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International Women’s Day (8 March each year) is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

To mark the occasion this year, we're showcasing international research carried out by some of our fantastic women scientists at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). We also highlight how international researchers can work with us to tackle global societal and environmental challenges.

Lucy Barker
Hydrological Analyst

"I’ve been at CEH five years this month – the time has flown by! My main focus is droughts and drought monitoring and this has offered me so many opportunities for training, travel – I’ve been to Europe, the US, India and China – and to meet lots of interesting people, from stakeholders to academics from all over the world. I worked on the DrIVER project to understand the link between drought indicators and drought impacts, and I’ve just started working on STAR which aims to improve agricultural resilience to drought in Thailand. I’m looking forward to the opportunities and research the future holds!"

Woman standing by lake

Dr Sarah Burthe
Wildlife Ecologist

"I am a research scientist who is passionate about wildlife, science and the environment. I study how environmental change affects parasites and disease in wild populations. In the UK I investigate how gut nematodes affect seabirds, looking at how the costs of parasites change foraging behaviour and impact reproduction and survival. My work also takes me to rural parts of India, where I am trying to understand how deforestation is altering ecosystems and leading to increased human cases of potentially fatal tick-borne diseases."

Group of people in front of trees

Dr Claire Carvell

"My research looks at the pressures facing bees and other insects, and how we can better manage and monitor our farmland and wild places to improve habitats for these essential pollinators. Last year I joined a team of UK ecologists at a workshop in Argentina funded by the British Council. Bringing together more than 30 leading and early career researchers from the UK and five countries across Latin America, we discussed the challenges of safeguarding pollination services in a changing world. It was an honour to share my research experiences with such an inspiring team, to build new collaborations and to glimpse a few sightings of the (now highly elusive) Giant Patagonian Bumblebee in its stunning environment!”

Woman taking a picture with a mobile phone

Jacky Chaplow
Informatics Liaison

"I work with a team investigating the effects on wildlife of radionuclides released during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. More than 30 years after the disaster, new research continues to be published. I was fortunate to be involved in a fieldwork campaign in the Red Forest (the most anthropogenically contaminated radioactive ecosystem on earth) which is inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. In July 2016 there was a severe fire that affected more than 80% of the Red Forest. This presented us with a unique opportunity to study the effect of fire on radionuclide mobility, as well as the impact of radiation on the recovery of a forest ecosystem exposed to fire."

Woman in hazard suit taking a photo

Dr Julia Drewer

"For my work on trace gases fluxes from various ecosystems, I've been fortunate to travel to interesting places such as Malaysian Borneo, Sumatra and India to meet, train and work with people from different cultural backgrounds. There is an urgent need for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from different ecosystems and agricultural systems, so that we can make predictions of future emissions under climate change. Part of my work is also looking for solutions to mitigate emissions and to improve sustainability of, for example, oil palm plantations.”

4 people in a tropical forest

Eleonora Fitos
Environmental Scientist

"When I was surveying trees in a flooded Paraguayan Atlantic Forest I found it fascinating (and challenging at the same time) finding species I have never seen before. Exploring very unusual looking orchids and other weird plants were amazing. Just being in this beautiful remote environment was inspiring and provided not only unforgettable memories but lots of new questions to answer and connections to understand in my collected data. By surveying in different places around the world I’ve had exciting adventures, contributed to natural science and met lots of inspiring people."

Woman with backpack in a forest

Dr France Gerard
Earth Observation Scientist

"In primary school I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. By the time I started University I wasn’t sure which profession I would pursue but I never imagined I would become a scientist.

Remote sensing allows me to derive information from satellite, aircraft or drone observations that describe the dynamics of the Earth’s land surface and vegetation. I’m currently managing an exciting research project that involves an amazing interdisciplinary team of scientists. Together we’re combining botany, soil biogeochemistry, soil hydrology, remote sensing, social sciences and art to unravel how the unique páramo vegetation in the Andes mountains collect and yield water for millions of people in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.”

Large group of people in a Colombian paramo

Ellen Goddard
PhD student, Loughborough Uni / CEH

"Biology has interested me from a young age. From microorganisms to animals, how a species interacts with another has always been fascinating. I’m now lucky enough to be studying towards a PhD in carnivorous plants, specifically pitcher plants that have been introduced into Europe. My research combines many of my interests such as invasive plants, carnivory, exotic fieldwork. I’m so lucky to get to work with such amazing plants and because of them I’ve had the opportunity to travel to amazing places! Having such a great collaborative team of supervisors also means I’ve been able to work in many new places including Harvard University and CEH in Lancaster. Such fantastic work experience really drives me to continue with a research career!"

Woman in a large greenhouse

Dr Felicity Hayes
Plant Ecophysiologist

“I have always enjoyed science and the excitement of new discoveries from experiments. My research is on the impacts of air pollution on native plants and crops. Part of my work is to coordinate an international biomonitoring programme to demonstrate that the local air quality is damaging plant health. For this, I send seeds all around the world for local scientists to grow. I feel privileged to be part of such a wide network, and it is very rewarding to know that this evidence base of impacts is part of the information that can influence international air pollution policy.”

Woman kneeling on grass

Alice Horton

"My research focuses on microplastics in the environment, primarily in rivers. I’m especially interested to understand the effects microplastics might have on freshwater organisms and ecosystems. There is still a lot to discover about microplastics as a pollutant - it’s a really exciting and dynamic field to be working in. I also enjoy teaching people about my area of expertise, benefitting from the insights of others outside my usual working environment. A variety of perspectives will help me ensure that my science is both useful and accessible. I’ve had fantastic opportunities to collaborate with international researchers across Europe and further afield, including Brazil (Universidade Federal do Parana) and at Leiden University in the Netherlands, where I’m undertaking my PhD."

