Sicily Fiennes

Sicily Fiennes


I am a first year PhD researcher, based in the Hassall Lab, as part of the new Extinction Studies Doctoral Training Programme at the University of Leeds.

I am traditionally a conservation biologist by training but have now shifted to a more interdisciplinary research focus, working across the various fields of conservation social science, political ecology, computer science and design. I also have extensive experience largely in the field of sea turtle conservation monitoring in Greece and Costa Rica through to working for various organizations such as the British Ecological Society and UNEP-WCMC.  

My doctoral research focuses on legal and illegal songbird trade in Asia and building machine learning tools to optimize species identification in markets. The main project is a machine learning-driven image recognition tool for species for use in bird markets in East Asia, targeted at law enforcement. I also seek to understand factors that influence the adoption and implementation of wildlife marketplace technologies amongst law enforcement and how this interacts with the risk of extinction of songbirds. I am also interested in opportunities for the co-creation of technology and decolonising design methods. For more on my work and interests please see my personal website.

Research interests

  • Artificial intelligence 
  • Conservation technology 
  • Design theory
  • Legal and Illegal Wildlife Trade (LIWT) 
  • Participatory design and co-production
  • Photography
  • Political ecology
  • Machine learning 
  • Museum studies


  • Bsc in Biodiversity and Conservation from University College London
  • MSc by Research in Biodiversity Management from the University of Kent