I am a PhD student based mainly in the Department of Life Sciences at the Natural History Museum (NHM) and also in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London. My work is supervised by Dr Silvia Pressel (NHM), Prof Martin Bidartondo (Imperial), Dr Anne Jungblut (NHM) and Dr Rebecca Cairns-Wicks (St Helena Research Institute).
My research focuses on bryophytes (mosses, liverworts and hornworts) and their associated microorganisms. As plant-microbe interactions have significant influence on the plant phenotype, stress and pathogen resistance and nutrient acquisition, this knowledge is important for conservation and restoration purposes. The field component of my work takes place on the small and very remote South Atlantic island of St Helena, where the Peaks National Park serves as a refuge for the last remnants of the island's native cloud forest. The island, despite its size and the extremely negative anthropogenic influence through the centuries, still hosts a third of the endemic species of the UK and her Overseas Territories.
My work serves to provide baseline knowledge on the microbial diversity of this biologically unique location, as well as to study how the structure and function of bryophyte-associated microbial communities change with host species, habitat type, environmental degradation and climate change. This will not only contribute to understanding the ecology and evolution of bryophytes, but will also serve to inform the St Helena Peaks National Park Conservation Management Plan. I have an additional interest in studying the mycorrhiza-like symbiosis between bryophytes and fungi, especially with the subphylum Mucoromycotina (Mucoromycotina fine root endophytes; MFREs). My broader interests span the systematics, evolution and ecology of protists, algae and fungi.
I am funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and by my CASE partner, the St Helena Research Institute. I am also a member of the Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet Doctoral Training Partnership (SSCP DTP), hosted by the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment.
PhD in Bryophyte-Microbe Interactions, Natural History Museum, London, and Imperial College London, 2022-present
MRes Biosystematics, Imperial College London and Natural History Museum, London, 2021-2022
BSc (Hons) Biodiversity and Conservation, University College London, 2018-2021