Thomas Pienkowski

In the last 10 years, I’ve worked in both conservation research and practice. I am interested in the public health implications of environmental conservation, particularly in relation to subjective and mental aspects of health. During the last 10 years I’ve worked between academia and conservation practice. I have a particular interest in the emerging field of planetary health, which will be the focus of my DPhil research at the ICCS.

My research focuses on the intersection between environmental change and public health, and how conservation mediates this relationship.


Humans and wildlife share many of the same spaces. This can bring people and wildlife into contact in many ways. The direct consequences of this contact – like crop raiding by elephants – are well recognised. However, much less attention has been paid to indirect impacts, such as the psychological consequences of living alongside wildlife. My research will explore how human-primate interactions influence peoples’ mental health through several mechanisms, including zoonotic disease transmission. This will help illustrate unexplored impacts of environmental protection on people and guide efforts for more fair and successful conservation. Moreover, understanding how ecosystems interact with mental and subjective aspects of health may help support a more holistic approach towards planetary health.

Read more about my research here


2016–17 | Research Assistant at the BioEcon Lab - National University of Singapore | Leading projects including exploring relationships between conservation, forests and human health in Cambodia.  

2015–16 | 'No Exploitation' Project Officer at The Forest Trust | Coordinating the implementation of Responsible Stone Programme work plans improving working conditions in China and India. 

2012-15 | MSc. Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management at the Central European University, Lund University & University of Manchester.

2012–13 | Head Development Officer at Ya’axché Conservation Trust | Management of integrated landscape management project development and funding.

2008-12 | BSc. Environmental Conservation at Bangor University of Wales 

2010–11 | Visiting Researcher at University of the West Indies | Investigating the economic importance of an invasive species within a Jamaican artisan fishery. 

2010–11 | Research Assistant at Bangor University of Wales | Assisted developing of a bio-economic model exploring illegal harvest of xaté palm in Central America.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership scholarship, supervised by Professor Milner-Gulland (University of Oxford) and Dr. Aidan Keane (University of Edinburgh).


2018 - Training and Travel Grant 2018 | British Ecological Society

2017 - NERC DTP award | 4 year DPhil scholarship at the University of Oxford.

2014 - CEU MA Research Grant & Lydia Press Memorial Fund | Thesis Research grant.

2013 - Erasmus Mundus Scholarship | scholarship for the Masters of Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management Program.

2013 - MESPOM Consortium Tuition Waiver | A tuition waiver to pursue a Masters of Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management Program.

2012 - SENRGy Prize for Highest Honors Project Mark | Award for the best BSc. final year Honors project.2014 - CEU MA Research Grant & Lydia Press Memorial Fund for masters thesis research.

2013 - Erasmus Mundus Scholarship – Category B and MESPOM Consortium Tuition Waiver scholarship to conduct a Masters in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management.

2012 - SENRGy Prize for Highest Honours Project Mark


Pienkowski, T., Dickens, B.L., Sun, H., & Carrasco, L.R. 2018. Linking forests, deforestation, and nutritional outcomes: An observational study in nine African countries. The Lancet Planetary Health, 2(meeting abstract S4).

Pienkowski T, Dickens BL, Sun H, Carrasco LR. 2017. Empirical evidence of the public health effects of tropical forest conservation. Lancet Planetary Health, 1(5): e180-e187.

Papworth S, Rao M, Oo MM, Latt KT, Tizard R, Pienkowski T, Carrasco LR. 2017. The impact of gold mining and agricultural concessions on the tree cover and local communities in northern Myanmar. Scientific Reports, 7: 46594.

Prospere K, McLaren K, Pienkowski T, & Wilson BS 2016. Assessing the status of an artisanal shrimp fishery in a Ramsar wetland in Jamaica: The effects of extreme La Niña episodes, elevated temperature and seasonality on landings. Limnologica, 59: 140–154.

Pienkowski T, Williams S, McLaren K, Wilson B, & Hockley N. 2015. Alien invasions and livelihoods: Economic benefits of invasive Australian Red Claw crayfish in Jamaica. Journal of Ecological Economics, 112: 68-77.


British Ecological Society