Laura PereiraLaura Pereira

Past Post-doctoral Fellow

Although I think of myself as an ecologist, I have a background in zoology, law and both human and physical geography. Originally from Johannesburg, I completed my BSc (Hons) degree at Wits University, majoring in zoology, ecology and law before moving to Oxford. There I completed an MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Policy, undertaking a dissertation in Colombia on the commodity chain of hoja de coca (coca leaf). My DPhil, completed in 2012, was entitled ‘Adaptive capacity of the private sector to climate change impacts in the food system: food security implications for South Africa and Brazil.’ Following my DPhil, I spent a year in the Sustainability Science Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, working among others things on a case study on cassava bread in Nigeria.

During my two years as part of the Bio-economy research team, I expanded my research interests which are inter-disciplinary in nature with a particular emphasis on transformation in the food system. My research attempts to bridge innovation systems theory with socio-ecological/socio-technical systems theory in order to build a framework for understanding how the food system can be transformed to meet sustainability and equity objectives. The emphasis of this ongoing project is on ‘orphan’ crops – those crops that are either ‘neglected’ by science or ‘underutilised’ considering their potential. By using a lens of diversity – agro-biodiversity, farming system diversity and dietary diversity – I am interested in learning how innovation and knowledge at the farm level can be recognised within the more formal food value chain.

Outside my academic pursuits, I’m particularly fond of rowing. This started when I was at Oxford, continued at Harvard, and whilst at UCT I was a member of the women’s rowing team.