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Professor Yadvinder Malhi CBE FRS
Professor of Ecosystem Science and
Academic Director, MSc in Environmental Change and Management

As Professor of Ecosystems Science at the School of Geography and the Environment, and Programme Leader of the Ecosystems Group at the Environmental Change Institute, Yadvinder’s research interests focus on understanding the functioning of ecosystems and how it is altered by processes of local and global change.  He has a particular interest in tropical forests.

The broad scope of Yadvinder’s research interests is the impact of global change processes such as atmospheric change and direct human modification on the ecology, structure and composition of terrestrial ecosystems, and in particular temperate and tropical forests. This research addresses fundamental questions about ecosystem function, diversity and dynamics, whilst at the same time providing outputs of direct relevance for conservation and adaptation to climate change. His group applies a range of techniques including field physiological studies, intensive and long-term ecological monitoring, quantitative and qualitative social science methodologies, satellite remote-sensing and GIS, ecosystem modelling, and micrometeorological techniques. He coordinates an extensive and expanding research programme in Asia, Africa and particularly across the Amazon and Andes region. He also runs an active research programme at Oxford University’s Wytham Woods research site. He was co-founder of the Amazon Forest Inventory Network (RAINFOR) which has resulted in over 50 publications. In recent years he has developed an international research network (GEM: collecting data on ecosystem function in a number of research sites across the tropics.

​Contact email: ​
​Personal website: ​

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Dr Jesús Aguirre Gutiérrez
NERC Independent Research Fellow/Deputy Programme Leader
Junior Research Fellow, Somerville College

The goal of my research is to disentangle how a changing climate has impacted, is currently driving and will modify in the near future our natural forest ecosystems.

Much is still unknown about how tropical forests around the world are responding to an increasingly fast changing climate, and there may be regions that are or will experience stronger biodiversity shifts and may be in more need of protection or regulation.

Having grown-up in Guadalajara, one of the biggest cities in Mexico where not much nature is around, I decided to spend a year living with the indigenous "Raramuri" community in Northern Mexico to learn from their vision of nature.

My research interests come from understanding the importance nature has on our livelihoods - something I learnt through my experiences with indigenous communities in Mexico and abroad.

I am and NERC Independent Research Fellow at the School of Geography and the Environment and the Environmental Change Institute. In my work I try to understand the role that plant functional characteristics play in the resilience of tropical forests and make use of field assessment and also lots of remote sensing data from drones and satellites. Currently I am working across several countries including Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Ghana, Gabon, Malaysia and Australia. See more about my work on my personal website.


I am always open to discuss research opportunities at bachelor, MSc and PhD level, feel free to contact me if interested.



Dr Imma Oliveras
Departmental Research Lecturer in Ecosystems Science

Imma’s research interests are to decipher how and why tropical vegetation structure and dynamics change across abiotic gradients and the consequences of these changes are at the community and ecosystem scale. As such, her work focuses on exploring how changes in the abiotic conditions driven by global change – and particularly increases in extreme drought events and modified fire regimes – affect plant functional traits and how this aggregates to diversity and ecosystem functioning using remote sensing approaches. She has ongoing projects in several countries of the tropics, including Brazil, Colombia, and Ghana.


​Personal website: ​


Course Director of the MSc/MPhil in Environmental Change and Management

Mark is interested in addressing inter-linked social and environmental challenges through interdisciplinary research and teaching. He is broadly engaged with research that investigates issues of well-being, inequality and justice with respect to climate change and natural resource governance. He is interested in how different values and knowledges interact with institutional and cultural contexts in driving the governance decisions which underpin environmental and social change across a range of scales. Previously Mark worked as a post-doctoral researcher working on the Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) ECOLIMITS project. This interdisciplinary project investigated the linkages between ecosystem service provision and the multiple dimensions of poverty in coffee- and cocoa-dominated agricultural settings, focusing on Ethiopia and Ghana respectively.



Dr Nicola Stevens
Trapnell fellow in African Environments

Nikki’s research interests are centred around understanding vegetation dynamics in African savannas and how they are likely to change given increasing global change pressures like altered fire and herbivory regimes against a backdrop of changing CO2 concentrations. Along this vein I have become particularly interested in the phenomenon of woody encroachment where open ecosystems across the tropics are being invaded by native woody species. It has also driven me to improve our ability to predict future species ranges under global change by improving our mechanistic understanding of range edges in disturbance limited systems. She has ongoing projects in Southern Africa with the hopes to expand this research to other tropical savannas.



