During her PhD, Gergana studied the individual and cumulative impact of human activities on global biodiversity, thanks to the recent revolution in the availability of ecological data.
As a Schmidt Science Fellow at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, Gergana will use remote sensing imagery to discover the hotspots of land abandonment around the world and determine what types of ecosystems form in such areas. If mature trees and forests grow on abandoned land, they can capture carbon from the atmosphere and help mitigate climate change. Conversely, land abandonment might also endanger biodiversity and turn otherwise diverse habitats into the same kinds of landscapes. Gergana will additionally lead field research in Bulgaria, where she will combine acoustic and drone surveys to capture the impacts of land abandonment in greater detail.
Gergana aims to shed light on the consequences of land abandonment and rural depopulation for the natural world and the services that ecosystems provide for humanity.