I am a BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellow working on plant-microbe insect interactions. Currently we are tackling the global problem of sustainably feeding a growing population. I study how the growth of crop plants can be influenced by the different species that exist in agroecosystems. My research investigates how we can use beneficial soil bacteria and earthworms to increase plant yield while simultaneously defending against insect pests - essentially using beneficial species interactions to mitigate the loss of yield we see when we reduce chemical pesticide and synthetic fertilizer inputs (for example in organic farming). A fuller understanding of how beneficial species work together to improve plant health can lead to identification of important molecular pathways involved in biocontrol for future plant breeding, and provide advice for exploiting beneficial interactions in our agricultural systems.
I studied BSc Zoology and MSc Quantitative Genetics and Genome Analysis at The University of Edinburgh, before completing my PhD at The University of Manchester in Ecological Community Genetics. I then spent 8 years as a postdoc and junior group leader at the Technical University of Munich, Germany where I led research projects, supervised PhD students, and taught courses in Ecology, Experimental Design, and Research Methods.