Meet the team

Creating actionable research on climate change risks

Christopher Trisos 

Director and Senior Researcher

Christopher Trisos directs the Climate Risk Lab at the African Climate and Development Initiative. The lab integrates data and methods from environmental and social sciences to help inform rapid, just and equitable responses to the climate crisis. Current research questions include whether ecological disruption from climate change will be gradual or abrupt, how climate change impacts the prevalence of infectious disease, whether solar geoengineering increases climate change risks, and how to manage risk across interconnected social and environmental systems.

Dr. Trisos is a coordinating lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 6th Assessment Report, responsible for Chapter 9 of Working Group II, African Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. He has also consulted on climate change adaptation for the World Bank. Dr Trisos spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center at University of Maryland, where his research focused on biodiversity and climate change. He earned a doctorate in Zoology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. His research is funded by a Future Leader–African Independent Research (FLAIR) Fellowship from the Royal Society and the African Academy of Sciences.

Nick Simpson

Researcher

Nick Simpson is a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab and the Chapter Scientist for Chapter 9 Africa Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability of the 6th Assessment of the IPCC. Nick’s current research concentrates on the complexity of climate risk, how everyday African’s perceive climate change, energy poverty/access, and security practices at the interface of climate change and conflict.

Nick’s previous research has extended security studies to the governance of new Anthropocene risks / harms, such as the Cape Town drought. Nick was also the first to establish theoretical and practice ready consilience between the capabilities approach and environmental assessment. His PhD concentrated on participatory sustainable decision-making. Nick’s research aims to support the creation and improvement of livelihoods and small businesses for those at the highest environmental and economic risk. His work with Tearfund (UK) has identified design principles that inform the conceptualization and evaluation of projects to aid in the replication of emerging sustainability-orientated work for humanitarian NGOs. Their latest collaboration concentrates on off-grid low carbon energy and credit solutions in Africa for informal and marginalized communities.

Joanne Bentley

Researcher

Joanne Bentley is a postdoctoral research fellow. Dr Bentley’s research project concentrates on improving our ability to anticipate climate change risks to biodiversity, and use this knowledge to design better biodiversity conservation strategies. Dr Bentley received her PhD from University of Cape Town for research focused on the differences in compounds produced by a desiccation-tolerant plant across an environmental gradient and the use of green chemistry as an alternative to conventional toxic solvents. Her previous postdoc work profiled the metabolomes of two plant species with different desiccation-tolerance strategies. She was awarded the South African Association of Botanists medal for best PhD in 2019.

Andreas Meyer

Researcher

Andreas Meyer is a postdoctoral research fellow. He is a biologist broadly interested in macroecology, macroevolution, and primate conservation. His research focuses on several aspects of these topics, including patterns of biodiversity, diversification rates, niche evolution, and species responses to global change. His current research project aims to assess the extent to which African biodiversity is at risk from climate change and provide appropriate guidance for the development of mitigation strategies. Andreas has a PhD in Zoology from Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil, with a stay at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, USA. Andreas is also part of the project Global Patterns of Primate Conservation, which brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines to examine the drivers of primate population decline, model future scenarios for primate conservation, and present solutions to protect primate species.

Carina Wessels

MSc Researcher

Carina enjoyed her career as a professional photographer for nearly 10 years before she decided she wanted to achieve even more in life. Carina is an MSc student in climate change and development. Her research focuses on climate change risks to wild plant species that are harvested for food and that can provide essential nutrition to rural communities when staple crops fail due to drought. Carina graduated from Stellenbosch University with a BSc Hons Biodiversity and Ecology degree.

Luckson Zvobgo

PhD researcher

Luckson is a PhD student in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at University of Cape Town. He is research is on adaptation to climate variability using local and indigenous knowledge practices for smallholder farmers under rain-fed agriculture in semi-arid regions. He is also interested in water resources governance and development, and actively participated in the development of Zimbabwe Water Policy. Luckson is an intern assisting the IPCC 6th Assessment Report and is a consultant in the fields of environmental management and water resources development with huge capital projects completed in Zimbabwe and Namibia.