Ellesse Janda

Ellesse’s PhD explores how public opinions of conservation actions are formed and influenced, and how opinion data has been gathered and used within governments and NGOs

Photo credit: Ellesse Janda

E-mail: ellesse.janda@ed.ac.uk
Twitter: @MotherOfLemurs

PhD project

Understanding public opinions of conservation


I studied my undergraduate degree in Animal Behaviour and Wildlife Conservation in my hometown at the University of Wolverhampton, where I investigated olfactory communication in red ruffed lemurs. I then moved to Oxford Brookes University where I researched diurnal activity and sleeping tree selection in the southern woolly lemur as part of my MSc in Primate Conservation. Throughout my research experiences I developed a strong focus on environmental education, and believe conservation through social science to be critical to the future of the natural world. After some time working in the teaching and science communication sector, I joined the University of Edinburgh as a Ph.D student in 2021 to pursue research on the public’s opinions of conservation.


Despite its growing importance within decision-making and policy-shaping, public opinions surrounding nature conservation have been poorly researched. This research aims to explore the public’s opinions towards conservation; investigating how opinions surrounding conservation actions are formed and influenced, and how opinion data has been gathered and used within governments and NGOs as part of previous conservation projects. Drawing on methods used across disciplines, this Ph.D will test the potential for applying opinion-polling to track public opinion for informing future conservation practices. Working together with NatureScot, the project aims to understand the public outlook on national conservation efforts such as land management, rewilding, and the value of nature, and will contribute new understanding into how this data can be used to positively influence decision-making and future policies.


Janda, E., Ravelomandrato, F. & Donati, G. (in prep.) Sleeping site selection and diurnal activity in the southern woolly lemur (Avahi meridionalis). 

Janda, E & Khechara, M. (2020) Exploring the effectiveness of non-formal education provided by zoos: A ringtail lemur case study. Ratel. 47(2). 

Janda, E., Perry, K., Hankinson, E., Walker. D & Vaglio, S. (2019) Sex differences in scent-marking in captive red-ruffed lemurs. American Journal of Primatology. 81(1).

Grants and awards

2020: Biochemical Society – Large Outreach Grant

2020: Microbiological Society – Education & Outreach Grant

2020: Royal Society of Chemistry – Large Outreach Grant

2014: University of Wolverhampton – Academic Achievement Award