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Rosamund Portus

PhD by Research

PHD Rosamund Portus


Extinction Studies: Imagining a World without Bees

My thesis studies the ongoing decline of bee populations, examining how this process of loss has been actively and imaginatively responded to. I specifically focus my attention on responses to bees which are rooted in creative practices. Thus, my central research question asks how and why has the ongoing loss of bee populations inspired creative projects, and to what extent can these creative projects help shape bees’ futures. To guide my study, I root my work within the emerging genre of extinction studies. Extinction studies advocates that, as we enter into the sixth mass extinction, we need to tell stories which explore the social, cultural, and ecological dimensions of extinction processes. By embracing this approach in my own work I therefore tell a story which considers how the loss of bees has become narrated, experienced, and challenged through creativity.


Rosamund Portus is a third-year PhD student at the University of York. Her research concentrates on the decline of bee populations, asking how their loss has been explored, narrated, and challenged through the creative arts sector. Rosamund has previously published on topics such as rewilding, climate change, and environmental communications. Alongside her academic interests, Rosamund has worked with environmental organisations such as Sustrans and Julie’s Bicycle, and is currently a trustee for St Nicks Environment Centre and Nature Reserve. In her spare time, Rosamund works as an illustrator and artist, and has exhibited as part of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.


In addition to my PhD research, I have also undertaken research into rewilding projects and climate change communication strategies. These are evidenced through my peer-reviewed publications. I also have a particular interest in the relationship between health and nature. This was the focus on my MSc Dissertation, and an area I would like to return to in my future career.

External Activity


Awarded the Trinity College London CerTESOL Level 5 Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, University of Sussex.


Portus, R. (2017). Nurturing Nature: Exploring Hopes and Fears Over Children’s Connection with the Natural World. [Public Talk]. Plants in Cities: Health and Wealth, Cullinan Studio.


Exhibited in the 250th Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, curated by Grayson Perry.

Exhibited as part of the 2018 Beetime Artist Residency, Santa Lucia, Spain.

Partook in the Under Her Eye Fellowship. This was a fellowship centered around training women working across the environmental sector. It was run by the organisation Invisible Dust.

Co-organised: Northern Animals: Extinction in the Anthropocene (2018), University of York.

Co-organised: A Hostile Climate? Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Climate Change (2019), University of Leeds.
Awarded funding by the charity Invisible Dust to co-run a workshop titled Sounds of Extinction: Exploring the Loss of Bee Populations.

Portus, R. (2018). Studying Extinction: Art, Creativity, and the Loss of Bee Populations. [Public Talk]. Tetbury Goods Shed Talk Series, Tetbury Goods Shed.

Portus, R. (2018). Stories of Extinction: The role of creativity in responding to and resisting the decline of bees. [Public Seminar]. Leeds Animal Studies Seminars, University of Leeds.

Portus, R. (2018). Hope in the Age of the Anthropocene: Extinction, Environmental Grief, and Rewilding. [Conference Presentation]. Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT), University of Manchester.

Portus, R. (2018). Extinction Studies: Imagining a World without Bees. [Conference Presentation]. Digital Stories: Narrative and Aesthetics in Post-network Media, University of York.

Portus, R. (2018). Connecting with Climate Change: Bees, Extinction, and Environmental Engagement. [Conference Presentation]. Bees and Honey in Religions and in our Contemporary World, Melanchthon Academy.


Portus, R. (2019). Naming a Nightmare: The Anthropocene as a Product of the American Dream. [Conference Presentation]. Dreams and Atrocities, University of Sheffield

Portus, R. (2019). Absent Remains: Bees, Extinction, and Colony Collapse Disorder. [Conference Presentation]. Animal Remains, University of Sheffield.

Portus, R. (2019). Extinction Studies: Imagining a World without Bees. [Conference Presentation]. Summer Forum: Climate Week, University of York.


Winner of the 2020 Humanities Research Centre Poster competition.

Finalist of the University of York Three Minute Thesis Award 2020.

Co-organised: Process, Practice, and Environmental Crisis (2020 [Currently Postponed]), University of York.

Portus, R. (2020 [Upcoming]). Why We Grieve for Bees:The Cultural Valuing of Threatened Insects.
[Online Conference Presentation]. Insect Entanglements: University of Bristol.

Portus, R. (2020 [Upcoming]). Storying Extinction: Connecting Creativity and Ecology. [Online Conference Presentation]. Global Concerns in Storytelling: University of York.

Portus, R. (2020 [Upcoming]). Extinction in Public. [Conference Presentation]. Confronting Loss through Creativity: Narrating and Challenging the Decline of Bees: Manchester Museum.



Peer-Reviewed Publications:

Portus, R. (2018). Resistance and Rewilding: The Return of Beavers to Knapdale Forest. Acardia, 9. DOI: 10.5282/rcc/8317.

Portus, R and McGinn, C. (2019). Bees, Extinction and Ambient Soundscapes: An Exploratory Environmental Communication Workshop. Humanities, 8 (3). DOI: 10.3390/h8030153.

Portus, R. (Accepted for Publication, Expected 2020). An Ecological Whodunit: The Story of Colony Collapse Disorder. Society and Animals.

Non-peer reviewed Publications:

Portus, R. (2018). Where are the Bees Now? Exploring Loss in an Age of Extinction. Dark Mountain Project.

Portus, R. (2018). The Heart of the Ecosystem: Taking Responsibility for the Extinction of Bees. Seeing the Woods, The Rachel Carson Center.

Contact details

Rosamund Portus
PhD by Research