“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” wrote the Chinese philosopher Laozi in the Dao De Jing. We are facing huge challenges in achieving food security and biodiversity conservation. Even though the path to solving these problems may seem daunting due to their scope and complexity, I believe we should take Laozi’s words at heart and start countering these issues by taking single steps at a time.
My experience with conservation projects in the Netherlands, New Zealand and the USA made me realize that often the first step in solving a challenge is to get a thorough understanding of what the problem is. That is why I decided to pursue a PhD.
In my PhD project I am investigating how agricultural production and biodiversity conservation can be achieved in smallholder farming communities in the developing world, taking smallholder farming in Papua New Guinea as my study case.
I also take steps outside of my research to raise awareness for sustainability issues by joining student associations, taking part in sport competitions such as the Run-For-Your-Life Initiative (a relay race from the Arctic to Paris on the occasion of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference), writing articles for the Dutch website duurzamestudent.nl, and managing the blog content for Conservation Optimism!
My research interests lie in the field of sustainable agriculture and conservation. I am trying to find an answer to the question of how we can feed the world’s population while safeguarding the environment.
Combining agricultural production with biodiversity conservation will be one of the main challenges of the 21st century. Smallholder farmers in developing countries play a key role in this issue. Smallholders need to increase their production to meet the food demand of their countries' rapidly growing population. At the same time, the majority of smallholders live in biodiversity-rich areas. So how smallholder farmers manage their environment is of crucial importance to food security and the state of biodiversity.
Currently there are major knowledge gaps with regards to how land can best be managed to produce the food required, while at the same time safeguarding the environment, in the context of population growth and climate change.
My study aims to contribute to fill these gaps by investigating how sustainable agriculture in smallholder farming communities can be achieved, with smallholder farming in Papua New Guinea as my study case. My hope is to provide evidence for policies that promote sustainable food security for smallholder farming communities, and ultimately help to contribute to a diverse world with no hunger.
2016 – present
DPhil/PhD student – University of Oxford
Honours exchange programme – University of Washington
2013 – 2016
Bachelor of Science (summa cum laude), major: biology & chemistry and minor: psychology – University College Utrecht
My DPhil project is supervised by Professor E.J. Milner-Gulland (University of Oxford), Dr. Rebecca J. Morris (University of Southampton) and Dr. Emilie Beauchamp (International Institute for Environment and Development).
My research is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).
2018 - BBSRC CGRF-IAA award to fund my fieldwork in Papua New Guinea
2017 - BBSRC CGRF-IAA award to fund my fieldwork in Papua New Guinea
2016 - Scatcherd European Scholarship & BBSRC Studentship to fund my DPhil project
2015 - Valedictorian of the Class 2015-½ at University College Utrecht
2014 - Dean’s List of the University of Washington
2012 - Short-listed for the Jan Kijne Research Award at Leiden University
Member of the British Ecological Society
Member of the British Society for Plant Pathology