Dr Jessica Mitchell

Profile

I am a zoologist by background. I completed my combined undergraduate and master’s degree (MbiolSci) at the University of Sheffield in 2011. For my thesis I worked on the genetics involved in tooth and tastebud development in sharks.

From 2011-2012 I volunteered at the Kalahari Meerkat project, a long-term animal behaviour research project in South Africa. From 2012-13 I managed a sub-project by the Duke University, USA to investigate the role of endocrinology in dominance behaviour of female meerkats. I was awarded my PhD in 2017 from Liverpool John Moores University. My research was based in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda working on the Banded mongoose project. Here I used a combination of chemical, behavioural, and parasitic analyses to understand how social animals such as Banded Mongooses use their sense of smell to make decisions around mate-choice.

After so long working on wild animals I inevitably began engaging with the people and communities who live alongside them. I became increasingly involved in local health and educational projects around my field sites, and engaged in conservation, environmental management, and climate action within these communities.

My interest in engaging communities with local challenges and seeking to develop locally meaningful solutions led me to take a break from academia. For two years, I managed and evaluated an environmental education programme run by the UK-based social enterprise Solutions for the Planet. 

However, I missed the challenge of developing and delivering my own research and so returned to Academia at Leeds in 2018 to work with Dr Rebecca King and Professor Paul Cooke on the interdisciplinary work to tackle Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Together we have successfully applied for several UKRI grants and I now lead a suite of AMR-related reserach projects including the CE4AMR network. I am an active member of the Unviersity of Leeds’ cross-faculty AMR network and an advisory board member of the Horizon’s institute. 

In 2021 I was a winner of the Vice Chancellors World Changers competition for my essay on the linkages between AMR and the climate crisis  I developed a podcast on this theme and was awarded a Research Culture grant to develop my research ideas and portfolio.

Responsibilities

  • Project manager CE4AMR network
  • Research Fellow COSTAR project
  • Principle Investigator: Co-designed AMR education in Nepal

Research interests

I am an interdisciplinary researcher working on global challenges, mainly in the areas of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and zoonoses. I work at community level, across low resource settings including LMICs, but also within the UK and LMIC education systems.

I lead the CE4AMR network Community Engagement for Anti-microbial Resistance  which champions the use of community engagement approaches to tackle the challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). I am the lead Research Fellow on the COSTAR project which aims to robustly evaluate the scope of community engagement interventions to tackle AMR in low resource settings. I have also been awarded GCRF funding to lead my own research into the feasibility and acceptability of AMR education resource in Nepal using co-creation methods. From summer 2022 I will join the EU-Horizon funded URBANE project to assess the risk of Zoonoses linked to Peri-Urban farming practices.

I am particularly interested in the intersections between AMR and other global challenges such as the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and zoonoses. My aim is to use community-generated data to better understand these relationships and develop appropriate and locally meaningful solutions. I am currently scoping two new AMR-related projects thanks to an internal award of Research Culture funding in 2022. One will specifically consider the relationship between AMR and wildlife whilst the second will engage with young people to consider how their community can be better engaged with global health challenges.

Qualifications

  • PhD in Biological Anthropology, 2017 Liverpool John Moores University
  • 1st Class MBiolSci in Zoology 2011 University of Sheffield

Professional memberships

  • Associate Fellow HEA

Student education

I teach across selected modules in the Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development and I supervise BSc and MSc project students within the Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development. 

I also guest lecture within courses in the Life Long Learning Centre (LLC).

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Health Sciences