Please wait...
Prof. Aiah Lebbie
Head of Department - Biological Sciences

Career & Research Profile

Prof. Lebbie interest in the biological sciences is multidisciplinary, and the main thrust of my career concentrates on human interactions with natural ecosystems, and understanding the consequences on our society in the Upper Guinean Forests of Liberia and Sierra Leone.  His academic research and teaching interests include: the biodiversity and cultural anthropology of sacred groves; tropical plant ecology; Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) and ethnobotany of medicinal plants; ecological surveillance and molecular diagnosis of hemorrhagic fever viruses in Sierra Leone; ecotourism & protected area management; environmental sustainability in conflict and post-conflict situations (displacement and refugees); and understanding the context within which health, disease, traditional knowledge and medicinal plants converge in providing wellness.

He is currently studying the ecology of Maschalocephalus dinklagei (Rapateaceae), a plant endemic to Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  The amphi-Atlantic distribution of the family Rapateaceae has provided the quintessential material for examining evolutionary relationships and answering biogeographic questions relating to the distribution of several plant species between South America and Africa. He is also interested in another plant family, Podostemaceae, which is restricted to rapids in freshwater river systems on most major continents. In a recent joint initiative with botanists from the Royal Botanic Garden (Kew), a new species (Ledermaniella yiben) endemic to Sierra Leone was discovered and described in an area slated for hydropower development.  Additional discoveries have been made following this in other parts of the country, including a new genus and species. His goal is to conduct a national inventory of these unique species of freshwater plants before they disappear. 

Through a CoAg grant provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, He is currently the Principal Investigator on a capacity building project called “Enhancing capacity for ecological Surveillance and Molecular Diagnosis of Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses in Sierra Leone”.  This involves training staff and students over a period of two years in field surveillance techniques for viral pathogens in fruit bats, including necropsy, curating, molecular and serological diagnoses.  This post-Ebola initiative is intended to strengthen national capacity for future outbreaks involving emerging viral pathogens.

Over the years, He has used the knowledge and skills acquired to prepare my students for opportunities in various fields in academic institutions, NGO and government agencies.  He is currently supervising four PhD students, and a couple of undergraduate students both at Njala University and other institutions in Sierra Leone.  Visiting foreign students from the USA and UK frequently consult with me for their dissertation research in Sierra Leone, and it has been rewarding sharing my insight into the ecology of Sierra Leone with them and also welcome such future encounters with any student.  I have conducted fieldwork on environmental issues relating to forest livelihoods, human displacement, and mangrove conservation in several African countries including Liberia, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, The Gambia, Niger and Burkina Faso.

prof. Lebbie
Contact Info
+232 78 61 51 58
BScEd, Biological Sciences & Education, Njala University College (University of Sierra Leone), 1989.
MS, Conservation Biology & Sustainable Development, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1995.
PhD, Forestry with specialization in Forest & Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2001.

Career History

2013-Present, Senior Lecturer & Head, Department of Biological Sciences, Njala University, Sierra Leone.

2013-Present, Head & Curator, National Herbarium of Sierra Leone, Njala University.                  

2013-2015, Head, Department of Wildlife & Ecotourism, Njala University, Sierra Leone.

2005-2013, Country Director, Environmental Foundation for Africa, Liberia.

2002-2005, Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences, Njala University, Sierra Leone.

2002-Present, Director, Center for Biodiversity Research, Njala University.                   

1996, Teaching Assistant, Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

1995-1996, Research Assistant, Department of Forest Ecology & Management, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

1990-1992, Teaching Assistant, Department of Biological Sciences, Njala University College, Sierra Leone.                       

1989-1990, Research Assistant, Tropical Diseases Research Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, Njala University College, Sierra Leone.

Refereed Journal Papers and Books/Book Chapters

Gbakima, A. A. and A. R. Lebbie.  1992.  The head louse in Sierra Leone: an epidemiological study among school children in the Njala area.  West African Journal of Medicine 11(3):165-171. 

Lebbie, A. R. and R. P. Guries.  1995.  Ethnobotanical value and the conservation of sacred groves of the Kpaa Mende of Sierra Leone.  Economic Botany 49(3):297-308.

Lebbie, A. R. and M. S. Freudenberger.  1996. “Sacred Groves in Africa: Forest Patches in Transition”. In Forest Patches in Tropical Landscapes, edited by J. Schelhas and R. Greenberg. Chapter 15, Pp.300-324.  Island Press, Washington, DC.

Freudenberger, M.S., J. Carney and A. R. Lebbie.  1997.  Resiliency and change in common property regimes in West Africa: the case of the Tongo in Senegambia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.  Society and Natural Resources 10:383-402.

