Kelly Gunnell is a King’s Water researcher in the Department of Geography exploring cities, ecosystem services and future climate change.
Kelly is from Johannesburg, South Africa where her early experiences of camping, hiking and kayaking in the African bush and rivers fostered a passion for the biological sciences and conservation. Wanting a mission focused career, Kelly majored in Zoology and Journalism at Rhodes University in South Africa with the idea of promoting conservation issues through science journalism. Her love for the sciences grew and she decided to rather be part of the action than reporting on it. So she went on to do a MSc at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA, where she examined the conservation genetics of a threatened native trout species, the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. The best part of this project was hiking up and down the tributaries of the Snake River in Idaho. The worst part (and the bulk of the project) was being stuck in a lab doing genetic analysis.
After returning to South Africa, Kelly worked as an environmental consultant with a surface water speciality, working mainly with mine companies. She then moved to the CSIR, the science research council in South Africa, for a short stint before deciding to relocate to the UK. In London, Kelly worked in a very unique role as Built Environment Specialist for the Bat Conservation Trust, where she developed her passion for urban ecology. One of the highlights of this role was co-authoring a book targeted at architects on how to design air-tight buildings for biodiversity called, “Designing for Biodiversity: a technical guide for new and existing buildings”.
Kelly had an interim role as an Ecology Manager for one of the London boroughs, before deciding to return to research. She was awarded a NERC funded PhD studentship via the London NERC DTP in 2014. Out of nine London based research institutions, Kelly chose to come to King’s to undertake a project in the Geography Department to map and model the role of natural infrastructure in protecting cities from flooding and how that will be impacted by climate change and urban growth. Although the project is primarily desk-based, Kelly is excited that she will also get a chance to visit some of the cities that she is studying.
Kelly was awarded an International Waters Network Graduate Fellowship in 2016.
Kelly’s three words about water: