The Trapnell fund, together with contributions from the Higgins - Trapnell Family Foundation, has established the Trapnell Fellowship in African Terrestrial Ecology. The purpose of the fellowship is to support ongoing research in African Terrestrial Ecology at the ECI. The expectation is that this field will expand and that research will be conducted in co-operation with appropriate African Universities or government departments of agriculture and forestry. The Trapnell fund was established through the generosity of Mr. Colin Trapnell, OBE.
The Trapnell Fellow is appointed with a strong research interest in the terrestrial ecology of Africa and expertise in one or more of the following fields: plant ecology, animal ecology, pedology and geomorphology. The fellow must also have had field experience in Africa and would undertake field research in Africa during the tenure of the fellowship. The first Trapnell Fellow Dr Lindsey Gillson worked at the ECI between 2001-2006. She was followed by Dr Kate Parr was appointed between 2007-2011. The current Trapnell Fellow is Dr Sallie Burrough, appointed in 2014.
Colin Graham Trapnell was born in 1907 and was educated at Sedburgh and Trinity College Oxford. A keen botanist and scientist from an early age, he co-founded the Oxford University Exploration Club in 1927, and organised its first expedition, to Greenland, in 1928.
As Ecologist for the Colonial Office, he was posted to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia ) in 1931. His brief was to map the soils, vegetation, and agriculture of the whole region, a task which took ten years. The surveys were the first of their kind to cover a whole country, and have recently been republished as they remain the basic source of essential natural resource data for the country.
He subsequently organised experiments across Zambia to assess land for groundnut production, and trained a number of ecologists for work in Africa ranging from large-scale vegetation and soil surveys to investigations into tsetse and desert locust infestations.
In 1960 he completed a study of the rainfall and vegetation of southwest Kenya, and subsequently mapped over 40,000 square miles of the vegetation of southwest Kenya.
In 1994, he started the Trapnell Fund for Environmental Field Research in Africa at the University of Oxford. The fund established a fellowship at the Environmental Change Institute, and the first Trapnell Fellow was appointed in October 2001.
Colin Trapnell died on February 9, 2004, aged 96. A special lecture commemorates his life and achievements, and looks forward to continuing his vision for African Ecology in the future.