Joshua Wambugu, PhD candidate (2019)

Joshua is a tourism and conservation leader with over 10 years’ experience and holds a BSc. degree in Tourism Management from Moi University, Kenya which he completed in 2009, and proceeded to seek professional working experience in the field of tourism and nature conservation. He completed his MSc. degree in Tourism, Society, and Environment at Wageningen University and Research (WUR), The Netherlands in 2019, under a scholarship from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs through the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP). His Master’s research focused on conservation finances, particularly on understanding the policy arrangements and financial flows for payment for environmental services. Part of his research, Joshua traveled back to Kenya in December 2017 to Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley to investigate the Equitable Payment for Watershed Services (EPWS), a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) program in the Lake Naivasha Basin.

Prior to his master’s study at WUR, Joshua worked as an Assistant Fellow in planning and coordination of the annual Fundamental of Ornithology course organized by Nature Kenya in-conjunction with conservation and research-based organizations in 2010. Later he worked with Birdwatching East Africa as a birding tour consultant and field guide, Nature Kenya (East Africa Natural History Society) as an Arboretum Education officer under the Friends of Nairobi Arboretum project, and lastly as a Tourism Education officer at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Laikipia County. His main role as an education officer was to develop the conservation education and outreach program and its facilitation. Joshua is experienced with fundraising for conservation projects and has received several grants from Rufford Foundation (Rufford Small Grants), Earthwatch Institute Shulman Award (for emerging scientists) both for conservation education projects, and Professional Development Grants (PDGs) under WWF Russell E. Train Education for Nature program. His work has enabled him to gain professional experience while working in multi-cultural environments in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, UK, and the Netherlands.

Joshua is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Marine Animal Ecology Group, Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands. His Ph.D. research focuses on the societal aspects of the coral reef restoration in Shimoni, South Coast of Kenya. His principal supervisors are Prof. Tinka Murk, Dr. Machiel Lamers, Dr. Ronald Osinga, and Dr. David Obura. His qualitative research approach will allow him to investigate the socio-economic and ecological impacts of the coral reef restoration, alternative sustainable livelihoods (ecotourism), and ecosystem services from the marine environments. Joshua is neither a marine ecologist nor a biologist, but he is enthusiastic and passionate to interact and learn from the renowned marine scientists in the region by establishing good links with them for the success of his research. He is currently training in acquiring his open water diving license. Besides his research work, Joshua loves cooking, birdwatching, traveling, off-road cycling, and he is an amateur photographer.

Juliet Furaha Karisa,  PhD (2014 - )

Juliet is a researcher at Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) and is currently studying for her PhD at the Academia Sinica, supported by a scholarship from its Biodiversity Research Center. Her PhD research focuses on identifying and testing suitable indicators of coral reef resilience that can be collected in conjunction with coral reef monitoring. Her principle supervisors are Dr. Allen Chen and Dr. David Obura and she conducts most of her work on coral reefs along the Kenyan coast. By periodically assessing coral reef biodiversity and regularly monitoring coral reefs’ health, her work allows for timely identification of coral reef areas that are getting degraded and therefore it aides in making management decisions such as restoration. Her aim is to develop primary indicators for monitoring of coral reef resilience. She has gained a wide experience in coral reef research by actively contributing to projects run by renowned institutions such as; The Nature Conservancy (TNC), World Wildlife Fund  (WWF), Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) on Biodiversity, Coastal Oceans Research and Development – Indian Ocean (CORDIO) East Africa, East African Wildlife Society (EAWS) and Kenya Wildlife Society (KWS). And during these engagements, she has had the opportunity to partner, interact and learn from prominent marine scientists in the region.

Juliet completed her BSc. in Fisheries and Aquatic Science at Moi University, Kenya, and received an MSc degree also from Moi University in 2008, with a scholarship from the World Bank Coral Reef Targeted Research project, through CORDIO East Africa. Her Masters research focused on the spatial and temporal patterns of coral recruitment, with the aim of understanding the recovery of Kenyan coral communities that had suffered significant mortality during the 1997/98 mass coral bleaching. During this period of her study, she moved to Sweden as an exchange student where she did her course work at Linkoping University. After receiving her MSc she worked at CORDIO EA under an IUCN project on Climate Change and Coral Reefs (CCCR) where she participated in an extensive coral reef survey on resilience assessments along the Kenyan coast. She thereafter worked with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) where she is mostly involved with monitoring and biodiversity assessments of coral reefs, feeding directly into the management of coral reefs in Kenya.