Dr Constance McDermott
Jackson Senior Research Fellow in Land Use and Environmental Change
Ecosystem Governance Group Leader


Connie’s research addresses the governance of forests and land use change at multiple scales. It examines both "new" and “old" governance institutions, from market-based initiatives such as forest and carbon certification to sovereign state-based and traditional community-based approaches, to better understand how dynamics of trust and power shape environmental and social policies and facilitate or inhibit desired outcomes. Connie’s work at ECI and the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests has focused on the multi-scale enactment of a range of international initiatives, including Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) initiatives, the EU Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEGT) Action Plan, and government and private sector ‘zero deforestation’ pledges addressing the role of global commodities in driving land use change.



Stephen Thomas    
Centre manager for the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery

Stephen joined in 2023 as the centre manager for the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery. He is responsible for day-to-day operations of the centre; managing the communication and program management processes across the multiple workstreams and assisting the directors in delivering against the strategic plan to meet the centre’s core aims.

Stephen has over a decade’s worth of experience in project and program management and has been a keynote speaker at international project management conferences. After a career delivering digital and tech projects for multi-national companies, he moved to working in international development. He was responsible delivering the technology component for one of DfID’s SPHEIR programs (Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform) which used online tools to mentor and train junior doctors, nurses and midwifes in Somaliland.

More recently he studied forestry at Bangor University and has been working on environmental regeneration projects on Prosopis-affected farmlands in East Africa; as well working on forestry related projects in the UK through the Royal Forestry Society.


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Dr Erika Berenguer
Senior Research Associate


Erika Berenguer is a Senior Research Associate at both the University of Oxford and the Lancaster University. She works in the DIEBACK project, looking at the impacts of logging and understorey fires in ecosystem functions performed by Amazonian forests. Her interests lie in developing a better understanding of different ecosystem functions performed by human-modified tropical forests and in assessing the resilience of these forests in the face of climate change. In addition, she is passionate about finding ways of effectively communicating scientific results to relevant stakeholders and policy-makers.

Contact:, @Erika_Berenguer

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Dr Cecilia Dahlsjö
Post-Doctoral Researcher 

Cecilia is a NERC funded postdoc with 10 years’ experience of field based ecological research in both tropical and temperate forest ecosystems. Her main focus is on bottom-up approaches to ecosystem functioning with a particular interest in invertebrates as drivers of habitat stability. She is currently managing an interdisciplinary project examining the ecological impact of ash dieback in Wytham Woods. The majority of the European ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) is disappearing across the continent due to the introduced fungal pathogen Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. This mass mortality event is expected to have a major effect on woodland habitat structure, nutrient cycling, and animal connectivity and behaviour. With an increase in global trade and climate change, pathogen driven mortality events like this are likely to become more frequent. Through long-term monitoring and experimental set-ups, this project will enable better understanding of mass mortality events and enhance management practices to both prevent and improve future scenarios.    



Personal website:

Twitter: @CDahlsjo


Dr Cécile Girardin
Science Lead, Oxford Biodiversity NetworkTechnical Director, Nature Based Solutions Initiative
Freelance Artist

Cécile is Science Lead of the Oxford Biodiversity Network [link:] and Technical Director of the Nature Based Solutions Initiative [link:]
Cécile is passionate about translating science into art, and using art to facilitate scientific discussions. She combines years of experience in climate change policy analysis with a background in tropical ecology and thorough understanding of forest ecosystem functioning, providing a unique multidisciplinary approach to my work. As a consultant for the UN FAO REDD+ team, she worked on policy analysis and gained clear insights into the UNFCCC principles. As a researcher in the University of Oxford, She developed skills in data gathering and analysis through intensive fieldwork in Andean and Amazonian tropical forests, and managed the Global Ecosystems Monitoring network dataset.


Contact:|website:|Instagram: @cecilegirardin|Twitter: @cecilegirardin


Dr Manoela Machado 

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Manu is a post doc researcher whose research interests revolve around investigating how anthropogenic pressures and their interactions with climate can alter fire regimes in tropical forests. She does so through studying both fine-scale flammability metrics and broad-scale drivers and patterns via spatial modelling. Currently, Manu is investigating the apparent atypical fire season of 2019 in the Amazon and unpicking the relative contribution of the main drivers. Her John Fell / GCRF project seeks to inform policies and prevent other severe fire seasons in the Amazon.
Contact: and


Dr Eleanor Thomson

Post-Doctoral Researcher

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Oxford Ecosystems and Oxford Seascape labs. My background is in ecological remote sensing with a focus on tropical forest ecosystems.


I’m currently working on a Bertarelli Marine Science Project that seeks to quantify the importance of seabird-derived nutrients on tropical island ecosystems. This is a joint project between Oxford, Exeter and Lancaster University The project works with local partner organisations across the Chagos Archipelago, Seychelles and French Polynesia to support tropical island conservation and restoration in these regions.  


I am also a Senior Researcher at Gentian Ltd. Outside of work, you can see me cycling around Oxfordshire, flying my drone up at Wytham woods, or swimming in the river.  


