About

Our Programme

Humans’ relationship with nature and fellow animals is critical: we are living the sixth mass extinction, climate change threatens all forms of life on a global scale, and an abysmal number of animals suffer terrible lives in factory farms, aquaculture facilities, laboratories and other captive environments. Continued industrialisation and the overexploitation of both domesticated animals and natural resources are not only unsustainable, they have stripped humans from their animality and animals from their selves and habitats. Abusive and harmful practices put the health of humans and other animals alike at great risk, and threaten the survival of wild animals’ communities, their cultures and their habitats. Fellow animals have personalities, forge relationships and have their own modes of social organisations and communication, that are disrupted by human activities in many ways. Our relationship with other animals and the rest of nature has to change.

As a result of this alarming situation and born out of our desire to provide viable solutions, the focus of the Animals & Biodiversity programme is to provide meaningful insights on animal studies from a global perspective, and influence policy-making to achieve interspecies justice and build a multi-species society by relying on our core values: equality, solidarity, compassion, and care. Our aim is to highlight the connections between various issues concerning Animals & Biodiversity, bringing together diverse academic fields such as Animal Law, Anthrozoology, Philosophy, Environmental Law, Animal Ethics, and Animal Welfare Science. We strive to adopt an anti-anthropocentric and intersectional approach that welcomes insights from critical race theory, disability studies, ecofeminism, post-colonial theory, and critical animal studies.

We provide updates on recent developments on Animals & Biodiversity through the publication of many resources, including recommended readings on topical issues, blog posts, working papers, information on upcoming events and current initiatives; and by organizing events such as roundtables, panel discussions, conversations, book talks, seminars and workshops. We disseminate information concerning these activities through Facebook and Twitter (@Animals_GRN). You can join the conversation by using the hashtag: #GRNAnimals_Biodiversity. Each of our monthly themes has a unique hashtag for more specific engagement. Follow us and stay tuned for Animals & Biodiversity!

Fellows

Marine Lercier

Fellow

Lead for GRN Think Tank Programme in Animals & Biodiversity

Marine is a French lawyer specialized in International and European Law. After an international experience in Human Rights Law, Warfare Law and Transitional Justice, she earned a master’s degree in Animal Law & Society with honors at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She wished to complete her training with the ambition of advocating, researching and implementing animal rights in addition to human rights after becoming aware of the interconnectedness of these issues, and the relationship between human and animal health and welfare. She therefore strives to adopt an intersectional and anti-speciesist approach to legal research. She is a PhD candidate (Global Law and Human Security) and pre-doctoral researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, where she taught Animal Welfare Law and Roman Law. Her research focuses on Global Animal Law, Animal Labour and Racehorse Welfare with the aim of improving the welfare of racehorses and their protection at the end of their career. She actively researches and advocates for the decommodification of animals and the recognition of their legal status as non-human persons with rights to empower them in the human-animal society.

Dr Yoriko Otomo

Fellow

Global Research Network

I am a Fellow at the Royal Society of Arts, a Research Associate at SOAS, Governor for the Network for International Law Students, member of the Global Animal Law Expert Group, and I am on the Board of Minding Animals International. I am a Series Editor for Anthem Press, on the editorial board of the Australian Feminist Law Journal, and an External Examiner for universities in the UK. I live in England with my beloved partner, three sons, three hens and two cats.​

Junior Fellows

Rebecca Madrid

Junior Fellow

Graduate Student in Anthrozoology at the University of Exeter

Rebecca is a graduate student in Anthrozoology at the University of Exeter. Their research focuses on how ecocentric Asian elephant tourism camps in Myanmar construct the image of a ‘retirement sanctuary’ for lumber industry elephants that have been laid off or injured. They believe that recognition of these elephant individuals as workers in multi-species workplaces, and thus contributors to a multi-species society, can positively impact their wellbeing.

Rebecca’s academic background is in Social and Cultural Anthropology, having earned a B.A. from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a specific focus on systems of oppression and the ways in which various groups become marginalised by the individualistic agenda of late-stage capitalism. Their academic and advocacy work aims to expose the fallacy of ‘invisible’ struggles, instead highlighting the ways that certain classes of human and morethanhuman animals are consciously and actively erased. Rebecca is also the co-host of The Shifting Lens podcast, a project which aims to make critical Anthrozoological concepts more accessible to non-academics.

Motunrayo Esan

Junior Fellow

Research Assistant at Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law

Mo is a Nigerian law graduate of Babcock University with research interests in animal law, public international law, human rights, matrimonial causes and election petitions. While in her final year of her LLB at Babcock, Mo wrote an undergraduate dissertation titled “Raising a Legal Framework for the Regulation of the Adoption of Dogs for Security in Nigeria”. In her work, she drafted a bill and sought to employ legal principles that would make dog owners more responsible for their activities in the country.

