Earthwatch Scientist, Andrew Gichira, Ph.D

Andrew Gichira, Ph.D.

Center for Ecosystem Restoration, Kenya

I’m a Kenyan botanist, a certified ecological restoration practitioner in training, and a research manager at the Centre for Ecosystem Restoration (CER). I joined CER in 2022 to lead the designing and implementation of research in ecosystem restoration projects across three diverse landscapes in Kenya. Before then, I worked as a lecturer at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, where I taught Botany and supervised students for a year (2021–2022). I worked as a Freelance Editor in 2020/21, mainly editing and proofreading research articles for authors and academic peer-reviewed journals. All this was immediately after graduating with a Ph.D. (2016–2020) from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in China, where I also did my Master’s (2013–2016). I worked for Syngenta-Kenya Cutting Ltd (2013) as a Propagation Specialist heading the Propagation department, a role I assumed immediately after graduating with a BSc in Biotechnology from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya.

Why are you interested in your research focus?

A deep concern for escalating ecosystem degradation and loss of ecosystem services drives my interest in restoration ecology. Ecosystem restoration offers a crucial framework for mitigating human-induced impacts, promoting biodiversity, and ensuring sustainable environmental practices. With a background in Botany, I aim to apply theoretical knowledge to practical solutions, contributing to the field's advancement and ecosystem resilience.

What is one of your favorite moments in the field?

There are many, but among the most memorable is my field experience conducting vegetation surveys within the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot. This involved traversing through diverse ecosystems, from coastal to alpine zones. The hiking expeditions involved scaling seven mountains in Eastern Africa, including Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya—the highest and the second highest peaks in Africa, respectively, with a team of multi-national researchers. The expeditions offered a unique perspective on the intricate balance of biodiversity within this critical hotspot. Notably, the zonation of vegetation, which is dictated by altitude and climate (precipitation and temperature), triggered my thoughts about the altitudinal displacement of plants. The whole experience underscored the interconnectedness of ecosystems in the region, motivating a dedicated focus on restoration ecology to address environmental challenges.


I graduated in 2013 with a BSc. in Biotechnology (Botany) from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya. I have an MSc. in Botany (Conservation Genetics; 2016) and a Ph.D. (2020) from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. My Master’s thesis project focused on investigating the demographic history and population structure of Hagenia abyssinica, a tree endemic to Eastern Africa, while my doctorate dissertation project was on understanding the evolutionary history of Dendrosenecio and genus whose members are range-restricted to the Afromontane region.

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