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Victoria Maguire-Rajpaul (Yadvinder Malhi, Constance McDermott, & Mark Hirons)


How can cocoa smallholders adapt and sustain their livelihoods in the face of climate shocks?

Victoria’s research is on sustainable agriculture in tropical and savannah landscapes. She is concerned with sustaining rural livelihoods, political ecology, the geographies of commodities, and farmers’ adaptive capacity in the face of climate shocks. Her research asks: how can food and forest challenges be resiliently met with the least cost to human suffering, biodiversity, ecosystem health, and tree cover? Her DPhil focuses on the socio-ecological limits of intensifying production of the commodity crop of cocoa and how cocoa farmers can adapt to droughts.


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Laura Picot (Yadvinder Malhi/Connie McDermott)
DTP in Environmental Research
Gender, smallholder food crops and climate resilience in Ghana

Laura researches how Ghanaian farmers’ gender and intersectional identities shape household resilience to climate change and other shocks. She focuses on the role that food crops play in household economies, markets and food security. Her intersectional approach to gender explores the importance of further identities such as age, ethnicity, wealth and position in the household. Laura uses a mixed methods approach that draws upon her experience in both the natural and social sciences. She combines qualitative interviews with quantitative analysis of survey and climate data. She was awarded funding through the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) doctoral studentship. Laura is passionate about improving equity in research and academia and has advised on anti-racist initiatives across the University of Oxford. Prior to her DPhil, Laura was a sustainability and international development consultant. She worked on land use, gender and development, and green finance projects across policy and private sectors. 



Sean Reilly (Imma Oliveras)

An integrative approach to fire management in California


Sean’s research interests lie in the role ecological science plays in real-world decision-making. He is currently working on understanding perceptions and significance of different methods for determining fire risk as they relate to land management decisions for risk mitigation. His research combines qualitative interviews with land managers with remote sensing and ground based field techniques. His work is based in the forests of California, USA.


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Frank Sperling (Yadvinder Malhi)
Green Growth, Climate Change, Disaster Risk Management and Resilience Building, REDD+ and AFOLU


After years of working in development cooperation for international organizations, Frank recently joined the team to conduct research into the conceptualizations of the Anthropocene, green growth and the arising implications for sustainable development pathways. His prior professional work has focused on mainstreaming adaptation to climate change into development policies and practices, sustainable land management, performance based payment systems for natural resource management, and the operationalization of green growth in African development contexts. He has worked on various programs and project initiatives in South America, Africa and South East Asia.


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Carlota Segura-Garcia (Imma Oliveras) 

Environmental Research DTP 


Carlota is a PhD student in the Environmental Research DTP programme at the University of Oxford. She is interested in understanding the ways in which human land uses, particularly agriculture, disrupt the functioning of ecosystems. In her PhD project, Carlota is going to research the fire regimes of the Brazilian savannahs (the Cerrado) in the context of large-scale agricultural expansion and climate change using remote sensing data, statistical analysis, and modelling. She will also explore the effects of extreme climatic events like droughts and heatwaves on the Cerrado ecosystems and its fire regimes. 


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Ty Loft Ty Loft (Imma Oliveras/Nicola Stevens)

Forest Change and Environmental Governance Institutions in Post-Conflict Angola’s Dry Forests

Ty Loft (Imma Oliveras/Nicola Stevens)


Ty’s DPhil research investigates the way ecosystems and biodiversity are changing in the miombo woodlands of Southern Africa, as well as the way African states’ political systems structure those changes. His research seeks to inform the sustainable governance of the miombo woodlands, Africa’s largest savanna. Much of his doctorate will empirically test the Biodiversity Intactness Index for Africa in Zimbabwe’s miombo woodlands. His master’s research investigated how Angola’s post-conflict, resource-dependent political economy has shaped environmental change within Angolan savannas. Before Oxford, Ty worked on ocean policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. He attends Oxford as a Clarendon Scholar.


Guilherme Costa Alvarenga

Jaguar ecology and conservation

Gui is a Brazilian biologist and holds a position as DPhil candidate in the Zoology Department at the University of Oxford. Since 2013, he has been working with jaguar (Panthera onca) ecology and conservation mainly in three research lines: (1) population dynamics, (2) habitat use, and (3) human-carnivore conflict.