Dr. Jeppe A. Kristensen

Postdoctoral Researcher

Carlsberg Foundation Visiting Fellow

Jeppe is a physical geographer currently interested in how animals regulate ecosystem biogeochemistry and climate change feedbacks. In times of climate change, much research is on biological responses to abiotic drivers, however, Jeppe is particularly fascinated about how animals themselves modulate their physical and chemical (abiotic) environment as ecosystem engineers. Most of his research has been centered around soils in the interface with landscape ecology, geoarcheology, and geochronology. Jeppe’s scientific contributions include the use of burial mounds in Scandinavia as paleoarchives for prehistoric soil C content, quantification of termite biotubation in African savannahs and forests using sediment dating techniques, and the impact of insect herbivores on biogeochemical cycling in the Subarctic. During his fellowhip in Oxford, Jeppe will assess how large herbivore introduction (megafauna rewilding) affects soil C dynamics, with his primary field site being the Pleistocene Park in Siberia (project: HERBIVARC). He has previously worked at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), Wageningen University (Netherlands), and Lund University (Sweden).  


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Dr Emily Warner

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Emily is a postdoctoral researcher in the Nature-based Solutions Initiative and Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery. Her research focusses on understanding biodiversity outcomes of nature-based solutions. She is particularly interested in exploring the impact of nature-based solutions interventions experimentally and in developing monitoring approaches to capture biodiversity responses within nature-based solutions projects. She provides an ecological and biodiversity focus as part of an interdisciplinary team working on scaling up nature-based solutions in the UK, through the Agile Initiative. This will lead onto further research exploring the biodiversity outcomes of restoration efforts in two case study landscapes (Oxfordshire and the central Scottish Highlands) as part of the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery.

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Dr. Aoife Bennett
Departmental Research Lecturer

Dr. Aoife Bennett is Departmental Research Lecturer in the Environmental Social Sciences at ECI, SOGE and is a member of the Ecosystems Governance Group and the  Ecosystems Lab. She is an interdisciplinary environmental research scientist with expertise in the social sciences, a strong background in Political Ecology and a focus on the socio-political and environmental challenges and opportunities in the Amazon. Her research involves a large amount of multi-methods field-based research, and always includes the most marginalized members of society as active members of her research. She is particularly interested in decolonizing research techniques and activities and working together on breaking down the North/South divide therein.

Aoife is an active member of the global social and environmental community within and outside of academia. She sits as Fellow to the Biodiversity Council at the World Economic Forum (where Aoife created the World Economic Strategic Intelligence Map for Biodiversity (, Trustee for the charity Action for Conservation, as an author on the Science Panel for the Amazon (including in the Amazon Assessment Report), and as Advisor to a small indigenous charity that promotes cultural preservation in the Peruvian Amazon.

Aoife is a passionate researcher that likes to be involved in the lives of the people in the places where she works and as such is something of an activist academic she also engages in philanthropy and meaningful local capacity building and mutual aid.


Prof Erle Ellis
Visiting Professor Oxford Martin School and School of Geography and the Environment

Erle Ellis is Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where he directs the Anthroecology Laboratory.

His research investigates the ecology of human landscapes at local to global scales to inform sustainable stewardship of the biosphere in the Anthropocene. His recent work examines long-term changes in Earth’s ecology produced by human societies through the concept of anthropogenic biomes, or anthromes, a term he introduced in 2008.

He has developed online tools for global synthesis of local knowledge (GLOBE) and inexpensive tools for mapping landscapes in 3D (Ecosynth). He is a Global Highly Cited Researcher, a UMBC Presidential Research Professor, a lead author on the IPBES Transformative Change Assessment, a Fellow of the Global Land Programme, a Senior Fellow of the Breakthrough Institute and a former member of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. He teaches environmental science and landscape ecology at UMBC and has taught ecology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. His first book, Anthropocene: A Very Short Introduction was published by Oxford University Press in 2018.


Dr Milton Barbosa 

Post-doctoral researcher

Milton, a post-doctoral researcher specializing in tropical ecosystems with over 15 years of field research experience, focuses on understanding and predicting the impacts of global environmental changes on biodiversity and human well-being. His current research involves using remote sensing data to detect climate-induced forest degradation in South America. He is also part of SinBiose Trajetorias, a collaborative project among Brazilian institutions, leading research on the influence of socioeconomic and environmental factors on the emergence of vector-borne diseases in the Amazon region. Additionally, Milton actively contributes to one of Brazil's Long-Term Ecological Research Projects (LTER/PELD – CNPq), where he investigates global changes in mountaintop grasslands.


