Luis Cunha



I am an environmental biologist/bioinformatician specialised in invertebrate biology, currently working on soil biodiversity in historical anthropic ecosystems, particularly interested in studying animal commensalism as an approach to infer ancient human movement and trade. I have been involved in projects related to evolutionary ecology, genetics and multi-omics’ approaches in invertebrates. My childhood interest in natural sciences led me to pursue a degree in Biology in a crucible of evolution, the Azores archipelago (Portugal), since then, I have shown an extensive track record in taking personal initiative to forge collaborations, which have facilitated my personal development and delivered innovative and exciting science allowing me to secure more than £1M in research income (80% as co-I and 20% as PI). In fact, my research maturity is evidenced by the manner in which my current project was developed, funded and converted. The concept was originated during an interaction at an international symposium from which a strategic research framework was quickly designed and deployed. As a Co-I, I applied to the RCUK-CONFAP fund that supported the creation of the Terra Preta de Indio network (, currently linking ~100 researchers from 20 countries. Since then, I have managed/taken part in significant networking activities, fieldwork and workshops. Personally, I have found this highly satisfying and an excellent platform to attract further funding. During the last two years, I have spent long periods of time dwelling in Amazonia rainforest. My fluency in Portuguese and Spanish enabled direct engagement with local people, specifically interacting with riverine and indigenous communities, allowing me to better understand their concerns. Most of my work has been converted in archaeological sites near the Amazon river, researching the soil biodiversity footprints and the impact of contemporary land-use on the Amazonian Dark Earths. This demanded me to interact with government representatives and NGOs, in particular, indigenous people representatives. Gaining knowledge about the social dependencies, trade-offs, and co-benefits across the Amazonian human-environment interfaces was crucial for my career pathway and future research perspectives. These interactions revealed a compelling case for additional research, a need that I want to be addressed through the establishment of critical mutually collaborative partnerships that can increase the potential impact of any future projects. Therefore, I have embedded myself in the Brazilian scientific community, created a dynamic, collaborative network, and thus, provide a potential liaison for scientific exchange as an ambassador for the UK scientific community forming a bridge between both communities.

Record last modified Aug 29, 2018 4:59:55 PM