Benjamin Cowburn, PhD (2015-)

Benjo completed his PhD in Zoology at Oxford University in 2015 which included research in Watamu Marine National Park in Kenya. Working with A Rocha Kenya, a local environmental NGO, he conducted research on biodiversity, health and tourism threats to the marine communities in the park. He has also studied the impacts of coral bleaching to reef resilience in Kenya and other locations in the Indian Ocean, including Mozambique, Djibouti, Maldives and Sumatra. Currently based in the UK, he is continuing to focus on coral bleaching, the ecological resilience of reefs and how these principals can inform sustainable use and conservation management. Alongside his work with CORDIO, he is also a research fellow with the IUCN’s Maldives programme. In addition to his main research he has a personal interest in marine fish photography and identification

Julie Church,  MSc (2008-)

Julie has worked with CORDIO East Africa as a researcher and conservationist since 1998. She has worked in marine protected area management and training, integrated coastal zone management, species of special concern, coral reef and fisheries research, management and conservation since the mid/late 1990s, in East Africa, elsewhere in the Western Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific.

As part of her conservation ethos in 2005, Julie founded Ocean Sole – the Flipflop Recycling Company (initially Uniqueco Designs) and its Foundation to help raise awareness through trade of the plight of the oceans, their species, fisheries, habitats and ecosystems. This is gaining global recognition with over 35 outlets in Zoos and Aquariums in the USA, and buyers in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, UK, Germany and of course East Africa. The company is currently recycling over 1000 kg of flipflops per week from beaches and waterways in East Africa. The Foundation has led marine conservation and debris education courses in East Africa, encouraged national beach clean up efforts for the international beach clean up day in Kenya and Tanzania, and initiated flipflop beading training courses targeting women along the coast of Kenya and Tanzania.

Her work with CORDIO has more recently been to assist with the global marine heritage initiative of 2012 and the Mangrove for Future initiative for Eastern Africa 2013. Her particular areas of experience are linking business and conservation, using trade based solutions to marine issues and using her global connections to make a difference. She also has extensive experience in marine protected area management and training, species of special concern, fish spawning aggregations and bringing awareness to the oceans through trade of marine debris.

Julie’s MPhil degree is from the University of Capetown after completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Sussex, England. Julie founded the Kibodo Trust and is a Trustee of the Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Trust and keen member of numerous marine organisations: East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS), Society for the Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations (SCRFA) and Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA).

Hussein Alidina,  MSc (2009-)

Hussein is presently a Senior Specialist in Ocean Conservation at WWF-Canada. In his current role, Hussein bridges science, policy and management to improve conservation outcomes. He develops and supports work related to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Marine Spatial Planning, Ecosystem Based Management, Fisheries Certification, Climate Adaptation and Priority Species Conservation. He engages various multi-stakeholder processes and advisory bodies and represented conservation sector interests and perspectives in resource management planning. He has worked on projects spanning all three of Canada’s oceans as well as supported programs in Chile and Cuba. As a native of East Africa, Hussein has taken up assignments there that have included running a community-based fisheries program, engaging coastal fisheries management and policy and providing analysis for watershed planning. He was previously based as CORDIO East Africa and maintains an Associate position through which he periodically supports projects. Hussein holds a B.Sc. in Environmental & Resource Science, a Graduate Certificate in GIS Applications and an Interdisciplinary Master’s degree in Marine Management. In his spare time Hussein is an avid hiker, touring cyclist, kayaker and enjoys volunteering on various local and community initiatives.

Hussein worked at CORDIO from 2005-2007 in fisheries and policy issues and established our GIS system through obtaining a software grant from ESRI.

Select publications:

Okey, T. A., Alidina, H. M. & Agbayani, S. (2015). Mapping ecological vulnerability to recent climate change in Canada’s Pacific marine ecosystems. Ocean & Coastal Management, 106, 35–48. doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2015.01.009

Okey, T. A., Alidina, H. M., Lo, V., & Jessen, S. (2014). Effects of climate change on Canada’s Pacific marine ecosystems: a summary of scientific knowledge. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 24(2), 519–559. doi:10.1007/s11160-014-9342-1

Ban, N.C., Alidina, H.M. & Ardron, J.A., (2010). Cumulative Impact Mapping: Advances, Relevance and Limitations to Marine Management and Conservation, using Canada’s Pacific Waters as a Case Study. Marine Policy, 34(5), 876–886.

Smith, J., M. Patterson, H. M. Alidina and J. Ardron. 2009. Criteria and Tools for Designing Ecologically Sound Marine Protected Area Networks in Canada’s Marine Regions. WWF-Canada.

