Sam Jones – Current Occupation: Ornithologist/tropical ecologist, currently undertaking his PhD at Royal Holloway University of London
An avid birder and naturalist from childhood, Sam has wide-ranging field experience across six continents, primarily in remote biodiversity assessment expeditions in montane tropical forests and studying the basic ecology of poorly known and threatened birds. Sam is the senior ornithologist for Operation Wallacea’s longstanding cloud-forest monitoring programme in Honduras. Sam is dedicated to the communication of natural history, producing recent content for the BBC Natural History Unit (BBC Radio 4) and Scientific American.
What is the biggest impact that Explore had (or continues to have) on you?
For me, having specific time set aside each year to be able to garner the time and opinions of some of the most experienced people in the expedition world certainly had an influence on me being awarded this year’s Neville Shulman challenge award by the RGS-IBG. It’s been said time and time again, but I think it’s a wonderful thing that people of all levels of experience can queue up for the bar and strike up conversation with one another. In my experience, there is a unique atmosphere at Explore that removes hierarchical barriers and nurtures sharing of ideas.
If you were/are planning an expedition or field research project today, what emerging topics, or objective would you focus your attention on?
My efforts are focused on biological assessments of poorly studied tropical regions and poorly known birds. The wealth of unknowns in tropical biodiversity are truly vast and not communicated enough despite large tracts of the worlds tropics having never been studied – anything addressing this has merit. More than ever, the footprint of research in-country is so important and projects that combine scientific study, capacity building and local empowerment are a recipe for long-term success. To this end, I’d point anyone reading this towards Andrew Mack’s excellent book, Searching for Pekpek: Cassowaries and Conservation in the New Guinea Rainforest, for an inspirational read.