I am a Supernumerary Fellow at Exeter College and an Associate Professor of Biodiversity and Sustainability in the Department of Biology. I pursued my disciplinary training in the United States with degrees from the University of Minnesota, the University of Washington, and Michigan State University. Following the completion of my Ph.D. as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow I was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Missouri. In 2014, I was hired as an Assistant Professor of Conservation Science at Michigan State University where I was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2020. I joined the University of Oxford in 2021.
I am also the co-founder and co-director of two conservation programmes in Africa. In 2015, we launched The Snares to Wares Initiative as a Ugandan-registered community-based organisation. As part of the initiative we remove wire snares from protected areas, where they are a primary contributor to biodiversity loss, and provide technical training to local people to convert the confiscated wires into animal sculptures. The sale of these pieces (from six inches tall to life-sized) both locally and internationally generates revenue to build host-country capacities in conservation. Then in 2023, we launched the Innovation for Conservation (ICON) Programme, also situated in Uganda, to provide educational and technical training to local people enabling them to compete for ecotourism-related employment. The ICON programme presents a powerful mechanism to improve human well-being via employment and entrepreneurship, to strengthen the resilience of local communities to dynamic environmental conditions, and to reverse biodiversity loss via novel conservation practice. In addition to these positions, I also serve as an elected board member of the Detroit Zoological Society’s Science Committee and the British Ecological Society’s Equity and Diversity Advisory Group.
My research seeks to predict the mechanisms that structure animal populations. In doing so, I examine the consequences of trophic interactions on animal community dynamics, spatial patterns in landscape ecology, and the well-being of local people that live alongside these landscapes. Consequently, the scope of my research programme is broad, diverse, and grounded in applied studies. Given that diversity, however, large mammals are the most common experimental subjects of my research. I maintain a number of long-term field sites for exploration of these topics around the world and recruit diverse students to catalyse interdisciplinary collaborations in this research.
Within my research group, I foster a lively, diverse, and interdisciplinary learning environment featuring postdoctoral research associates, international research associates, graduate students, and undergraduate student researchers. The objectives of my programme are to; i) determine the extent to which ecological theories are generalisable to real-world landscapes, ii) empower and position students to reach their personal and professional goals, and iii) develop and apply novel and creative methods of communicating science and learning to society. Emblematic of my national and international reputation, I have received numerous awards for my integrated research and teaching programme and scores of invitations to provide presentations and seminars around the world.