Marsh Award for Ecologists in Africa

The Marsh Award for Ecologists in Africa aims to celebrate the significant scientific achievements of African ecologists and raise their profile in the UK.

It is awarded for an outstanding current research record, largely completed in Africa, which is having a significant impact on the development of the science of ecology or its application.

The Award is used for a two week visit to the UK for the winner to make connections with UK ecologists and attend the BES Annual Meeting. Nominations are made via the British Ecological Society and are judged by a Nomination committee. More information can be found here

Paula Kahumbia 2021

Paula is currently the CEO of Kenya-based charity Wildlife Direct. She grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, and was first mentored by renowned conservationist Richard Leakey. She was then granted a scholarship from the Kenyan Government to study Ecology and Biology at the University of Bristol and then received her master’s degree at the University of Florida.

Paula and her team have launched the ‘Hands Off Our Elephants’ campaign that takes action against ivory poaching and work with the government and NGOs to reduce poaching by 80% over 5 years. She initiated another project called ‘Eyes in the Courtroom’ to monitor and report wildlife crime cases and produced and presented ‘Wildlife Warriors’, a TV series that shines a light on the work of African conservation heroes.

Previous Winners

Dr David Odee

David is a Senior Researcher at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI). He participates in workshops and courses that focus on forestry research. The KEFRI is a regionally and internationally recognised public research organisation which conducts interdisciplinary research both within the organisation and in collaboration with other partners in forestry and allied natural resources. The KEFRI plays a leading role in knowledge transfer, training, and capacity building of user-oriented research for sustainable development, while hosting and leading key international networks. The KEFRI has equipped laboratories and field facilities located in 5 regional centres which are sustainable for multi-site studies. 

Dr Esther Kioko

Esther is a senior research scientist and is Head of the Zoology Department at the National Museums of Kenya. She holds a PhD in Agricultural Entomology and a postgraduate Diploma in Applied Taxonomy. She has led and coordinated a number of multi-institutional projects including: Assessment of the Insects as food sources for improving food security, rural livelihoods and adaptation to climate change (2011-2015) and Developing incentives for community participation in forest conservation through the use of commercial insects in Kenya (2004-2009). She is also coordinating the National Museums of Kenya’s Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre funded project on the Zoological Survey of Kenya.

Esther is currently leading and coordinating a large project funded by the JRS Biodiversity Foundation that aims to assess Lepidoptera pollinator diversity in East Africa. In this region, a majority of subsistence and cash crops rely on insect pollination, but there is a dearth of information on status and trends in African pollinator biodiversity that supports agriculture, human health and biodiversity across the continent. The project that Esther is leading aims to quantify the diversity  and distribution of Lepidoptera pollinators by digitisation of the National Museums of Kenya’s collection from across East and Central Africa, dating from the colonial period to the present day. A key part of this project is capacity building, through mobilising historic data held in museum collections, as well as training the next generation of African pollinator scientists.

Dr Chabi Djagoun

Dr Chabi Djagoun is a wildlife conservation ecologist with over 10 years of professional experience in ecological research and conservation planning. Dr Djagoun’s research focuses on giving an efficient contribution to sustainable monitoring and management of ungulate species in Benin National Park. Using isotope ecology approaches, he has been working to elucidate possible nutritional stress, competition, and loss of functional habitat as factors limiting recovery of rare antelope in Benin national parks, with further research goals focused on devising management and conservation strategies.

Dr Djagoun has conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and at the University of Rostock, in Germany. He is Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin. His work experiences have yielded more than 20 peer-review articles, both as first author or co-author, mainly in world class journals. He has also been given the opportunity to present his works to more than 20 national and international conferences. Dr Djagoun was nominated as young affiliate to The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) in 2014.