Dr Ans Vercammen

Senior Research Fellow

School of Communication and Arts
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Overview

I obtained my first degree in Psychology (Experimental & Theoretical) from Ghent University in Belgium and completed a Ph.D. in Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Groningen. Following a postdoc at NeuRa in Sydney and a few years lecturing on psychology at the Australian Catholic University, I chose to shift my research focus to environmental issues, and how they affect individual and collective human health and wellbeing. I gained experience with grassroots commmunity conservation projects as a volunteer and completed the interdisciplinary MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London in 2016. I was a researcher at Imperial's Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College from 2017-2021. My research is now broadly focused on the human dimensions of environmental change, with a particular interest in how people (emotionally) connect with nature, determinants of pro-environmental behaviour, the health and wellbeing benefits of nature exposure and the mental health impacts of climate change.

Research Interests

  • Nature connectedness
    I am interested in people's connectedness with nature, how this is expressed, and how it links to pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours.
  • Mental health impacts of environmental change / climate change
    Environmental change has many direct and indirect impacts on human lives. Apart from presenting a physical danger, environmental change may impact our mental health, experiences that are variably labeled as eco-anxiety, solastalgia, and ecological grief (among others). I am interested in understanding who is most affected by this, the conditions under which it may be adaptive (or not), how it's linked to agency and action-taking, and to what extent these experiences can be shaped to build greater resilience. I am involved with Climate Cares, a program of research led by the Institute for Global Health Innovation and the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London. We have collected data on young people's feelings about climate change in the UK, and we are working with a range of partners to expand this work globally.
  • Health and wellbeing benefits of engaging with nature
    I have previously collaborated with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the UK to assess the human wellbeing benefits of urban wetland environments. Next, I will be working with Zoos Victoria to develop a field experiment to test the physical and mental wellbeing effects of zoo visits and, in particular, immersive animal exhibits. I am also interested in what motivates people to visit urban green and blue spaces and how these spaces could be designed for maximal benefit, while also considering biodiversity values.
  • Metascience
    I am committed to supporting open science practices, both in my own work and by encouraging others. I also have an interest in improving peer review and critical appraisal of research for policy and practice.

Publications

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Publications

Journal Article