PhD Thesis Acknowledgements

Today, I submitted my PhD thesis and, while the whole thing can’t be online just yet, I really wanted to share the acknowledgements section:

I am grateful to so many people for their support during my PhD that thanking them all sufficiently would take up more space than this thesis itself. I hope that, through my actions and words outside this text, they know how much they have meant to me.

Read more "PhD Thesis Acknowledgements"

How not to name a conference: remembering Trop Con 2020

A year ago today, we named a conference ‘TropCon’. It was a unique name for a unique conference. Combining the subjects of the Trop(ical) and Con(servation) special interest groups of the British Ecological Society, we set out to create two exciting days of scientific tweets and idea sharing online. It turned out, however, that there was a reason the name of our conference had never been used before…

Read more "How not to name a conference: remembering Trop Con 2020"

Are red greens greener than green greens?

Yesterday, my mum messaged me to ask a question that had just occurred to her:

“Are red greens healthier than green greens?”

She’d just bought a red cabbage instead of green to go with her dinner and was wondering if there was any nutritional difference between them or whether it was all about the colours. As someone who knows a little bit about plants, I was her first port of call but, as someone who has absolutely no expertise in nutrition, I also knew I was out of my depth…

Read more "Are red greens greener than green greens?"

Canopy Science and the Life Epiphytic

Tropical rain forests have been a source of boundless fascination and discovery for as long as people have been exploring them. From Victorian naturalists like Wallace and Darwin who found their inspiration for theories of natural selection, to the latest advances in medicines and climate change mitigation, rain forests have revealed countless key insights to the workings of our natural world. Despite this however, there remain vast ecosystems that we have yet to study in depth and the largest of these is surely the canopy.

Aside from the deep ocean, the rainforest canopy is probably the least studied natural ecosystem on the planet and the reason why is obvious: those trees can be over one hundred metres tall! Because of this, getting to the top of them is understandably tricky and it wasn’t until fairly recently that the skills of climbing and academia came together and the field of canopy research took off. Before that, most studies of canopy species relied on either smoking them out of the tree or shooting them down with a rifle.

Read More

About Me

Talking with people about trees – I am a science communicator, specialising in all things forests!

Social media is a vital tool for opening up conversations around science and is an area I have been particularly enthusiastic for since opening my first YouTube channel in 2011. These days I mostly work across Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and blog spaces to highlight fun facts and social issues. From running online and fully accessible conferences like #TropiCon21 (with an audience of over half a million accounts!) to taking over accounts like @RealScientists to originate the #LGBTQscience hashtag, I put an emphasis on bringing people together in their enjoyment of STEM subjects.

In the physical world, I give presentations to a wide range of audiences, from primary school children to university academics. To enable greater interactivity, I also develop and run activities for outreach events. At their best, I believe that communication activities should inspire just as much as they inform. Launched in Spring 2022, I developed the University of Leeds campus tree trail with a focus on accessibility so that everyone could learn about and enjoy the science behind their local plant life. Read More