My PhD research has taken me to the wilds of the Bolivian Amazon, where I'm working with scientists, indigenous leaders, and park staff to find ways to make scientific research more locally relevant and participatory. The ultimate aim is to see if doing this kind of work will help to bridge the infamous 'knowing-doing' gap that currently plagues the conservation sciences, and to ensure that research has impact that goes far beyond the ivory towers of academia. This work involves an action research component, and my team and I have received grants (http://www.rufford.org/projects/anne_helen_toomey) to carry out workshops to discuss the past, present and future of research with stakeholders in the Madidi region.
Before coming to Lancaster I worked in New York City, where I worked with grassroots organizations to help get citizens more involved with local nature. I even got to run Earthwatch expeditions for a couple of years to study the arrival of coyotes to our region, something very exciting for cynical manhattanites and ecologists alike (http://joomla.wildlife.org/documents/twp/the.last.frontier.pdf).
My favourite thing about working in academia is the collaborations one can constantly make - whether with other scientists or with civil society. There is so much we can learn from one another about how to live better on our planet.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Journal article