Personal profile


I am an ecologist, with a primary focus on the community diversity and ecosystem function of terrestrial microbial communities. The arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are my core research area, where I have been a developer and early adopter of DNA profiling of communities. My work has been highly influential, demonstrating the application of community ecology paradigms developed for macrofauna and flora to molecular profiling of soil microbes, and using this framework to study responses to environmental change, both natural and anthropogenic.

I also have a strong interest and research profile in rhizosphere ecology in both natural and agricultural systems, including saltmarshes, SE Asian dipterocarp forest and UK agricultural systems. Through my work packages within the NERC Soil Security Programme, I have significant datasets in preparation on fungal, bacterial and eukaryote soil microbes, focusing on developing high throughput methods to study functional genes, to move community profiling towards useful measures of nutrient cycling and climate change. I have also had a long association with the National Bee Unit, working to develop identification methods for strain types of honey bee foulbrood diseases, using whole genome sequencing and comparative genomics.

Throughout my career I have used DNA profiling of individuals, populations and communities to reveal ecological patterns. I have worked with each new development in high throughput methods, and their quantitative and bioinformatics analysis, including most recently, Illumina MiSeq/HiSeq and Oxford Nanopore Minion and Promethion technology



Education/Academic qualification

Postgraduate Certificate Academic Practice (PgCAP), University of York

Award Date: 1 Mar 2010

Ph.D, Institute of Ecology and Resource Management , University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jul 1994

B.Sc. (Hons) Ecological Sciences with Honours in Ecology, University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jul 1988

External positions

Trustee (Elected), British Ecological Society

20 Dec 201915 Dec 2022


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