Alidina, H.M. (2006). External Influences on Traditional Fishing Communities in Southern Kenya – a call for socially responsible agents of change to facilitate adaptation and prevent extinction. Wajibu 21(4): 12-15.

Alidina, H.M. (2005). Local Level Fisheries Management in Diani-Chale, Kenya: Current Status and Future Directions. Coastal Management, 33(4), pp.459–470. doi:10.1080/08920750500217997.

Alidina, H. M., Gerhartz, J. L, Areces, A., and Duthit. R. (2005). Using Systematic Marine Protected Area Planning to Assess the Existing Coverage MPAs on the Insular Shelf of Cuba. Proceedings of the International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC 1), Geelong, Australia.

Alidina, H. M. (2003). Economic Instruments and Water Conservation: Some potential tools for managing water use and their applicability to Lake Naivasha, Kenya. A submission made to the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association. 

Sarah Ater, MEd (2013-)
Sarah has fond memories of the art room in Boma and though not quite what you’d consider an artist, an ardent consumer of the ‘art stuff’. A practicing environmental educator who has worked with students, teachers, women and fishermen; she’s a great believer in the potential of empowered people. Having finally come to terms with her role as a teacher (a title she disliked as there were too many teachers around her as she grew up) she has embraced both a teaching and learning role in EE exploring participatory education and outreach techniques.

Being a keen user of thinking skills strategies Sarah’s research interests include investigating what people know about the environment and how they relate to that knowledge. A straight-talking, non-conventional person, she is keen to try out new ideas whether when implementing EE or playing with her hyperactive sons. She holds an MEd (International Development and Education) and Bachelor of Environmental Studies.

Nige Hussey, PhD (2014- )

Nigel Hussey is a leading expert on the application of chemical tracers such as stable isotopes and telemetry in the study of the ecological role of elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays). Nigel completed an undergraduate degree in Ecology/Geology at Kingston University, London and later following an initial career as an English Language teacher, returned to complete an MSc in Marine Environmental Protection (with distinction) and a PhD in Marine Ecology at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, UK. He now has >15 years experience of working with sharks, skates and rays and has worked on a diversity of species in environments ranging from the ice lands of the high Arctic to the desert of the Sudanese Red Sea, Australia, The Bahamas, Mozambique, Kenya, Southern Africa, Chagos and most recently Ascension Island in the central Atlantic. Over the last 6 years he has published over 50 peer reviewed scientific papers including those in Nature, Ecology Letters and Science. Nigel is currently an Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Windsor, Canada and leads the Arctic program for the Global Ocean Tracking Network and the Red Sea Elasmobranch Conservation Program for the Cousteau Society. He has been working as an Associate with CORDIO in Kenya since 2014 to develop a regional elasmobranch conservation research program which included the first satellite tagging of tiger sharks off the Watamu Banks. His current research is focused on combining telemetry tools with chemical tracers to examine the movement and trophic ecology of elasmobranchs to better understand their role in aquatic ecosystems and how species interactions structure marine food webs. This research examines individual, community and ecosystem level processes with the principal aim of providing data for effective conservation and management strategies.



Denis Macharia,  MSc (2014-)


is an Environmental and Geospatial scientist who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and has professional experience and qualifications in geospatial technologies. He is currently a registered Masters Student at the University of Nairobi pursuing a Master of Climate Change. Denis currently works with the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), a Centre of Excellence established by the UN-Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Africa Union. Initially as the institution’s Disasters Program lead, Denis has progressed to the role of a Thematic Lead in Climate, Weather and Disasters at SERVIR.

SERVIR is a science based partnership program between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USAID and regional hubs of excellence across the globe.

Prior to his engagement with RCMRD and SERVIR, he worked with CORDIO East Africa as a junior research scientist. His main roles at CORDIO were under the IUCN Climate Change and Coral Reefs Program and the MASMA funded WIO Core Biodiversity project where he maintained a data collection and spatial analysis database for the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) and doubled-up as the Geospatial Information Science administrator. He also worked under the fisheries program where he assisted with data collection and spatial analysis of fisheries and socio-economic data. He has scuba-dived in some of the best coral reefs in the WIO region. Denis has worked in multi-country and multi-cultural environments since 2009. He has an accumulating regional experience working in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and the Indian Ocean Islands.

Denis works with international experts in Africa, Asia, Europe and the USA. He regularly engages himself in public speaking where he shares his experiences in the work he does including talks in public forums for policy makers, technical experts and college students. His hobbies include swimming, scuba-diving, off-road cycling, traveling and performing arts.

His current research interests are in understanding how humans affect and manage the environment, and in turn, how environmental variability and change affect the society at local, national and regional scales.