I was educated at my local comprehensive school from 11 to 16 and attended a private school for sixth form. I obtained my first degree from Cambridge and a PhD from Imperial, London where I then spent a further three years as a junior researcher. I then studied for a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) and spent three years teaching in a large state secondary school in London. Following this I moved to Zurich where I spent 10 years running a small research group. In 2013 I returned to the UK to take up my current position in Oxford.
I am passionate about teaching. In contrast to many colleges, I give most of the first-year tutorials to the Queen’s students myself. These involve the standard essay writing and discussion but also additional activities centred on my extensive natural history collection! I give quantitative methods (QM) tutorials to the second years and prepare the third years for both the general and the data interpretation papers.
I am an ecologist with a particular focus on plants. I have engaged with a broad range of topics, but at the moment I am particularly interested in how plant species coexist and in the symbiotic relationships between algae and other organisms. These relationships allow many other organisms, apart from plants, to take advantage of photosynthesis. I have several DPhil students in my research group working on a diverse range of topics. In addition, I usually supervise a small number of undergraduate projects.
- Is ‘Peak N’ key to understanding the timing of flowering in annual plants, New Phytologist (205) 2015, 918-927
- Land-use intensity and the effects of organic farming on biodiversity: a hierarchical meta-analysis, Journal of Applied Ecology (51) 2014, 746-755
- Ecology’s dark matter: the elusive and enigmatic niche, Basic and Applied Ecology (15) 2014, 93-100
- Coexistence, niches, and the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning, Ecology Letters (16) 2013, 116-127
- Identification of 100 fundamental ecological questions, Journal of Ecology (101) 2013, 58-67
- Natural enemies drive geographic variation in plant defenses, Science (338) 2012 116-119
- Adaptation and extinction in experimentally fragmented landscapes, PNAS (107) 2010, 19120-19125