During his doctorate, Gui will combine three areas of knowledge – movement ecology, human-carnivore conflict, and landscape analysis – developing the first landscape ecological modelled assessment of jaguar population connectivity across the entire geographical range of the species. Landscape modelling based on empirical data, such as GPS-collared animals, are important tools to understand how animals interact with the habitat and, for consequence, to direct conservation actions. His DPhil project, for instance, seeks to reduce anthropogenic impacts on jaguar populations by enlightening core jaguar habitats and key dispersal corridors, as well as testing how future human-induced alterations in the habitat may impact the species on the Continent. Gui's DPhil is a collaboration among WildCRU, Oxford Ecosystems and Mamirauá Institute, sponsored by WildCRU, WFA and WCN.



Jed Soleiman (Yadvinder Malhi)

Jed is passionate about ecological restoration and rewilding, and the intersection this shares with agriculture to improve outcomes for both people and the planet. He is currently working to understand the community structure and differing guilds of mycorrhiza between agricultural and rewilded plots, and how this might influence future efforts and decision making in conservation. Jed holds a BA in Geography from the University of Cambridge, and prior to beginning Oxford worked in circular economy, consulting on reusable packaging design and managing C-suite stakeholders. In his spare time, Jed is also a keen gardener and forager who loves to share his passions with anyone who’s keen to listen!


Jed’s contact:



Xiongjie Deng (Jesús Aguirre-Gutiérrez/ Yadvinder Malhi)

Xiongjie is a DPhil student from China. His doctoral research focuses on measuring, modelling, monitoring, and forecasting forest spatiotemporal dynamics across tropical ecosystems based on both active and passive remote sensing data in junction with in-situ measurements. Specifically, he investigates how to map and predict plant functional traits from space and how functional traits

help to understand tropical forests’ responses to the changing environment. Before joining Oxford, Xiongjie earned a

master’s degree from the State Key Laboratory of Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing in Wuhan University.

Xiongjie’s contact: 



Tanaya Nair (visiting student)

Tanaya is a research intern investigating how species ranges are being exposed to climate change in the future and how this could impact biodiversity and nature recovery. Her work will contribute to aims of the Leverhume Centre for Nature Recovery at Oxford. She recently completed an MRes in Biodiversity, Evolution, and Conservation at UCL and has a background in landscape prioritisation, science for policy and science communication.



Francisco Navarro Rosales (Andy Hector/Imma Oliveras)

Stability of tropical forest and savanna dynamics in the face of global change.


I am a plant ecology DPhil student with a background in ecology and environmental sciences. My doctoral research is focused on investigating the stability of tropical ecosystem carbon and tree population dynamics in the face of increased drought and fire risks, focusing on savannas within the Brazilian Cerrado and on rainforests in Borneo. I will explore ecosystem change induced by climate variability using long-term data from the Sabah Biodiversity Experiment led by Prof. Andy Hector. I will also be describing changes in the carbon cycle of the Cerrado as a researcher within the CERFogo Project, which is coordinated by my co-supervisor, Dr Imma Oliveras Menor, and by Prof. Maria Antonia Carniello from the Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso, Brazil.





Kendall Jefferys (Jesús Aguirre-Gutiérrez)

Kendall is an MPhil student in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management at the University of Oxford. Her current research combines remote sensing and modeling to detect habitat change for the Rufous hummingbird, a species of conservation concern. She is broadly interested in hummingbirds, pollinator health and the effects of large-scale drivers of climate and land cover change such as forestry and agriculture on species distributions. Kendall holds a BA in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University. She attends Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship.



Alice Rosen (Jesús Aguirre-Gutiérrez)

I am a first-year DPhil student on the BBSRC (Interdisciplinary bioscience) DTP. For my 3-month rotation project in the Functional Biodiversity group, I will be mapping the functional diversity of Wytham Woods using trait data (leaf nutrients, photosynthetic and structural traits) and multispectral UAV imagery. I’m a zoologist turned scientific illustrator, and more recently a forest ecology & remote sensing enthusiast. I am interested in the interaction between plants, climate change and biodiversity, and how scientific research can help to inform policy and management decisions.

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