Upon completing her LLB, Mo immediately commenced with an LLM at Babcock and took international law courses. Her dissertation proposed a draft of a Universal Declaration on Animal Rights, and earned a distinction. In 2020, Mo was sponsored by the UK Centre for Animal Law to attend the Africa Animal Welfare Conference. She then commenced a role at the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law as a research assistant towards the publication of an animal rights law textbook (forthcoming in 2023). She also currently works as an editorial assistant for the Carnelian Journal of Law and Politics where she reads manuscripts and refers proposed contributions for peer reviews. She has also completed the bar exam of the Nigerian Law School and has been sworn in as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Naomi Clark-Shen

Junior Fellow

PhD candidate at James Cook University

Naomi is a PhD candidate at James Cook University Singapore, where she studies the biology and ecology of small, forgotten sharks and stingrays caught in fisheries around Southeast Asia. She works toward improving the lives of fish, both in terms of conservation and their welfare. Naomi also has experience working on how territorial disputes and political tensions in the South China Sea influence fisheries and marine conservation. Above all, Naomi is an advocate for a more compassionate world where animals are recognised as individuals, and exploitation and speciesism ends.

Altamush Saeed

Junior Fellow

Altamush is a Pakistan-based animal rights lawyer currently pursuing an LLM in Animal Law at the Center for Animal Law Studies, Lewis and Clark Law School. He will be pursuing an Environmental Law, Natural Resources and Energy Law LLM at Lewis and Clark. He holds an LLM from the University of Michigan Law School, a BA-LLB from Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan and is a Co-Founder/Director of Charity Doings Foundation(charitydoings.org). Altamush is also an Animal Welfare Ambassador to Comprehensive Disaster Response Services (CDRSWorld.org), both incorporated in Pakistan/USA, and is a member of the American Bar Association Animal Law, International Animal Law, and the Climate Change & Human Rights Subcommittees, and of the newly formed Animal Law Working Commission Group for The Union of International Associations (UIA).

He served as a Legislative Advocacy Intern at Best Friends Animal Society in 2022 and is currently serving as a Humane Policy Volunteer Leader at the Humane Society of the United States and a Government Relations Intern at The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for 2023.

Wasseem Emam

Junior Fellow

PhD Candidate at the University of Stirling

Wasseem is an Egyptian-Canadian freelance consultant experienced in both policy and research and based out of Glasgow, Scotland. He has over 13 years of varied international experience across the fisheries and aquaculture sector and holds degrees in applied aquatic ecology. Wasseem’s doctoral studies on the welfare of farmed Nile tilapia have led him further into work on fish welfare. He has experience working on fisheries and aquaculture studies for a wide range of clients including the FAO, the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee (PECH), WorldFish, Cefas, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, ASC, the Marine Conservation Society UK and WWF-UK with extensive travel across Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East.

Varnika Singh

Junior Fellow

Legal Manager at Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations

Varnika Singh is a lawyer with 12 years of experience in various fields of law. She began her career prosecuting Trade Mark laws and has since completed a judicial clerkship with the Hon’ble Justice of the High Court of Delhi, India. She was also involved with the Human Rights Law Network and worked in the field of human rights. Varnika also has a Master of Laws in Science and Technology from the National Law Institute at the University of Bhopal. She is currently employed by FIAPO as a Legal Manager/consultant in the legal and policy team. Varnika’s work focuses on litigation, legal advice, animal issues deliberation, and the drafting and vetting of court petitions and legal instruments.
Varnika worked on several significant cases while at FIAPO, including the prohibition of a bull sport known as Jallikattu, the issue of street dogs, and the prohibition of animals in circuses. Varnika has provided policy feedback on the draft amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1060, and the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. She is particularly interested in the legal rights of wild animals and nature. She is also pursuing an LLM in Animal Law from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, to broaden her knowledge and scope in the field.

Brandon Rochester

Junior Fellow

Brandon is a PhD candidate and Academic Associate at York St John University in England. Within his institution, the research themes are centred around social and ecological justice, with recent attention drawn to nonhuman animals. Through this post, Brandon aims to increase the attention of nonhuman animals within the green criminology sphere, through a theoretically holistic approach, in the aspiration that this will concurrently create more critical citizens and advance policy change.

Brandon’s research experience was developed through earning a BA in Sociology and Criminology and an MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice. His goal is to see justice, fairness and equity spread across the world – across all living beings. To obtain this goal, Brandon believes that it is paramount to stand up and be an advocate for the voiceless; to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. For this reason, he is dedicated to bringing attention to the cause through both academia and activism, supporting and accelerating the ever building traction and momentum of harm-alleviating movements, such as the animal rights and environmental justice campaigns.

