COBRA Co-Director Jay Mistry wins £10 million Leverhulme Research Centre award

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We are thrilled to announce that our colleague Jay has been awarded a £10 million Leverhulme Trust grant to set up a new research centre on Wildfires, Environment and Society. Here is an extract of an interview Jay gave at Royal Holloway.

We understand that you and your colleagues have recently won £10 million funding in the 2018 Leverhulme Research Centre awards on a project for; Wildfires, Environment and Society. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

I’m so thrilled about this project! The Centre will be the first in the world to address wildfire challenges from a global and transdisciplinary perspective. It will bring together physical and social scientists to help understand the natural and human factors that drive fire so as to better prepare future generations to live sustainably with fire. I’ll be steering the work on Fire in the Tropics and I’m very excited to be leading cutting-edge research that will produce new data, tools and models to inform predictions and policy.

What is the Leverhulme Trust, and what is the importance of this award?

The Leverhulme Trust is a private, philanthropic grant-making foundation in the UK. This award is noteworthy in that it is one of three funded in 2018, providing long-term research support to multidisciplinary and international collaborations on a topic of global significance. As articulated by Professor Gordon Marshall, Director of the Trust: “Leverhulme Trust Research Centres are a major investment in discovery-led inquiry at a time when funding for fundamental scholarship is under great pressure. They are our vote-of-confidence in the quality of the UK’s outstanding researchers”.

What sort of impact do you hope to make from the research into wildfires, environment and society?

We hope to bring about a transformation in our scientific understanding of fire, its drivers, and its impacts thus leading to a new, transdisciplinary discipline of wildfire science, guided by original data, tools and models. However, as well as contributing to conceptual and quantitative modelling, we aim to provide decision support through the development of new capacity to predict the Earth’s future and better informed policies on wildfires and associated issues of air quality, climate, insurance, agriculture and biodiversity, to name a few!

Aside from working with the Leverhulme Centre, are you currently working on any other projects/research?

Underpinning all my research is the idea of bringing together different forms of knowledge for environmental governance. I currently have a project funded by the Darwin Initiative (DEFRA) that is looking at how to integrate traditional knowledge into conservation policy within Guyana. I’ve worked for almost two decades in Guyana with Indigenous groups, and this project uses participatory video methods to give voice and representation to Indigenous people on how their knowledge contributes to the conservation of protected areas and biodiversity. The project works with various government agencies as well as Indigenous associations, with the aim to produce a Traditional Knowledge National Action Plan for the country.

Outside of work do you have any hobbies or interests?

I am an exhibiting ceramic artist and recently completed my first academic qualification in the topic. I’m also passionate about growing food, and together with my husband, manage four allotments which enable us to be pretty self-sufficient in vegetables.

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Policy Specialist

Géraud holds a PhD in international development from the Open University (2016), with a focus on the critical impact of technology on individuals and communities. He uses his interest in social technology, design and storytelling to support community participation and empowerment. He has worked in public policy and strategy for a local government and currently leads the development of a new model for supporting civil society in East London whilst working on his own mobile app. He has presented his work at several international conferences and workshops, in Europe and in America.