Dr. Sophia Cooke

2020 Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Sustainable development in Galapagos
Supporting progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Galapagos
King's College University of Cambridge


After finishing my PhD, I was awarded funding by the Evolution Education Trust for a 3-year Research Associate position at King’s College, University of Cambridge, working with Galapagos policy makers and conservation organisations to support the archipelago’s goal of achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and sustainable recovery from COVID-19.

Galapagos is a unique ecosystem with a severe set of internal social and environmental issues, coupled with external threats including climate change. A holistic and just approach is required to protect and support both the community and wildlife and I believe the SDGs are a good model to follow to achieve this. However, this is not a simple task and it requires the cooperation of all stakeholders and decision-makers.

Under this umbrella topic, I am involved in several different projects.

40 Priority SDG Targets for Galapagos

Using stakeholder participation and network analysis, I have been working with local NGO FUNCAVID to prioritise and adapt 40 SDG targets for Galapagos through participatory workshops and build an on-line tool to help policymakers achieve these identified priorities.

Sophia Cooke (right) with two local young people who gain experience in conservation and sustainability through a paid internship scheme part of Co-Galapagos. Photo: Sophia Cooke
Supporting Community Initiatives through Co-Galapagos

My work seeks to facilitate cooperation and amplify the voices of the community in steering Galapagos towards a sustainable and resilient future.

In 2021, in collaboration with FUNCAVID and in partnership with the Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT), I co-launched an initiative called Co-Galapagos. The Co-Galapagos platform facilitates community-led social and ecological projects that can support achievement of the identified 40 priority SDG targets. In 2022, we were fortunate enough to win a Darwin Initiative Award for Co-Galapagos.

Sophia (second from right) celebrating one of the Co-Galapagos supported projects – a football training program for teenagers in Galapagos suffering issues with violence and/or drug abuse. Through this program the young people are not only trained in the sport, but also in community and environmental stewardship. Photo: Sophia Cooke.
At the interface between science and policy

Every day I work with a fantastic team and I have the opportunity to look into something different. I believe that Galapagos can set an example to the world on how people and nature can thrive together and I feel enormously privileged to be in the position that I am.

I enjoy working in inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary spaces and at the interface between science and policy. My ultimate ambition is to work for an international body such as the United Nations. I believe the experience I am gaining now, running SDG-related projects in Galapagos and working with varied groups of people on many different topics, should stand me in good stead for achieving this ambition.

I have long been interested in a wide range of topics, including wildlife conservation, gender equality and urban planning, but never imagined I would be able to work on all these interests within one job!

More about Sophia’s work:

2022 Early Career Researcher runner up, Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Research Impact and Engagement, University of Cambridge

Researcher profile

Sophia’s personal website

GCT blog about Co-Galapagos