Mikalah Singer

Junior Fellow

Program Manager for the Center for Contemporary Sciences

Mikalah is an Oregon-barred attorney with a Certificate in Animal Law and an L.L.M. in Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law from Lewis & Clark Law School. She earned her BA in Cognitive Science and Psychology with honours from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio where she worked on research related to ethics and dehumanization.

Mikalah acts as the Program Manager for the Center for Contemporary Sciences where she drafts legislation and policy at the intersection of public health, animal welfare, and the environment, while managing the development of student organizations at that intersection. Prior to joining CCS, Mikalah was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Environmental Health and Engineering Department at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in the Toxicology Policy Program. While at Johns Hopkins, Mikalah worked on a team of lawyers and scientists to support in vitro models in research and safety testing through lobbying, education, and research. Her primary focus was on policy changes that the National Institutes of Health can make in its grant-making process to be more inclusive of the use and development of in vitro and in silico models in biomedical research. Additionally, Mikalah lobbied for federal legislation related to the acceptance of human-relevant methods in research and safety testing, examined existing environmental, animal, and public health laws, and assisted in the translation of scientific information into policy initiatives.

Mikalah is also the Founder and Executive Director of Fox Protection International, an organization dedicated to spreading awareness and supporting global efforts to protect fox species and their natural environments.

Associates

Amy Wilson

Associate

Amy has over ten years of legal experience and prior to graduating as the first South African with an LL.M. Degree in Animal Law, she worked as a corporate lawyer at the largest law firm in Africa. Amy is co-founder and director of the first organisation dedicated to animal law in her country – Animal Law Reform South Africa. Amy is a trustee of the Humane Education Trust (HET), a director and co-founder of the Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organisations (CAAWO), and is the co-founder of Lawyers for Animal Protection in Africa (LAPA).

Amy is currently working at UCLA School of Law in California as the Brooks Institute Animal Law and Policy Fellow, and prior to this position, she worked as the Legal Fellow of the Aquatic Animal Law Initiative and assisting with the Animal Law Clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School.

Anne Safiya Clay

Associate

Anne is a PhD candidate in Environmental Science and Public Policy at George Mason University in the United States. She is interested in the relationship between culture and the development of environmental ethics, especially with respect to the conservation and welfare of wild animals. Her PhD research focuses on a comparative study of zoos in the United States, South Korea, and France—specifically on how these institutions fit into the larger context of the 21 st century debate on modern zoos. She received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Biology and Society from Arizona State University. She has several publications, including a chapter on the development of the Seoul Zoo’s animal welfare management and conservation priorities in The Ark and Beyond, a book on the evolution of zoo and aquarium research.

Cebuan Bliss

Associate

Cebuan is a PhD candidate at Radboud University, the Netherlands, within the Environmental Governance and Politics Group. Her interdisciplinary research explains the synergies and trade-offs between animal and biodiversity governance systems using an Integrative Governance framework. In particular, she is researching topics in conservation where there are conflicts between protecting the interests of individual animals and those of species: ‘Invasive Alien’ Species, non-subsistence hunting and species ‘management’, and rewilding. These topics relate to themes on non-human agency, multi/inter-species justice and transformative governance. Cebuan obtained an MSc in Global Environmental Governance from Vrije University, Amsterdam, and a BA in Politics from Durham University in the UK.

María Francisca Tapia Thenoux

Associate

Law graduate and Associate of Fundación Derecho y Defensa Animal (Chile). Experienced in Animal Law, having completed my undergraduate thesis in Animal Rights and Criminal Law, as well as my years of experience working in an Animal Rights Foundation. Teaching assistant of Criminal Law at Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Chile.

Pablo Serra-Palao

Associate

Pablo Serra-Palao is a Predoctoral Fellow at the University of Murcia, Spain. He has published several articles on animal law and environmental law issues, such as the crime of ecocide or the linkages between ecosystems’ vulnerability and ecological integrity. He is currently working on the legal relevance of future generations’ well-being, underpinning his work in future care ethics and a vulnerability-based approach. He holds an LL.M. in Diplomacy and International Relations from the Diplomatic School of Spain, and an LL.B and an LL.M. in Biolaw from the University of Murcia. He is also Associate Editor of Bioderecho.es Journal.

Yvonne Isaac-Kesseli

Associate

Yvonne Isaac-Kesseli is a Partner in a Strategy Consultancy and has conducted numerous Strategy and Transformation Projects in different industries. Passionate about animal welfare, biodiversity, climate and water with a strong track record in developing and implementing corporate sustainability strategies. She holds positions in Academia and the NPO sector, eg. as president of an Economists’ alumni Association or president of a biodiversity NGO. The world needs leaders who demonstrate cross-species solidarity, compassion and conscience. She is a firm advocate of animal welfare and is saddened by the horror we have been creating for our fellow species. Together we can enable fruitful partnerships and create impact, especially for the voiceless.