Christ Church student Olivia Grant presented with Scientific Exploration Society Rivers Foundation Award

Congratulations to Olivia Grant, a third year undergraduate studying Biological Sciences at Christ Church, who has been presented with the Scientific Exploration Society Rivers Foundation Award, and was made an honorary member of the society. She was presented with the award at the SES Explorer Awards 2018, held on Tuesday 22nd May at the City and Guilds Building in London.

Olivia said, ‘the Scientific Exploration Society Rivers Award is an award of £5000 to support a conservation and documentary film expedition that I am leading to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. We will study the link between cultural erasure and loss of biodiversity on small islands, and investigate the role of engagement with nature and the value of indigenous knowledge in successful conservation. We will study the last remaining population of the Ultramarine Lorikeet, a critically endangered bird species, and work with local people and BirdLife International to design a conservation plan to protect the species. We will make a documentary on the tenuous survival of a unique culture and striking bird species. My fellow expedition members are Annika Schlemm, a second year at Christ Church, and Ben Cherry, a professional wildlife photographer and film maker’.

The Scientific Exploration Society (SES) was founded in 1969 by Colonel John Blashford-Snell and colleagues, following the successful first navigation of the Ethiopian Blue Nile, in order to initiate a worldwide programme of scientific expeditions for the exploration of remote regions of the earth, focussing on scientific research, conservation, education and community aid projects, particularly in under-resourced environment.

The society seeks to inspire and support the next generation of ground breaking ‘pioneers with purpose’ through the SES Explorer Awards. Six awards are given each year, with the aim of enhancing chosen careers by providing high profile awards for projects that will also leave a lasting legacy and benefit. The SES seeks ‘the rising stars whose passion for environmental sustainability and conservation set them out to become major players in the next generation, willing to take on risks in a sensible way and to share the values of grit, curiosity, integrity and leadership that pioneers like SES Founder John Blashford-Snell expounded’.

The SES Rivers Foundation Award for Health and Humanities is an award of £5000, and also gives the winner the exclusive right to become the SES Rivers Foundation Explorer 2018. The Rivers Foundation has, for many years, provided support for children and young adults, both in the UK and internationally, particularly focussing on the education, social development and medical well-being of young people. The award aims to support projects benefitting communities in deprived and under-developed regions of the world, or which will assist in cultural development or practices within these communities, with strong local community engagement and collaboration. The award was created to support a ‘pioneer with purpose’ who is leading an expedition combining adventure and scientific purpose.

You can find out more about Olivia and her expedition, as well as the other winners of this year's awards, on the SES website.