Lebbie, A. R. and R. P. Guries.  2002.  The palm wine trade in Freetown, Sierra Leone: production, income and social construction.   Economic Botany 56(3):246-254.

Alps, R., M. I. Bakarr, A. Lebbie and K. I. Bangura.  2003. “Sierra Leone”.  In West African Chimpanzees: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, edited by R. Kormos, C. Boesch, M.I. Bakarr and T. N. Butynski.  Chapter 10, Pp.77-87.  IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group.

Thompson, H., A. Siaka, A. Lebbie, S. W. Evans, D. Hoffmann and E. Sande.  2004. International Species Action Plan for White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus. Birdlife International, Nairobi, Kenya and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Sandy, Bedfordshire, UK.

Lebbie, A. R. and N. Burgess.  2004a.  "Western Guinea Lowland Forest".  In Terrestrial Ecoregions of Africa and Madagascar: A Conservation Assessment, edited by N. Burgess, J D’Amico Hales, E. Underwood, E. Dinerstein, D. Olson, I. Itoua, J. Schipper, T. Ricketts, and K. Newman.  Pp219-221.  Island Press, Washington. DC.

Lebbie, A. R. and N. Burgess.  2004b.  "Guinea Montane Forest". In Terrestrial Ecoregions of Africa and Madagascar: A Conservation Assessment, edited by N. Burgess, J D’Amico Hales, E. Underwood, E. Dinerstein, D. Olson, I. Itoua, J. Schipper, T. Ricketts, and K. Newman. Pp.221-223.  Island Press, Washington. DC.

Lebbie, A. R. and N. Burgess.  2004c.  "Eastern Guinea Lowland Forest". In Terrestrial Ecoregions of Africa and Madagascar: A Conservation Assessment, edited by N. Burgess, J D’Amico Hales, E. Underwood, E. Dinerstein, D. Olson, I. Itoua, J. Schipper, T. Ricketts, and K. Newman.  Pp223-224.  Island Press, Washington. DC.

Ake-Assi, L., A. Lebbie and E. K. Konan.  2005. Le flore des Forêt Classée de la Haute Dodo et du Cavally, Côte d’Ivoire. RAP Bulletin of Biological Assessment 34:35-38; 125-148.

Lebbie, A. R. and R. P. Guries.  2008. “The Role of Sacred Groves in Biodiversity Conservation in Sierra Leone”.  In African Sacred Groves: Ecological Dynamics and Social Change, edited by M. J. Sheridan and C. Nyamweru.  Chapter 3.  Pp. 42-61.  Ohio University Press.

Cheek M, Challen G, Lebbie A, Banks H, Barberá P, Riina R.  2016.  Discovering Karima (Euphorbiaceae), a New Crotonoid Genus from West Tropical Africa Long Hidden within Croton. PLoS ONE 11(4): e0152110. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0152110.

Kallon A, Lebbie A, Sturm B, Garnett T and Wadsworth R.  2017.  Comparative studies of fish smoking and solar drying in the Sierra Leone artisanal fishing industry.  Journal of Stored Products and Postharvest Research 8(3):40-48.

Lebbie, A, Kouame F and Kouassi E.  2017.  Specialization in the use of ethnomedicinal plants in Rivercess County, Liberia.  Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 11(14):264-274.

Lebbie, A, and M. Turay.  2017.  Prevalence of snakebites and Use of antivenom plants in Southern Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone Journal of Biomedical Research 9(1):7-13.

Martin C, van der Burgt X, Momoh J and Lebbie A.  2017.  Ledermanniella yiben sp. nov. (Podostemaceae), Critically Endangered at the proposed Yiben Reservoir, Sierra Leone.  Kew Bulletin 72(31):1-7.

Martin C, Feika A, Lebbie A, Goyder D, Tchiengue B, Sene O, Tchouto P, and van der Burgt X.  2017. A synoptic revision of Inversodicraea Engl. ex R.E. Fries (Podostemaceae).  Blumea (International Journal of Taxonomy and Plant Geography) 62:125-156.

Lebbie A, R. Wadsworth, J. Saidu and C. Bangura C. 2017.  Predictors of Hypertension in a Population of Undergraduate Students in Sierra Leone.  International Journal of Hypertension.  Article ID 8196362, 10 pages.

Martin C, and Lebbie A.  2018.  Lebbiea (Podostemaceae-Podostemoideae), a new, nearly extinct genus with foliose tepals, in Sierra Leone.  PLoS ONE. (Accepted for Publication).