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.
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