Claudia Comberti

Claudia Comberti


The tragic loss of Claudia has left a great void in the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), School of Geography and the Environment (SoGE) and broader Oxford community.

Claudia was an alumna of the MSc course in Environmental Change and Management (2011-12) at the ECI and a DPhil student at Trinity College. Her DPhil research studying the relationship between indigenous peoples and their environment and her work as a teaching assistant on the ECI's MSc course, along with her wonderful smile and energy, touched many people in the department and beyond, all of whom have been honouring and remembering Claudia in so many ways.

Claudia was at the start of a successful career as an environmental social scientist. She both thought and cared deeply about the reciprocal relationships between indigenous peoples and their environment, relationships she thought were often misrepresented, poorly understood or simply ignored. In particular Claudia worked on how the abilities and knowledges of indigenous peoples as agents of change and adaptation could be understood more widely and made more secure. During her doctoral studies she lived and worked extensively in the Bolivian Amazon amongst the Tacana II people, and leaves many friends and memories there. Claudia had already written important papers that have had a significant influence in high level debates within the UN climate change and biodiversity conventions. She was an active member of the Ecosystems lab and Biodiversity and Climate research clusters as well as the Forest Governance and Conservation and Development groups in the School, and very much embodied the spirit of cross-cutting, interdisciplinary research, collaborative teaching and learning, and service to which we aspire.

Claudia was forever smiling, forever generous with her friendship. Her academic, college and local communities will greatly miss her.

The Claudia Comberti Fund and Scholarship

As a testament to Claudia's life-force and passion, her family have requested that a travel bursary is set up in her name, so that students at the Environmental Change Institute, where Claudia herself studied and from which she based her research, may be supported in their field research around the world. The School has set up a special fund in Claudia's name and are now collecting donations in her memory.

In addition to this, the ECI are naming their 2017-18 MSc Scholarship in her honour. In the coming weeks, the Claudia Comberti Scholarship will be awarded to an incoming 2017 MSc student of Environmental Change and Management.

Donate to the Claudia Comberti Fund

There are alternative ways of giving via cheque, BACS transfer, or cash.
Please contact for details.


4 June - ECM/ECI Tribute for Claudia Comberti

Claudia's Environmental Change and Management MSc class is coming together at Trinity College Oxford (Danson Room) to remember her. ECMers from other years as well as ECI staff are welcome to attend. Start around lunchtime. Please let us know if you would like to come via this online form on the facebook event page


How friends have been remembering Claudia:

  • Riding for Claudia
  • Broken Spoke, a local bike co-operative and workshop where Claudia was a frequent visitor, led the tributes by making a white memorial 'ghost bike', to mark the place where she lost her life. Over 100 friends joined the cycling tribute on Wednesday 10 May and a further 450 gathered on Friday 12 May in a 'Ride for Claudia' around the streets of Oxford.

  • School of Geography and the Environment
  • On Friday 12 May over one hundred of her colleagues gathered at an extended ECI coffee morning, a weekly event Claudia attended many times, to commemorate her life. A 'Book of Memories and Tributes for Claudia' is being collated in the department, and will be shared with Claudia's family. Anyone is free to contribute writing, drawings or art, or just to paste in photos or other mementoes. Rather than a book of condolences, its intention is to remember, share and pay tribute to the rich and multidimensional person that Claudia was. The book is available at Reception at the School of Geography and the Environment (Oxford, OX1 3QY) and will remain there throughout May and early June.

  • Trinity Chapel
  • Trinity College Chapel opened its doors to those who wanted to remember Claudia, light a candle for her and to write a condolence message.

  • Celebrating the life of Claudia at Hogacre Common
  • Friends, family and well-wishers gathered at Hogacre Common in Oxford on Monday 29 May, to celebrate Claudia's life. Guests dressed 'barefoot, bright and a little bit grubby' and brought a red neckerchief and a flower to dress trees in the forest for Claudia. A special ceremony was held, when friends and family shared stories, poems, songs and memories together.

Remembering Claudia online

Claudia touched lives around the world, through her work in the Bolivian Amazon and beyond. For those who are not in Oxford, Claudia's father has set up a Claudia Comberti Tribute page on Facebook, where family and friends can share their memories of her.


Claudia's photo in the SoGE calendar: June 2017


Claudia Comberti Claudia Comberti
Hunting Boys photo by Claudia Comberti

Above left: June 2017, 'From the Field' Calendar; and right: Hunting Boys, Río Heath, Bolivia/Peru, March 2015 by Claudia Comberti

Claudia entered last year's SoGE photo competition and her shot entitled 'Hunting Boys' was selected as June's picture for the department's calendar 2017.

Claudia's caption:

    "As part of my DPhil research into climate change adaptation in Amazonian communities, I spent a lot of time living with indigenous communities in the Bolivian Amazon, conducting participant observation. This meant I joined in as much as possible with whatever people were doing. During this period I was living with a family along the Río Heath, helping with the Brazil nut harvest. There were two families staying in the temporary harvest camp, and there were a lot of mouths to feed. This photo was taken one morning when food was running low, and the younger boys decided to set out on a day-long hunt. They allowed me to join them. As we travelled along the river, cheeks full of coca leaves to sustain energy for the long day, we were keeping an eye out for tapirs and turtles lurking at the water's edge."