Dave Abson

Dave Abson

Please briefly comment why you chose Leeds for Postgraduate Research Degree Study.

The Sustainability Research Institute is one of the few interdisciplinary environmental research centres in the UK and it had a number of exciting and innovative researchers and themes I was keen to engage with. Moreover, links to other faculties allowed me to be co-supervised between SRI, the Faculty of Biological Sciences and the School of Geography.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study? 

A combination of scientific curiosity, the challenge of trying to address highly complex problems which have important implications for human well-being (I work in the field of ecosystem services) and the opportunity to work with a diverse group of highly intelligent, thoughtful and motivated researchers.

How do you think a PhD degree has helped you develop both personally and in your career?

As well as the more obvious things such as developing theoretical and methodological knowledge and skills related directly to my own research, the diverse nature of the researchers and PGR students within SRI gave me insights into areas of research that have broadened my research interests. Successful completion of a PhD also involves developing a number of non-specific skills such as problem-solving, effective communication, time management, and networking.

Please give a brief profile of your career path to your current job:

My first degree was in mechanical engineering and I worked as a design engineer among other things before returning to academia. I did an MSc in sustainability at the University of Leeds and then worked for a year as a teaching/research assistant. I completed my PhD in 2011. My PhD research was highly interdisciplinary bring together ecology, economics and geography and this experience—as well as working on other research projects for NERC and the UK National Ecosystem Assessment during my PhD—provided me with the skills experience to get my current postdoc position at the FuturES Research Center at Leuphana Universität, Germany.

What are the challenges and rewards of your current job?

I currently coordinate the ecosystem services research within the Faculty of Sustainability at Leuphana Universität. This involves bringing together natural and social scientists from diverse fields and finding common ground in which we can conduct novel and innovative research. This is both challenging and rewarding in equal measures.

What direction do you want your career to go in the future?

I am keen to stay in academia and to work on the interface between the natural and social sciences to better understand human interactions with nature and the implications of these interactions on both human well-being and ecosystem health.