Dr Poppy Lakeman Fraser is a Global Change Ecologist, Citizen Science Manager and National Geographic Explorer based in the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London.
She is a creative, science professional with a passion for the natural world and a drive to support young people to access it, record it and take action for their local environment. With twenty years of expertise in environmental research, citizen science and project management, she is committed to working in a field which raises awareness and finds collaborative solutions to the challenges facing our landscape, biodiversity and human wellbeing. Bringing together researchers, educators and members of the public is core to her projects (below). Rather than reinventing the wheel, she works with partners to assimilate, improve and expand resources to adapt for different audiences and across geographic boundaries. She believes that it is essential to bring youth voices to the forefront of the discussion and strives to provide forums in which to understand what is important to individuals and build the confidence and skills in order to empower young people to make the changes they want for a brighter, greener future. She hopes to transform eco-anxiety into positive action to benefit not only the environment, but our own physical and mental health. She loves the diversity of her role which spans local to international collaborations; nursery school bug hunts to secondary school student management panel discussions; designing citizen science surveys to writing academic papers; leading teacher training sessions to delivering keynote talks at conferences and theorising about bringing about change to getting out and planting trees.
SustainAbleYou: connects young people with local residents, businesses and councils to find inspiring approaches where everyone is ABLE (including YOU) to take personal steps for a more fulfilling, greener and all-round SUSTAINABLE future. Poppy received seed funding from the Imperial College Societal Engagement team to pilot approaches with young people in a small rural community. The first full cycle of discussions with students, community consultations, idea refinement, partnership with local organisations and launch of a festive food waste campaign with Litter Free Dorset has successfully been achieved. Together with colleagues she will be investigating how to support the motivations of individuals, perpetuating the momentum started in Dorset and how this model can be applied in different contexts.
X-Polli:Nation: cross-pollinating ideas, methods and technologies for pollinator citizen science. She secured a National Geographic Society grant to bring together technologists, educators and ecologists which expanded pollinator citizen science tools and resources from the UK to Italy. It supports:
- People: to build the knowledge and skills required to collect data, enhance habitats and become pollinator stewards in their local community
- Practice: to advance to the field of citizen science by adapting and integrating existing web-based technologies for new audiences, species and countries
- Pollinators: to record pollinating insects and create habitat to support populations under the strain of global change pressures.
The website provides a full programme of free activities (species ID tools, planting for pollinators advice, courses and worksheets) around four stages of the citizen science cycle: Learn, Record, Plant and Communicate so participants can not only learn about pollinators but actively make a difference to nature in the face of the biodiversity crisis. We have a growing following on social media @XpolliProject.
As the project evolved, it is now supporting the work of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in aligning our citizen science survey methodology with the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (PoMS) Fit Count.
The project is referenced in the UKRI public engagement strategy document, was promoted by Defra during Bees’ Needs Week 2020 (bees-needs.org.uk) and the team ran a workshop discussing building a pollinator CS network with other practitioners at the ECSA Conference (Sept 2020) and presented in the COP26 Green Zone. Given our drive to embed outdoor learning and citizen science in the curriculum we were delighted that Ofsted recognised the impact of our learning approaches. They made reference to our pollination activities at the start of the latest report for one of our participating school: ‘Pupils love making a difference to their future through such activities as encouraging pollinators such as beetles and butterflies to thrive in their local community. Pupils’ ideas about how to do this have been shared with other schools both nationally and internationally.’
We have received funding from EPSRC to integrate Artificial Intelligence into the species identification tools and to run the SENSE project below.
SENSE: develops haptic touchscreens to encourage and enhance sensory explorations of nature in school grounds in order to promote outdoor science learning about environmental issues from an early age. This is being led by the Open University and Poppy’s role includes the development of activities to prepare students and teachers for learning about biodiversity through touch in their school grounds as a precursor to the exposure to the haptic technology. She will also be working with students to develop their own citizen science enquiries.
Poppy Lakeman Fraser graduated with a First Class BSc Hons in Biology and Oceanography and was awarded the School of Biological Science Top Student Annual Prize from Southampton University in 2007. Utilising her broad knowledge of environmental science, her undergraduate thesis contributed to the development of Butterfly Conservation’s Wider Countryside Monitoring Scheme (supported by 600 regular volunteers, recording over 750,000 butterflies).
