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I started my career at CABI as a casual technician and have since gained comprehensive knowledge and experience in biocontrol programmes including project development, and project delivery. I have also had the opportuntiy to gain practical experience of field entomology, quarantine laboratory studies and have undertaken fieldwork in 18 countries.
I recently managed the Japanese knotweed biocontrol programme for the UK, USA and Canada which has culminated in the first officially-sanctioned release of a weed biocontrol agent in any EU Country. I also continue to provide strategic leadership for three other biocontrol projects against Water Framework Directive weed targets on behalf of Defra.
My career has involved considerable overseas fieldwork, and coordination of collaborators and supervision of students, and am competent in natural enemy surveys, experimental design & implementation, data collection and analysis, running projects and managing staff and budgets and the eventual production of reports for international and governmental sponsors.
I am regularly invited to speak at national and international conferences on invasives and have served on the organizing committees and chaired sessions at events. I have had considerable interaction with the public and all parts of the media to make CABI’s work known to a wider audience and make science accessible.
I have also trained, supervised and taught up to and including post-graduate level on the Imperial College Pest Management MSc. Course and co-supervision of PhD students.
I am on the EC Working group for the development of the Invasive Species Strategy for Europe and on the editorial board of the journal Neobiota.
Scientists at our centre in Egham carry out scientific research, international development projects and microbial services. Over the years its work has supported hundreds of projects and reached thousands of farmers in countries across the world.
Breakthroughs in science and technology are helping overcome global food production challenges and changing the worlds’ agriculture. A new Centre for Applied Crop Science is ensuring the UK has the necessary capital needed to deliver a cutting edge platform to support agriculture in the UK and beyond. CABI is the lead partner in three main work strands namely: Novel control discovery and implementation, Collection of biotic crop pests, and Horizon scanning and international development.
Crassula helmsii is an invasive water weed that dominates still or slow flowing water bodies. It’s spreading throughout the UK and has the potential to out-compete native flora and reduce oxygen levels by forming dense mats. Chemicals are not an option so CABI were commissioned by the UK government to investigate the possibility of controlling it using biological control. This includes lots of testing by our scientists to ensure that any potential agent is safe for release.
Floating pennywort is an invasive aquatic plant that can over-run water bodies in the UK, and is threatening habitats, native plants, fish and insects. Also a problem across much of Europe, this plant has rapid growth and can regenerate from small fragments. Management is mainly limited to mechanical clearance which is expensive and often ineffective. Through comprehensive host range testing, this project aims to identify the safest and most effective biocontrol agent to keep the plant in check.
Japanese knotweed is highly damaging. It spreads extremely quickly, preventing native vegetation from growing and has significant impacts on infrastructure. Current control methods rely mainly on chemicals. Research however has identified a tiny psyllid from Japan as a suitable and safe agent to control Japanese knotweed in the UK. The current aim of this project is to achieve establishment and impact of the psyllid on Japanese knotweed in the UK.