Ross grew up across southern Africa and developed a dual interest in mining and wildlife governance. He studied a B.Com in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Cape Town (UCT), where he also completed an M.Phil in Public Policy. He was awarded his PhD in Economics, also at UCT, in 2019. His thesis sought to explain institutional evolution in the oil-wealthy petro-states of Nigeria and Angola. He started his wildlife research career at the South African Institute of International Affairs, where he worked as a senior researcher from 2013 to 2019. His initial work oversaw a project that examined every element of the ivory trade, from park to port to end consumer. He has published in one of the world’s top journals, Ecological Economics, and a wide array of other outlets. Ross is currently a freelance independent economist who works with The Conservation Action Trust and the EMS Foundation.