Jessica Nosizwe Thorn

NEF Fellow

Jessica Nosizwe Thorn

Area of Research:
University of York
Einstein Challenge:

Working in South, East and West Africa, Jessica uses social-ecological system modeling and participatory scenario planning of diverse, plausible futures to investigate and measure the expected and possible impacts of development corridors in land use change, livelihoods, ecosystem services, and social coherence.

Jessica is a Namibian ecologist with a background in human geography, holding a “Climate Research 4 Development” and “African Women in Climate Change” Fellowships at the African Climate and Development Initiative of the University of Cape Town. She is also a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of York in the Department of Environment and Geography, and is affiliated to the University of Nairobi, Colorado State University, and African Conservation Centre. She uses probabilistic social-ecological modelling and scenario analysis to measure impacts of development on land use change. Currently, Jessica is working on an ESRC-funded collaborative capacity building project, using participatory scenario planning to measure potential impacts of Chinese foreign direct investment in transportation corridors in East Africa. She is also leading an IDRC and CR4D-funded project predicting the synergies and trade-offs of ecological infrastructure in peri-urban areas. Most recently, she assessed the potential impact of climatic and demographic change on local actor decisions and land use in mountain social-ecological systems, and biodiversity and ecosystem services in smallholder agricultural landscapes. She completed her BSocSci(Hons) at UCT, MSc and DPhil at Oxford, and postdoctoral studies at Colorado State University and ETH Zurich.

Jessica has been involved in various NSF, NERC, NRF, DFID, CGAIR, IDRC, ESRC, and USAID funded projects, conducting field research in Nepal, India, China, Vietnam, Tanzania, Namibia, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Switzerland and Peru.  Professional activities have been affiliated with the UN (e.g., Environment Programme and International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction), governments (e.g., South Africa, Ghana), NGOs (e.g., Conservation International, WWF), working closely with local stakeholders across sectors and scales to generate new information. She has similarly conducted research for the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security, Centre for International Forestry Research, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, Cambridge, Oxford, London School of Economics, and Brown University.

Jessica sits on advisory boards for five CBOs, is an elected member of the Global Environmental Facility, has advocated for ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and UNFCCC COP, and is a contributing author to The Economic of Ecosystems and Biodiversity reports. She has taught courses in Global Biodiversity Trade and Indigenous Communities, Field Ecology, Wildland Ecosystems, Forestry, Urban Geography, Global Challenges for the 21st Century, and Cities of the South.