I’m a PhD student researching fungal communities in beech (Fagus sylvatica) trees, with regards to heart rot and origins of decay. I’m funded by Cardiff University, Natural England, The Crown Estate and City of London. I hold a BSc in Biology from the University of Sheffield (2011) and MSc in Conservation and Land Management from Bangor University (2012).
Most recently I worked with the National Trust for Scotland through the TCV Natural Talent scheme, where I trained in fungal identification and conducted mycological surveys across the Scottish uplands. In addition to research, I enjoy communicating science to various audiences. I have given recent talks to the Institute of Chartered Foresters, the Arboricultural Association and the Ancient Tree Forum. In August 2017, I attended Green Man Festival as the science communicator for ‘Unsung Heroes of the Planet’ - the world’s first fungal opera.
Fungal decay in the interior of tree trunks and large branches, termed heart rot, is a natural process that is ecologically essential for a range of organisms, including rare invertebrates and fungi. We know relatively little about heart rot: when fungi enter and establish in trees, how communities change through time, and whether this affects patterns and speed of decay. I’m exploring fungal community composition using traditional culture methods and next generation sequencing. I am also investigating the ecology of the fungi involved through species interaction experiments. Finally, in selected sites with declining numbers of hollow trees, I am attempting to induce heart rot by inoculating suitable fungi into undecayed trees.