Pembroke Alumna & Staff Member Embark on Research Expedition


We are excited to share with you the work of one of our alumni, Denise Swanborn (2016, MSc Biodiversity, Conservation and Management), and former staff member Bastiaan van Dalen, who was part of our Lodge team from 2018-2019! Bastiaan is now a PhD researcher at the University of Exeter.

Denise and Bastiaan are currently working on a joint research project with two other members of the University of Oxford. They are conducting fieldwork for a month on Príncipe island. Their aim is to study human nature interactions throughout time, and specifically how human colonisation of the islands changed the vegetation originally present on the island.  

Denise shares: "We are currently on a four-person University of Oxford expedition to the island of Príncipe, part of the island state of São Tomé and Príncipe off the coast of equatorial West Africa. This small island is a biodiversity hotspot, with several species found nowhere else in the world. Yet, relatively little research has taken place to study the island’s unique biodiversity.

The research conducted on our expedition aims to understand the island's environmental history, and contemporary human-environment interactions on the island. To achieve these goals, we take sediment cores from open water bodies. Combined with botanical surveys, these will allow us to build a picture of the state of the environment by studying changes in vegetation. We also interview local people to understand environmental stewardship practices, empirical environmental knowledge, and oral histories. We will share our findings through a YouTube mini-series and documentary. As part of this expedition, we are working closely with local communities and are grateful for the support of local and international partners.

Our expedition on Príncipe will deliver new insights into environmental change and human-environment interactions, past and present. Our hope is that this expedition will not only provide valuable insights into the island of Príncipe, but also inspire others to work towards the sustainable stewardship of their own local environments."

If you're interested in following their expedition, visit their website here. You can also visit their social media: Instagram Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Principe Island Collage (Researches to left and Island to the right)