also studied for a BSc in Animal Behavior at Aberystwyth University, graduating in 2013. However, I have recently reached the uncomfortable conclusion that captive breeding, whilst a vital tool in the fight to salvage remnant populations of critically endangered species, does not address the underlying causes of anthropogenic extinction and is therefore of limited worth. Until humanity as a whole recognises that biodiversity is essential for the continued existence of our own species, and until this realisation is acted on by governments, communities and individuals, all other efforts to stem the destructive tide of biodiversity loss are ultimatly doomed to failure. I have, as yet, no solution to this most crucial of problems, but I intend to contribute in any way I can to the search for one. The MPhil in Conservation Leadership, with it's holistic approach to the problems of conservation, would seem to be the best possible place to start.
Weiling Wu (China)
I am from south China. I hold a BSc in Environmental Sciences from Sun Yat-sen University in China, and an MSc in Sustainable Development from Uppsala University in Sweden. Since 2011, I've worked on biodiversity conservation in both a government agency and in NGOs. Following an internship in WWF, I worked as a project officer for the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office of Ministry of Environmental Protection of China. There I was engaged in developing and managing GEF projects aimed at piloting Payments for Watershed Services schemes, and promoting energy efficient room air conditioners in China. I also conducted research on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) at international and national levels, to support of China's participation in these international processes. In 2015, I worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society's China Program to combat wildlife trafficking in South China and Southeast Asia. In this post, I was responsible for monitoring local wildlife markets, investigating the regional situation of illegal trade, and training frontline wildlife law enforcement officers. I expect the Masters in Conservation Leadership will allow me to rethink and integrate my previous experience, and enhance my leadership capability for future commitment to conservation.