Africa College welcomes 2 new PhD students
Pete Steward and Gorm Shackelford (Doctoral Research Students - Leeds University and ICIPE)
PhD Research: Sustainable ecosystem services for Kenyan agriculture: pollination and biological control
Pete and Gorm are BBSRC funded PhD students, supervised by Steve Sait, Tim Benton and Koos Biesmeijer (Pete) and Steve Sait, Bill Kunin and Koos Biesmeijer (Gorm), who will be working with ICIPE (International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology), one of The University of Leeds' Africa college partners, in Nairobi. Pete and Gorm will investigate how farm and landscape management affects the delivery of ecosystem services, namely pollination and biological control of crop pests.
Pete graduated from the University of East Anglia (U.E.A.) in 2005 with a 1st Class BSc in Ecology and has worked within the UK as a field ecologist for environmental consultancies (Entec), goverment bodies (Natural England, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) and NGOs (Somerset Wildlife Trust). In 2009 he returned to U.E.A. and gained a distinction for his masters in Applied Ecology and Conservation. His dissertation project assessed the population of an endangered passerine (Acrocephalus rodericanus) on the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and was co-supervised by Prof. Carl Jones (Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust).
Gorm graduated from the University of London (Birkbeck) in 2010 with a 1st Class BSc in Biodiversity and Conservation. He researched the taxonomy and systematics of a group of South American flowering plants, related to onions, at the Jodrell Laboratory of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew. Before becoming a full-time PhD student, Gorm worked as a freelance photographer in London.
Pete commented, 'This is a fantastic opportunity to work at the sharp-edge of applied ecology where we as researchers can really make a difference to livelihoods and landscapes. I can?t think of anything else I'd rather be working on! Knowledge exchange and collaborative research are key themes in Africa College's vision and to this end Gorm and I will be working closely with our partner organisation ICIPE at their Duduville campus in Nairobi. Furthermore, Africa College has recently supported our attendance at an ESPA pollination workshop, hosted by ICIPE, which will allow us to develop relationships and to shape our research direction to match the priorities of our Africa College partners in addressing the most pressing problems in Kenyan food security.' Gorm added, 'Pollination and biological control have been studied as separate ecosystem services in several temperate and tropical agroecosystems. However, they have not been studied very much in combination, or in tropical Africa. Hopefully, our research will identify synergies between pollination and biological control, and we will be able to recommend habitat management strategies that improve the functioning of both of these ecosystem services, in order to improve crop yield and farmer livelihood, while conserving biodiversity in African agroecosystems.'
1st November 2010