top of page

Dr. Desislava Dimitrova is Associate Professor in Botany at the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and is the head of the research group "Plant Diversity and Local Development". She graduated from the Faculty of Biology of St. Kliment Ohridski University as a Master of Science in Botany, and in 2002 she defended her PhD in Botany at the Institute of Botany of BAS. She specialized karyosystematics at the Institute of Botany of the University of Vienna, where she prepared part of her thesis. From 2002 to 2008 she was the contact person for the Bulgarian Biodiversity Platform. Since 2010 Dr. Dimitrova initiated and developed the ethnobotany topic at the newly established Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research. The subject of her research is the culinary traditions of local communities, analyzed through the lens of her biological background.

In 2004 Dr. Dimitrova founded Slow Food in Bulgaria, a non-profit organization, recognized by Slow Food International as their Bulgarian partner. The mission of the organization is the preservation of food diversity and traditional knowledge related to it. The organization supports a network of food communities that preserve and develop local culinary traditions and food biodiversity. Slow Food in Bulgaria organizes seminars, workshops, conferences to broaden people's interest on such important topics as food choice and its socio-economic and eco-cultural importance, the favourable legal regulation of food production by small farmers, sustainable rural development in Bulgaria, educating informed consumers whose food choices lead to limiting climate change and loss of agrobiodiversity.

Dr. Dimitrova was the representative for the Balkans in the International Council of the Movement (2007-2022). She initiated and organized the first two editions of Terra Madre Balkans, the regional forum of Slow Food. She also organized two editions of Terra Madre Bulgaria (national Slow Food forum) and of Terra Madre Belasitsa, which brings together producers of traditional food from Bulgaria, Northern Macedonia and Greece, on whose territory the mountain is located. The Slow Food forums organized by Dr. Dimitrova include thematic scientific conferences/workshops that broaden the knowledge on the socio-ecological and cultural aspects of food.

The traditional knowledge preserved by the food communities in the Bulgaria Slow Food network is the subject of systematic research work in the Plant Diversity and Local Development research group, funded by both basic and applied research projects from various national and international donors. The work focuses on food biodiversity, the role of traditional knowledge for sustainable use of natural resources, production of traditional food in the light of climate change and ecosystem services. In partnership with experts from the Belasitsa Nature Park, Dr. Dimitrova explores the opportunities for engaging local communities in activities related to the implementation of management plans of protected areas. The developed approach serves as a model in the management of protected areas and Natura 2000 sites.

Besides the scientific publications in reputable international journals Dr. Dimitrova is also the author of children's books ("Delicious Geography" and "Urban Geography"), as well as a translator of popular science books such as "100 million years of food" by Stephen Li, and "Eating to extinction" by Dan Saladino (in print). She publishes articles in the Bulgarian media on various food-related topics.

bottom of page