UK team

UK Team

Dr Ariell Ahearn


Since 2004, Ariell has worked extensively in rural Mongolia with mobile pastoralist communities on the topics of land use, social change and rural governance and development issues. She specializes in qualitative research, using methods such as ethnographic participant observation, interviewing, mapping and immersive field work. She is especially interested in translating research into positive social impact. Her expertise in rural Mongolia has led her to work as a research consultant on Oyu Tolgoi’s CAO dispute from 2015-2016 and on social impact assessment for wind development in Mongolia in 2022. Ariell is also the acting Chair of the Commission on Nomadic Peoples and Co-Chair of the Standing Committee for the Dana Declaration on Mobile Peoples and Conservation.

Dr Troy Sternberg

Senior Researcher

Extensive travel led to Troy’s interest in desert regions, environments and people. Thoughts on how arid lands functioned and why there was such great diversity and extent led to his D Phil on pastoral environments in the Gobi Desert (Oxford, 2009). Research focused on extreme climate hazards (drought, dzud), environments (water, steppe vegetation, desertification) and social dynamics (pastoralists, social-environmental interaction, mining and communities). Since 2005 Troy has continued to work in Mongolia and since 2015 in Central Asia. Through research he met project directors Ozaki (JSPS Drought, Dzud, Dust & Desertification programme) and Ahearn (US Fulbright Scholarship). 

Current research is on Pastoral Societies in Post-Covid 19 Inner Asia: Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan; Upscaling Community Mediation from Central to Southeast Asia; Mobilities and Socialities: COVID-19 in the Drylands; How religious change affects environmental change in pastoral drylands; Silk Road geographies of change; and Mining-driven Social License to Protest. He looks forward to the project’s JSPS-ESRC Summer Schools for Early Career Researchers in Mongolia (2022) and Kyrgyzstan (2023); Dana +20: mobile peoples and conservation (Jordan, 2022) and the International Pastoral Forum on Covid-19 conference that brings herders from Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan to Kenya (2022, German Research Foundation).  

Of his papers ‘Desert Boundaries: the once and future Gobi’, ‘Chinese Drought, Bread and the Arab Spring’, ‘Mongolian herders face Covid-19 with traditional calm’ and ‘Herd it in the Gobi: Deserting Pastoralism?’ are favourites.

Elizabeth Hempstead

Project Coordinator and Research Assistant

Elizabeth Hempstead is the Project Coordinator and Research Assistant for the PPIA project. She received her BSc in Human Sciences from the University of Exeter, UK in 2020 and will begin studying a MSc in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford in October 2022.   

Hoping for a career in science research and communication, she looks forward to supporting the project’s coordination, contributing to research publications, and creating outreach content.   


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