After working for the Forestry Commission and interning at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, she began her PhD at Imperial College London (ICL). This research investigated the simultaneous impact of climate change and land use modification on species interactions. While conducting fieldwork in forest ecosystems in New Zealand she was based at the University of Canterbury. She was an active member of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change community and the Ewers Forest Ecology and Conservation Research Group at Silwood Park. She was invited by an interactive science centre ‘Science Alive!’ in Christchurch to a create an exhibition and accompanying blog on my PhD research.
Moving into the field of citizen science (CS), in 2012 Dr Lakeman Fraser joined the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), arguably the largest CS network in the UK at the time (hosting a portfolio of 8 nationwide CS Surveys, funding platforms such as iSpot and generating over 1.3 million observations of nature) which inspired communities to discover, enjoy and protect their local environments. She joined the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity within the Natural History Museum, London analysing data collected on urban invertebrates she investigated how data quality can be assessed in data collected by citizen scientists.
On returning to ICL in 2013, she joined the OPAL management team and provided a key role in setting up the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) with others at Imperial and across Europe. Coinciding with the £3 million award from the Big Lottery fund to expand OPAL into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, she began her position as OPAL Senior Coordinator. Her role was varied: running public events in a Community Scientist role; designing citizen science resources such as the Polli:Nation Survey; coordinating and writing a series of manuscripts (e.g. BMC Ecology special edition on Citizen Science: contributing to the strategic direction of the programme; contributing to Imperial Fringe events; delivering keynote presentations (e.g. the Australian Citizen Science Conference 2016); and supporting collaborative work with other University colleagues on projects such as the NERC funded OPENER. Poppy was part of the team that won the Defra Civil Service Reform Award for the development of the OPAL Tree Health Survey and she was personally awarded the ICL President’s Award for Excellence for Outstanding Contributions to her Organisation in 2016. Since then, she has gone on to expand the legacy of the pioneering work OPAL conducted in the field with her latest projects (above) and has just finished a role at Natural England advising on Citizen Science for the Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (NCEA) Defra family programme.
Continued Professional Development:
Project Management: Prince 2 Project Management-Foundation (91%) & Practitioner (80%).
Leadership: Awarded membership to Chartered Management Institute (CMI) for completing Imperial Leadership Course: modules in Introduction to Project Management at Imperial; Prince 2 Project Management Overview; Decision Making; Managing Difficult Situations, Finance, Diversity & Inclusion and Mindfulness Effectiveness.
Environmental/Land Management/Wellbeing Courses: Nature, Health and Well-being CPD Course, University of Exeter (2023); Grazing Animals for Land Management, Phase 1 Habitat Surveys, Butterfly ID, Fungi ID & Wildlife Art.
Administration: Recruitment and Selection; iRecruitment; Introduction to CMS; Taking Minutes at Meetings. She has extensive experience working with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), ESRI ARCGIS and has experience working in InDesign and the statistical programme ‘R’.
Volunteering Experience: Treebourne (Street Trees, Current); Plastic Free Eastbourne (Beach Clean Adoptee, Current), Butterfly Conservation (WCMS Volunteer, 2017 - 2018), Forestry Commission (iTree Volunteer, 2016), Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (IUCN Red List Intern, 2007), Fiscardo Cetaceans (Dolphin Surveyor, 2006); Frontier (Tropical Marine Surveyor in Madagascar, 2003); Herts, Beds & Bucks Wildlife Trust (Conservation Placement, 1998).
et al., 2023, X-Polli:Nation: Contributing towards sustainable development goals through school-based pollinator citizen science, Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, Vol:8, ISSN:2057-4991
et al., 2016, Surveying the citizen science landscape: an exploration of the design, delivery and impact of citizen science through the lens of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) programme, Bmc Ecology, Vol:16, ISSN:1472-6785, Pages:17-17
et al., 2016, To have your citizen science cake and eat it? Delivering research and outreach through Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), Bmc Ecology, Vol:16, ISSN:1472-6785
et al., 2015, The OPAL bugs count survey: exploring the effects of urbanisation and habitat characteristics using citizen science, Urban Ecosystems, Vol:18, ISSN:1083-8155, Pages:1477-1497
et al., 2015, Green Plants in the Red: A Baseline Global Assessment for the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants, Plos One, Vol:10, ISSN:1932-6203