I study orchid-mycorrhizal fungi relationships, focusing on the specificity of orchid fungal interactions during germination and further development of orchids. Many orchids are rare and endangered in the wild and there is a growing commercial market for orchids due to their beautiful flowers and growth forms. This puts additional pressures on rare species, especially those that are not widely propagated.
Orchids are highly dependent on mycorrhizal fungi, relying on the formation of a symbiosis to induce germination and further growth of resultant plants. The aim of my study is to gain a better understanding of this symbiosis to ultimately aid the propagation of orchids both for conservation and horticulture.
As part of my wider interest in conservation, stainability and ecology I manage, develop and maintain an urban biodiverse area, the Michael Smith Building Quad. The Quad supports a number of habitats that are home to a diverse range of native flora and fauna. This space acts as an area for recreation, teaching and familiarising students with biological surveying techniques as well as engaging members of staff and students in outdoor activities such as species recording and gardening.
As well as conducting postgraduate research, I am an undergraduate demonstrator; teaching in lab practicals and a number of field courses in Manchester, Mallorca and Ecuador. I also have a broader interest in botany, ichthyology and terrestrial and aquatic biology.