News Releases

UWI Scientists weigh in on Reshaping the future of ethnobiology research after the COVID-19 pandemic

For Release Upon Receipt - July 7, 2020


Dr David Picking and Professor Rupika Delgoda from the Natural Products Institute (NPI) at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Mona Campus are among a group of experts featured in the international online journal, Nature Plants.

In an article published in June on the relation between COVID-19 and Ethnobiology, The UWI scientists alongside other world-wide subject matter experts question the impact of the pandemic on research in ethnobiology—a key discipline for biological and cultural conservation. The COVID-19 health pandemic has affected almost every aspect of life across the globe and the authors conclude that ethnobiological research is not excluded from its impact. 

Dr Picking and Professor Delgoda note that the questions posed in the article are particularly significant for the Caribbean, which faces health and food security threats and environmental degradation in the context of both COVID-19 resilience and climate change.  

In the article, the researchers point to several issues including the pandemic’s effect on indigenous communities, their traditional knowledge, their subsistence or the management of natural resources and the effect of the global crisis on interactions between researchers and local communities. They cite, “given the role of ethnobiology in the conservation, sustainability and ethical use of bio-cultural diversity, the answers to these questions will be crucial.”

The article titled, Reshaping the future of ethnobiology research after the COVID-19 pandemic can be accessed at




Notes to the Editor

Ethnobiology is devoted to the study of past and present relationships between humans, cultures, and the biophysical environment, with a focus on knowledge, cognition and the traditional use of plants and animals. Transdisciplinary in nature, ethnobiology is also a field-based enterprise: researchers explore different biological and cultural landscapes around the world and interact with local and indigenous communities and their ecosystems. 

The Natural Products Institute is a dedicated research facility within the Faculty of Science and Technology, The UWI, Mona. It engages in collaborative, pure and applied scientific research to unearth the full potential of Jamaican and Caribbean natural products for the welfare of the country and the region. To learn more, visit


About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); The UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies; the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ); The UWI-University of Havana Centre for Sustainable Development; The UWI-Coventry Institute for Industry-Academic Partnership with the University of Coventry and the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research with the University of Glasgow.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2018 and 2019. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)