I was appointed as a Lecturer in Ecology at Keele University in 2008, almost 10 years to the day after graduating with a dual degree in Biology and Geology.
I have studied at a number of academic institutions (Keele University, 1998; Aberdeen University, Scotland, 1999; Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 2002; University of New Brunswick, Canada, 2007), and am currently working towards my Master in Teaching and Learning at Keele. My PhD, “nature’s graveyard”, examined forest stand dynamics after a spruce budworm outbreak and was funded by a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship.
Research and scholarship
My research focuses on plant ecology, with specialisation in tree-insect interactions, dead wood ecology, disturbance dynamics, forest mensuration, and the application of GIS and remote sensing. My PhD student, Austin Haffenden, successfully defended his thesis on “Model forest system: even-aged Douglas fir plantation with invasive Rhododendron” in 2014, and is now a postdoctoral researcher at IRSTEA in France.
I am a contributor to the Global Edition of Campbell Biology, including a case study on sustainable development of a former colliery site at Silverdale for the upcoming 11th edition. In 2013 I published a book on “biosecurity: the socio-politics of invasive species and infectious diseases” with Prof Andy Dobson and Dr Kezia Barker, which came out of our very successful five-part ESRC funded seminar series on the “Sociopolitics of biosecurity: science, policy and practice”.
I believe in taking an applied and field-based approach to teaching that utilises real-life scenarios so that students gain key employability skills. In 2011, The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management highlighted a “skills gap” in graduating students, partly due to a decline in fieldwork. The plight of fieldwork was highlighted by an article by Prof John Warren, P. Ashton, Peter Thomas and I in an article for the 26 Feb 2015 issue of the Times Higher Education Supplement entitled “Save field biology skills from extinction risks (endangered species)”. I have recently published a study on the use of “Mobile learning devices as collaborative tools to enhance biological identification skills in the lab and field” in the Journal of Academic Development in Education. The iPad study was funded by a Keele Learning and Professional Development Centre teaching grant and stemmed from engagement with the HEA Enhancing Fieldwork Learning showcase events, and was presented at the First iPads in HE conference in Cyprus in 2014.
I have always been interested in conservation and am an active member of GeoConservation Staffordshire, running many successful conservation work parties around the county. These activities have been championed in two publications: “a reserve visit to Brown End Quarry” with Patrick Cossey and Ian Stimpson in the Spring 2015 issue of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust; and “The enemy of your enemy is your friend” with Ian Stimpson for the September 2014 issue of the GeoConservation UK Newsletter [p11 (3), Vol 5]. I am also the Keele University representative for Friends of Silverdale Country Park, and encourage liaison between Keele students and local conservation organisations as part of their academic studies (research projects) and extra-curricular volunteering. Such a “joined up” approach facilitates students’ access to work experience and generation of vital data needed for an evidence-based approach to conservation that can be lacking in a sector with limited financial resources.
LSC-10033 Ecology and Environment
LSC-20055 Life at the Extremes (Module Manager) [LSC-20054 semester 2 version]
LSC-20062 Living Together
ESC-20038 Integrated Environmental Field Studies
ESC-20032 Environmental Analytical Methods (Supervisor)
LSC 30046 Life Sciences Single Experimental Project (Supervisor)
LSC-30049 Life Sciences Double Experimental Project (Supervisor)
LSC-30050 Life Sciences Dissertation (Supervisor)
LSC-30017 Trees in their Environment
LSC-30043 Conservation Biology (Module Manager)
ESC-30019 Applied Environmental Science Independent Research Project (Supervisor)
ESC-30031 Environmental Sustainability Dissertation (Supervisor)
Year 4 (MSc)
LSC-40026 Trees, Forests and Global Change