UCL Division of Biosciences

Dr Abbie Chapman

Dr Abbie Chapman

Research Fellow in Sustainable Food Systems

Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Apr 2018

Research summary

Abbie is a Postdoctoral Research Associate working with Dr Tim Newbold on the international, interdisciplinary SENTINEL project (‘Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture’ - https://www.sentinel-gcrf.org/).  This project is investigating how Ethiopia, Ghana, and Zambia can work towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 of ‘zero hunger’ through agricultural expansion, whilst reducing inequalities and conserving ecosystems (SDGs 10 and 15).  At UCL’s Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, Abbie is conducting spatial and statistical analyses to assess the present and future impacts of agriculture on terrestrial biodiversity in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Zambia. 

Alongside her work on the SENTINEL project, Abbie continues to support projects aiming to increase the accessibility and use of large-scale biodiversity data in understudied ecosystems, such as deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

Research interests:

  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Macroecology and biogeography
  • Geographical / oceanographic influences on biodiversity (including climate change)
  • Trait- and taxonomy-based metrics of rarity and uniqueness
  • Disturbance ecology
  • Multivariate and spatial analyses using R and ArcGIS

Teaching summary

Abbie has been a paid postgraduate demonstrator on undergraduate and postgraduate courses, leading discussion sessions and GIS tutorials, as well as mentoring students.  She delivered a remote lecture to students on a ‘Deep-sea Ecology’ course at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, and has given talks to colleagues and members of the public via seminars and webinars.

Abbie currently co-supervises MRes students with Dr Tim Newbold:

  • Tasmin Alexander, 2020: Investigating the impact of large-scale land acquisitions on biodiversity in Africa.
  • James Johnston, 2019: Spatial analysis of overlap of cocoa plantations with areas of high biodiversity.
  • Georgie Hislop, 2019: Social and environmental trade-offs in Ethiopian agriculture.
  • Philippa Oppenheimer, 2019: Comparing land-use and climate-change impacts on biodiversity across terrestrial biomes.
  • Cody Danaher, 2019 (research project forming part of MSc in Integrated Water Resource Management at McGill University, Canada): Using remote sensing to prioritise freshwater biodiversity conservation areas in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa.


Abbie specialised in using traits to study the biodiversity and biogeography of deep-sea hydrothermal-vent fauna for her PhD.  For her thesis, she: wrote a paper published as the Editor's Choice article in Diversity and Distributions (https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12712); co-led an iDiv-funded working group (https://www.idiv.de/sdiv/working_groups/wg_pool/sfdvent.html) and an international team of experts to build a global trait database for vent species (https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12975); and investigated the functional and taxonomic uniqueness of vent regions.  


Before her PhD, Abbie worked as a Trainee Oil Spill Modelling Consultant for Oil Spill Response Limited, conducting oil spill modelling using SINTEF's Oil Spill Contingency and Response software (OSCAR) and ArcGIS to better prepare oil companies for worst-case scenario spills.

Abbie has a PhD in Deep-sea Ecology, an MSc in Oceanography, and a BSc (Hons) Physical Geography with Physical Oceanography degree from the University of Southampton.  She began to work on the SENTINEL project as a Research Assistant whilst completing her PhD.