Room number: Vondellaan 55, Leiden
““Outreach for Biodiversity Conservation””
I am a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher (ESR) from Georgia within the Pontocaspian Biodiversity Rise and Demise Program (PRIDE). My major responsibilities in the PRIDE Program are: (1) Establishing and maintaining web-based experimental interfaces for PRIDE datasets, models and databases as main data depository, dissemination, interactive modeling, and communication platform and (2) Establishing an effective communication strategy for policy makers, NGO’s, and the general public through stakeholder analyses. The resulting communication strategy will be used to design the Pontocaspian Information System PC-IS interface to allow stakeholders to retrieve relevant information and perform simplified model simulations of biotic responses to various global climate and environmental change scenarios.
I completed my Bachelor of Science degree at the Tbilisi State University, Georgia in the Department of Exact and Natural Sciences with a major in Biology. Afterwards, I pursued my Master's studies in the Munich Graduate School for Evolutionary Genomics, Ecology and Systematics at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich. For my master’s thesis I worked in the aquatic ecology department under the supervision of Prof. Herwig Stibor and Dr. Gabriele Trommer, researching the impacts of additional, anthropogenic nitrogen deposition on the plankton communities in Upper Bavarian lake ecosystems. After successful completion of my master’s studies I returned back to my country and joined the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia. In the Ministry I applied for the German government program “Migration for Development” and became a CIM (Centre for International Migration and Development) Returning Expert under the GIZ, working for sustainable development. Particularly, I worked for public awareness raising for the first one year at the Legal Entity of Public Law (LEPL) Environmental Information and Education Centre of the Ministry and later I moved to the Service of Biodiversity Protection where I was coordinating the National Biodiversity Monitoring System of Georgia (NBMS).
My research interests have always been oriented on evolutionary biology, biogeography and global change ecology however, working in the Ministry gave me slightly different perspectives on my future career pursuits.
Working at a decision making agency, especially at the Service of Biodiversity Protection granted me the opportunity of getting familiar with decision making processes, and how different conventions or agreements between the countries work. Also, I had an opportunity of regularly attending the meetings with scientific institutions and NGOs on the implementation of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan of Georgia (NBSAP) and taking part in the priority setting and strategic planning. On the other hand I worked at the LEPL 'Environmental Information and Education Centre' on implementation of the Aarhus Convention in Georgia and public awareness raising on different environmental topics. This enlightened me on the importance of information sharing and public participation in decision making processes. These experiences have broadened my scope and changed my views. So, currently I am very much interested in understanding the complex nature of science-policy and science-society interfacing for biodiversity protection. Particularly, understanding how the system works to reach the common goal, what are the shortcomings, solutions for those shortcomings and the role of science communication and outreach in resolving the biodiversity conservation related issues.
Keywordsoutreach, science-policy and science-society interfacing, biodiversity conservation
Current research topics
Within the PRIDE Program:
(1) Social network structure analyses behind the conservation organisations, academia and the government in Ukraine and Romania for understanding the social context of biodiversity related environmental issues.
(2) Environmental policy analyses in Ukraine and in Romania for understanding the current legal framework for Pontocaspian biodiversity protection.
(3) Researching public awareness on biodiversity in Ukraine and Romania for establishing the baseline conditions and exploring successful ways of practicing the citizen science in these two countries.
For answering my research questions I work in close collaboration with partners of the PRIDE program and also with the stakeholders.
Prof. Dr. Vitaliy V. Anistratenko – NASU I. I. Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology, Kiev, Ukraine.
Ms. Natalia Gozak – WWF Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine.
Dr. M. (Mikhail) Son - Institute of Marine Biology, Odessa, Ukraine.
I am establishing collaborations with:
Ms. Cătălina Murariu - WWF Romania, Bucharest, Romania.
Prof. Dr. J.C. (Koos) Biesmeijer
Dr. N. (Niels) Raes
Dr. F.P. (Frank) Wesselingh
CoursesAvailable student projects
Give presentations about PRIDE Project and PRIDE research to the identified stakeholder groups in Ukraine, Romania, Azerbaijan (http://www.pontocaspian.eu/blog/outreach-ukraine-6-june-18-june-2016).
Developed and maintain the PRIDE Taxonomic platform (PC-Tax) under the supervision of Dr. N. (Niels) Raes (http://mollusca.myspecies.info/).
Work together with WWF Ukraine and WWF Romania on citizen science and environmental awareness raising, using the PRIDE Leaflet that we developed (link). We target the school and University students, visitors of the Natural History Museums and the Protected Area visitor centers, active citizens, and volunteers through the WWF social networks.