Dr Huanyuan Zhang-Zheng 

Post-doctoral researcher

Dr. Huanyuan Zhang-Zheng is a Postdoctoral researcher with a profound interest in African forest ecology, carbon cycle modelling, and plant functional traits. Affiliated with both the University of Oxford and UC Berkeley, he is responsible for building the Global Ecosystem Monitoring (GEM) Forests carbon cycle database. Dr. Zhang-Zheng's primary research endeavours encompass the compilation of the GEM forests carbon cycle database, data-model comparisons of forests' gross primary productivity, and meta-analyses of forest productivity across a multitude of tropical sites. He is also the sole author of CRAN R package 'ARTofR' (


Dr. Zhang-Zheng earned a BSc in Environmental Science from Sun Yat-sen University in China, and the University of Birmingham. He also holds an MRes in Ecosystem and Environmental Change (Distinction) from Imperial College London. In 2023, he was awarded DPhil in Geography and the Environment from the University of Oxford with a thesis entitled "Gross primary production of West African tropical forests". He has been the recipient of the Environmental Change Institute small grants from the University of Oxford, the Tang scholarships awarded by the China Oxford Scholarship Fund, and the Henfrey scholarship on Chinese studies from St Catherine’s College, Oxford. Additionally, his research was funded by Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden Open Funding, and African-Oxford Catalyst Grant, awarded by African-Oxford Initiative.


Born on a tropical island (Nan'ao Island, China) and passionate about tropical ecosystems, he has travelled to and conducted research in Mexico, Colombia, Ghana, Malaysia and Yunan, China. He is also a PADI qualified Free Diver and Dive Master.


Dr Felipe Martello

Post-doctoral researcher

Felipe is a community and spatial ecologist focusing on how spatial structure influences biodiversity and related ecological processes. In his research, he studies the effects of anthropogenic landscape structures on different facets of biodiversity, including taxonomic diversity, functional diversity and beta diversity. Currently, he also seeks to use the multidimensionality of biodiversity to gain insights into natural capital biological assets, both in pristine and recovering natural areas. Felipe has also developed computational spatial modelling tools for nature recovery, including the simulation of ecological corridors and the identification of priority areas for restoration and conservation. 

He is currently an ecological remote sensing postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, funded by Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery, where he is working on the use of Earth Observation data to map aspects of ecosystem functionality and resilience, and to assess the temporal dynamics of land use and land cover change in areas dedicated to nature recovery. 


Sruthi Krishna Moorthy Parvathi 

Visiting researcher

My broad research interest is around understanding how climate change affects forest structure and function. My primary focus has been on investigating the impact of lianas loads (climbing plants) on tree structures, particularly how they influence carbon storage estimates. My work aims to unravel the intricate ways in which these climbing plants interact with their host trees and subsequently affect the broader forest ecosystem. Currently, as a Junior Research Fellow, my main objective is to map the global distribution of lianas. This map will serve as a critical tool in my research, enabling me to analyze the patterns and drivers behind the distribution of these climbing plants on a global scale. I hope to contribute valuable insights into the field of forest ecology, specifically in understanding how these unique plant species adapt and thrive in changing climatic conditions, and their role in the global carbon cycle

Jane is responsible for coordinating the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests.She organises a series of seminars each term, maintains the OCTF website, Facebook page and Twitter account and produces a weekly OCTF
e-newsletter.Please email Jane if you would like to be added to the OCTF mailing list.

Jane Applegarth

Part-time Admin Assistant and Coordinator for Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests

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Support Staff

Claudia Cassidy

Project Assistant to the Ecosystems Lab

Claudia is Professor Yadvinder Malhi’s assistant and she looks after the admin and finance side of things in the lab as well as the website and other media channels. Claudia has a degree in biology and she is deeply fascinated by the work done in the lab.


                        Polly Nuttgens
                        Administrator, Energy Programme and Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery

Polly’s role is to manage the administrative office of the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery, and support its day-to-day administration and processes including recruitment, finance and liaison with the Leverhulme Trust.  As Administrator for the ECI Energy programme she supports the research and engagement activities of the energy team and is responsible for internal and external processes related to programme activities.

Prior to joining the SOGE she worked as Alumni Relations Officer for the Blavatnik School of Government, Executive Coordinator at the Saïd Business School, for the Development Department of the Ashmolean Museum as well as Arts Council England and Modern Art Oxford. Polly is a graduate in Fine Art from Liverpool John Moores University.


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                          Carlyn Samuel

                          Communications and Events manager - Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery




Carlyn joined in 2023 as the Communications and Events manager for the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery. She is looking forward to promoting the incredible work being done in the Centre to both internal and external audiences. She will be managing the website for the Centre as well as the social media, press relations and publicity. She will also be arranging events such as workshops, public outreach activities and a series of ‘Nature Seminars’.

Previously, Carlyn worked as a Research Facilitator in the ICCS lab in the Biology department, but prior to that she worked in the printing industry as an Account Director in a marketing and communications agency, she left that role after 15 years to carry out a Masters in Conservation Science at Imperial College, which led to a huge career change, and has never looked back.


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