Woman in lab coat sitting at microscope

Anita Jobson
Science Coordinator

"As CEH undertakes more and more science internationally, it’s encouraging to see that so many of our women scientists have a significant role in leading and delivering projects around the world. My own role involves helping to coordinate this work. At CEH I support our leadership team by maintaining oversight of what we are doing internationally — particularly in developing countries — to help connect the dots with our expertise and experience. The visibility of senior CEH female scientists working abroad and the active participation and collaboration with female scientists from developing countries is incredibly important to CEH. The impact female scientists can have in the developing world extends beyond the research and cannot be understated."

woman sitting at a desk

Dr Ellie Mackay
Freshwater Nutrient Ecologist

"As a freshwater ecologist, I study lake ecosystems and the things which influence how they change. Currently, I am working with an interdisciplinary team looking at the potential for the use of satellite images to understand the dynamics of algae in lakes across the globe. In the project we are examining the quantity of algae in nearly 1000 lakes, looking at their seasonal growing cycle and how these might change in the future."

Woman standing by a lake

Jodey Peyton

"I’m incredibly lucky to be part of a fantastic team of female scientists, running a Darwin Plus project on the Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) of Cyprus. Our project is looking at invasive non-native species and partly involves working with the local community to communicate the importance of recording wildlife. We’re also investigating the interactions between pollinating insects and native and non-native plant species. The photo below was taken at the end of our most recent workshop – these inspiring female scientists have enabled a huge increase in the understanding in the ecology of the SBAs."

Group of women standing

Dr Bethan Purse

"I'm fascinated by the ecology of infectious diseases affecting plant, animal and human health and what makes some areas and communities more vulnerable to disease. I model how the impacts of diseases may alter as we modify ecosystems and as the climate changes. The burden of livestock and zoonotic diseases (those that cycle between people and animals) is highest in low-income communities in tropical areas. On one project, I'm privileged to lead an Indo-UK team of researchers and public and animal health practitioners. We're investigating how forest communities in the Western Ghats, India can gain benefits from forests while avoiding exposure to the deadly tick-borne Kyasanur Forest Disease virus. Here I'm pictured with some of the dedicated disease managers and researchers involved on the frontline of keeping communities safe from zoonotic diseases in India."

Group of people

Dr Sabine Reinsch
Soil Ecologist

“I think of myself as a ‘Climate Change Ecologist’. I’m particularly interested in how changes in rain and temperature change our soils because soils are the basis for global food production, from plants to animals. I’m also an experimentalist and have been part of field manipulation experiments since my PhD studies in Denmark, and now at CEH. I’ve visited climate change experiments across Europe, have seen a natural soil warming gradient in Iceland which comes from hot springs, and a place of natural carbon dioxide enrichment in the Czech Republic. There is an amazing climate change research community now established in Europe and beyond, and I have been very fortunate to be a part of it.”

Woman kneeling in a field

Professor Helen Roy MBE

"Over the last year I’ve led a team of inspirational ecologists to some far-flung and magical places. We’ve been working on a project to predict future biological invasions and derive lists of invasive non-native species with the potential to pose a threat to the 16 UK Overseas Territories. Through this work, funded by the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat and UK Government, I’ve had the privilege of working with amazing people from around the world including dedicated and knowledgeable regional experts from the UK Overseas Territories. I’ve been excited to see the ways in which our collaborative research, involving more than 160 people, has contributed to conservation action in these incredible and often remote places."


Two women standing

Dr Tanya Warnaars
Environmental Engineering and Knowledge Exchange Specialist

"I was always interested in the natural world, and particularly curious about how environments respond to physical drivers. With my understanding of the impacts of climate change and learning how these will evolve in the future, I now work to get this information to those making policy decisions. Working in Senegal on a number of Department for International Development-funded research projects like AMMA 2050, which investigates changes in the African monsoon, we’re helping to improve agricultural policies that benefit societies and climate proof practices for the future."

Grroup of people standing outside a building

Dr Juliette Young
Social Scientist

“I’m a social scientist with a natural science background. I work mainly on conflicts around the conservation of species, and the interface between science, policy and society. I love working in this interdisciplinary field and it has allowed me to bring different perspectives together and to work on a variety of projects: from seals and salmon in Scotland, to snow leopard conservation in the Asian mountains and, more recently, zoonotic diseases in India. A key aspect of my work is looking at if and how different communities engage in conservation – and, more importantly, how this can benefit people and wildlife.”

People in conversation

Are you an international scientist who would like to work with CEH on global challenges?

There are a number of routes to work with CEH for scientists located outside the UK. As well as international projects and collaborative research through calls such as the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund, there are fellowships, studentships, workshops and staff exchange programmes.

The British Council provides 'Researcher Links' via travel and workshop grants and 'Institutional Links' for specified countries each year.

NERC provides an annual call for their Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund. This allows UK researchers to forge partnerships with international researchers through, for example, focused programmes of exchange visits, scoping studies and workshops.

The Darwin Initiative funds research and implementation work to protect biodiversity and the natural environment in developing countries and the UK Overseas Territories.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions provide several options. This includes Individual Fellowships (IF) which funds experienced researchers from across the world and the Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) which funds short-term exchanges of personnel between academic, industrial and commercial organisation.

If you’re interested in working with CEH please refer to our contact pages so we can direct you to the appropriate team.

Additional links

International Women's Day

UN International Women's Day - History of the Day

CEH's international science