Birds, bees and food: building sustainable agriculture with Niki Rust

We’re heading over toIMG_2626 the UK to meet our next curator, Dr Niki Rust (@nikirust ), Research Associate at Newcastle University.



How did Niki end up in science? 

Kind of by accident! I have had a passion ever since I was a teeny little kid about wanting to make the world a better place, especially for the furry creatures we share this planet with. Initially I wanted to be a vet but decided on wildlife conservation because I wanted to protect wild animals. I got into science because it seemed like it would be a good way to get a decent conservation job!


I am an environmental social scientist because I realised early on in life that in order to help make the world a better place we need to understand people – it is, after all, us pesky humans that keep doing things like burning fossil fuels and cutting down rain forests after all! After seeing the 80’s cartoon Captain Planet I decided that I wanted to be an environmentalist to help protect this lovely planet, given it’s the only one we’ve got!


Just two months ago I moved from WWF back into academia. I’m now working on a couple of large EU projects that are testing some really cool innovations on 32864682_10160320197150114_5089535262212489216_nfarms to make agriculture in Europe more sustainable. Agriculture remains one of the greatest threats to biodiversity due to habitat loss and is also a large emitter of carbon. I truly believe that in order to help make the world a better place we need to tackle how we produce (and consume) food.


Well, we all live on planet earth and we all need the resources it provides to survive. From the bees that pollinate crops to the earthworms that help our food grow, we need nature every single day. I‘m working to make the way we produce food more sustainable so that people, wildlife and the planet benefits.


I work part-time as a freelance journalist and love to promote researchers’ work in the press. I write for the BBC, Guardian, New Scientist and others. Alongside my writing, I’m also a trainer in science communication. I share tips, advice and experience with students and staff so that they can increase engagement of their research with the general public.


I have a massive tabby cat called The General who I adopted from the RSPCA. He helped me get through my PhD! I’m also a fan of tattoos – in fact I recently got one of my cat 🙂


For the Ideal Day Off: I’d ask our local dog rescue if we can take some dogs for a walk for the day and go with my friends and boyfriend out into the countryside of Northumberland to go for a big long hike in nature. We’d have a lovely vegan picnic and I’d take some pics!


Welcome Niki!

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