Staff and students of the School of Geography and the Environment were shocked and saddened to learn of the death of their colleague and friend Claudia Comberti in a road accident on 9 May.
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.