Centre for Rural Economy

Staff Profile

Dr Niki Rust

Research Associate

Background

I’m an environmental social scientist and a science communicator. I have over a decade's worth of experience as an environmental researcher working on diverse projects across the globe, from seabird monitoring in Malta to cheetah conservation in Namibia. With a PhD in Biodiversity Management and a decade of experience as a sustainability professional, I’m serious about helping to improve our planetary health. I am first and foremost a scientist but use evidence to support my communications and policy recommendations.

Skilled in strategic communications, I use the power of words and photos to engage, inspire and inform. My written communication portfolio spans academic publications such as journal articles and book chapters to press articles for the general public and science communication on Twitter. I have given oral evidence at the House of Commons, fed into multiple policy consultations and authored numerous policy briefings and letters to Ministers. I am a trained media spokesperson and some of my TV and radio interviews can be found here. I have provided training workshops to academics in effective science communication. Please do get in touch if you need to speak to a nature conservation expert or you are interested in receiving scicomm training.

 

Education:

  • PhD in Biodiversity Management, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, UK, 2012-2015
  • MSc in Conservation Biology, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, UK, 2010-2011
  • BSc in Zoology at Cardiff University, UK, 2002-2005

 

Career:

2019 onwards: Consultant, Luc Hoffmann Institute, UK

2018 onwards: Research Associate, Newcastle University, UK

2016-2018: Technical Adviser in Wildlife, WWF, UK

2016: Postdoctoral Researcher, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, USA

2015: Sustainability Science Manager, Compassion in World Farming, UK

2015: Systematic reviewer, International Institute for Environment and Development, UK

2014-present: Freelance journalist and science communicator

2011-2012: Ecologist, Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia

2009-2010: Conservation and Communications Associate, BirdLife Malta, Malta


Service to profession:

  • Strategic communications manager, IUCN's Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group, 2019
  • Chairman of the board of trustees for the Tulsi Foundation, 2018-present
  • Handling Editor at Conservation Biology2018-present 
  • Handling Editor at Journal of Population and Sustainability, 2018-present 
  • Member of Society for Conservation Biology' Social Science Working Group, 2014-present
  • Member of IUCN Species Survival Commission and the Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group, 2016-present 
  • Mentor of WWF staff, 2016-2018
  • Member of Society for Conservation Biology's Diets, Health and Conservation group, 2015-2018
  • Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime member, 2016-2018
  • Wildlife & Countryside Link ‘Wildlife Crime’ member, 2016-2018
  • Grant reviewer, British Ecological Society, 2016-2017
  • Pathways Human Dimensions of Wildlife Conference Adviser, 2014-2015
  • Board member, Waterberg Conservancy community-based conservation management, 2011 –2012
  • Board member, Namibian Protected Landscape Initiative (NAMPLACE), 2011 –2012
  • Board member, Large Carnivore Management Association of Namibia, 2011 – 2012

Research

At Newcastle University, I am working on a number of environmental projects including two large EU Horizon 2020 grants (Soilcare and SolAce) and a Defra Sustainable Intensification scoping study, which are all aiming to help improve the sustainability of food production. I am also working on two multi-stakeholder projects looking into how we can transition towards more sustainable diets.

Working across multiple European countries and with a wide variety of partners, I use qualitative and mixed-method participatory research approaches to understand the barriers and enablers for adopting more sustainable agricultural practices. Using a multi-actor approach, I’m involved in stakeholder engagement, communication and dissemination strategies to ensure the results of our research are locally applicable and acceptable.

My research interests and experience include:
  • sustainable agriculture and diets, 
  • socio-ecological systems, 
  • political ecology,
  • systems thinking,
  • human-wildlife conflict, 
  • legal and illegal wildlife trade,
  • carnivore conservation, 
  • community-based conservation, 
  • sustainable use of natural resources,
  • participatory methods,
  • science communication. 

I make sure my research is collaborative so that the end result is useful, applicable and is designed for full impact. Do get in touch if you'd like to work with me.

Teaching

I am a course lecturer on ACE8101 on Food Security, organised by Dr Julia Cooper.

I also provide ad hoc training via tailor-made workshops to staff, students and conservation professionals in a wide variety of subjects, including the following:

  • social science methods in conservation
  • carnivore conservation
  • human-wildlife conflict
  • Twitter for academics
  • science communication

Do get in touch if you'd like to discuss how I can assist with training you or yourr students on the above topics.

Publications