Jenni Sanderson

Jenni Sanderson

Jenni Sanderson is an Associate Research Fellow in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the Penryn Campus. She is part of the Banded Mongoose Research Project, which is a long-term study investigating social behaviours in Ugandan mongooses. Jenni has written a children’s book, Billy the Banded Mongoose, to share information about mongoose behaviour with younger generations. Her positive experiences with science outreach inspired her to organise a Creative Science Outreach Workshop to help others discover how they can use storytelling as a mechanism to increase scientific impact and to engage children with University of Exeter research. Jenni also made headlines last year when she and colleague Lindsay Walker led the Unpackage Me initiative, which involved avoiding the use of throwaway plastics for an entire month, and chronicling the experience through social media.

While that may sound like an impressive list of accomplishments, Jenni is quick to downplay her successes. She said: “I wouldn’t say that I have done anything big enough to call ‘my proudest achievement’, rather I would say that I have achieved lots of little things that add up to make me very happy. I am proud of the person who I have become; proud to be someone who seeks out solutions to everyday problems and who listens out for little opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed.”

Listening, in fact, is something that she urges others to do: “Listening allows us to learn about the world, to learn about other people and other places, to understand why other people are different to us and that they have different needs.” She also advocates a bit of introspection, since self-understanding, she says, is critical to determining what you want out of life.

Her own life has been enriched by a variety of activities, from hang-gliding over the Cornish coasts to going on a book tour around Ugandan schools - activities that she says were all the more rewarding because they pushed her outside of her comfort zone.

An ability to seize such opportunities is one of the many traits that Jenni admires in her biggest role model - friend and Unpackage Me cofounder Lindsay Walker. Lindsay is such an inspiration because, Jenni says, “she is the kind of person who will see a problem with the world and do everything that she can to fix it, while still finding time to bake delicious cookies to share with everyone.”