Alumna receives award for shark conservation work

Thursday 01 September 2022

Hollie Booth (Balliol 2019) has received the European Early Career Conservation Award from the SCB Europe Section at the 21st European Congress of Conservation Biology, for her ‘extraordinary contributions to the conservation of sharks and rays while also protecting coastal livelihoods, through applied interdisciplinary research to inform conservation action’.

Hollie Booth on her Balliol graduation day (photo: Stuart Bebb).

Hollie recently completed a DPhil in Zoology, in which she focused on applying methods from social sciences and economics to inform behavioural and structural interventions for marine megafauna conservation, with a particular focus on endangered sharks and rays. A large component of her research focused on developing market- and incentive-based approaches to marine conservation, and novel financing mechanisms — for example, exploring how performance-based payments could help to deliver biodiversity and human wellbeing outcomes in small-scale fisheries; and how marine tourism levies could be leveraged to cover the opportunity costs of conservation for coastal communities and thus support more just and equitable marine conservation. She wrote about her work for Floreat Domus 2020 and she has published a summary of her research findings.

Hollie says she is ‘super-grateful’ to have received the award. It comes hard on the heels of her graduation day in August — another proud moment for her and her family, especially as she is the first generation in her family to go to university. As a ‘working class teenager’, she explains, she took her GSCEs at a struggling state school that had failed its OFSTED report. When a teacher suggested she should think about applying to Oxbridge for university, she thought: ‘Surely I wouldn’t fit in. People like us don’t go to places like that. I didn’t know anyone in my family/friendship group who had been to any university, let alone Oxbridge.’ But after attending a Sutton Trust summer school in physics, she started to believe she could be ‘someone who made a meaningful difference’ and she went on to get a first-class degree at Cambridge, before coming to Balliol for her DPhil.

Hollie is now working as Nature Positive Senior Specialist at the Biodiversity Consultancy, a global provider of strategic, technical and policy services for biodiversity management in the private and public sectors. In this role she is continuing to collaborate with her PhD research group — the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS) — as a Research Associate, to develop novel concepts and methods to achieve societal goals for nature. She also continues to work with small-scale fishers in Indonesia through her project Kebersamaan Untuk Lautan (Togetherness for the Sea), which is based on her PhD research.