SPG written interview: Dr Isabel Jones

The Scottish Policy Group (SPG) are Celebrating 10 Years! As part of our virtual celebrations were doing a series of blogs spotlighting the members of the SPG Committee. Up next is Dr Isabel Jones who is the SPG Chair and a Research Fellow at Stirling University.

Check out Izzy’s written interview below…

Dr Isabel Jones

Tell us about yourself? 

I’m Isabel (Izzy for short) and I’ve always had the goal of combining science and conservation work with my love of travel and extreme environments. I started out with a BSc.(hons.) in Environmental Biology from Plymouth University (2008) and then left academia for a few years to gain qualifications in expedition leadership and work in the outdoors industry. The science then called me back again! So I left working in the mountains to undertake a MRes. at Imperial College London, followed by a couple of internships, and then began my dream PhD studying the impacts of landscape scale habitat fragmentation and tropical forest regeneration, in the Brazilian Amazon and Panama… my MRes and PhD fieldwork married my love of conservation science with my love of wild and wonderful places and I’ve never looked back! After some brilliant experience as a postdoc working on human decision-making and natural resource use, and a maternity-cover lectureship, I am now a Research Fellow at the University of Stirling [https://www.stir.ac.uk/people/256518] (and of course have the honour of being Chair of the SPG!).

Fieldwork in Brazil

Tell us about your research/work and how that might intersect with policy?

As a Research Fellow (UKRI Future Leaders Fellow) I lead The Beacon Project, which works to understand and resolve trade-offs and conflicts between Sustainable Development Goals, using hydropower development as a model system. This is an interdisciplinary project working across the natural and social sciences and the humanities. I’m really interested in how high-level decisions and/or targets (such as the SDGs) translate to local-level actions; and how local social, political and environmental contexts can influence the outcomes of global targets and policies.

Tree Measuring in Panama

What do you get out of being on the SPG Committee?

I love working with such a fantastic group of people who share the same vision of improving links between ecologists and policy-makers (and who are always a huge amount of fun to be around, whether we’re in-person or in video calls!). I joined the SPG in 2015 with only basic understanding of how “policy works” in Scotland but by being part of the SPG I have been able to develop my knowledge, and through e.g. The Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme, gain insight into what life as a policy maker is like. I’ve also been able to build skills in developing and running events for scientists and policy-makers alike, which I wouldn’t necessarily have gained otherwise. Taking on the SPG Chair position is another learning curve now, and one which I’m really excited to be on as we’re in a time of potentially real positive change in terms of policy-making in Scotland and more widely.

If you had to pick a favorite project you have worked with SPG, what would it be?

It’s hard to choose! I always really enjoy the Pie and Pint events, but I have to say the workshop at the 2020 BES Festival of Ecology (check out a blog from this event here) is probably my favourite event to-date, and one that I am hugely proud of.