Nicholas Worsfold

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Nicholas Worsfold
University of Sheffield

I graduated from King's College London in 2002 and began my PhD at the University of
Sheffield in October 2003. My research is motivated by the desire to understand the causes and consequences of extinction and the mechanisms behind the maintenance of biodiversity. I believe that the application of ecological knowledge will become increasingly important for the conservation of biodiversity and that testing and developing ecological theory is a crucial aspect of future conservation. Ecological knowledge is the most important tool in overcoming political, economic and public inertia regarding the protection of ecosystems. Ecologists must take responsibility for making clear the implications of ecological research to the public and to policy makers. I was recently awarded a grant that enabled me to spend three months working for the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, preparing a briefing paper for Members of Parliament in order to inform and facilitate debate. The paper detailed the current fate of wildlife on agricultural land in the UK, examined the options available for farmers to be rewarded for wildlife conservation and explored the implications of future changes to European Union agricultural subsidies. Following the publication of the briefing paper, I helped arrange a meeting between Members of Parliament, academics, environmental agencies and farmers. The most striking feature of my time working for the UK Parliament was the clear desire for environmental policy to be underpinned by good, solid science. Ecologists must become better at interacting with policy makers if this is to occur. I have enjoyed working as a teaching assistant during undergraduate classes and field courses throughout my PhD. I regularly interact with Masters' students in our lab and I have been responsible for teaching research skills to groups of undergraduate students. Finding a novel way to explain a complex idea to students is very rewarding and I hope that teaching will be an important part of my intended academic career. I am involved in encouraging high school students from all backgrounds to consider a degree in the ecological sciences by presenting the fundamentals of my research during university open days. I believe that giving high school students an early experience of what universities can offer is an important part of raising their expectations and achievement and I hope to encourage this throughout my career.

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