I'm a PhD student at the University of Sheffield. That's the main thing going on in my life at the moment. I love wildlife and outdoorness; getting on my bike or going for long walks in the Peak District. But I also like coding, and steam trains. I'm a huge fan of botanical gardens and I have a terrible habit of taking lots of pictures of plants and never getting around to identifying them.

About My Research

The patterns of growth, reproduction and death in organisms vary so wildly from species to species. Some species grow fast, reproduce vast numbers of offspring, and die young. Others take a slower pace, reproduce more considerately, and live to a ripe old age. Unfortunately, the diversity of life history strategies is not just a sliding scale from 0 to 1, ecology is never that simple. However, field scientists have collected data on the demography of hundreds of plants and animal species, these have been collated into the COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database and the COMADRE Plant Matrix Database.

This volume of data presents a fascinating opportunity to quantify the spectrum of life history strategies - can we put different species into neat little boxes and classify them with neat labels? Probably not, but maybe there are some general trends. All this glorious data also presents a whole array of challenges and complications, so I’m developing methods (involving imaginary plants) to help tackle these challenges. Aside from my primary research focus, I'm also keen on finding ineresting ways to present science through websites and videos.

My PhD is funded by the Leverhulme Centre for Advanced Biological Modelling which aims to harness cutting edge mathematical and computing skills to address major problems in biology. More PhD positions are available here. I'm affiliated with the University of Oxford through my supervisor Rob Salguero-Gómez and Salgo Team.

Lab Groups

I am part of Dr Dylan Child's lab group. We don't have a website yet because Dylan hasn't got around to finishing it. But, from his webpage on the University of Sheffield he says: "I am particularly keen to understand how demographic, environmental and ecological processes interact to influence these processes. I also develop theory and methods for modelling and analysis of structured populations". That's pretty cool.

I'm a member of Salgo Team, the research group of Dr Rob Salguero-Gómez. The group's ultimate goal is to develop an integrative academic research plan to use molecular, anatomic and physiological approaches to examine demographic aspects of an organism' life cycle through a combination angles including field and lab work, as well as ecological modeling and comparative biology.

COMPADRE & COMADRE Matrix Databases

I have been helping to develop the latest iteration of the COMPADRE & COMADRE database; migrating to an online relational database and Flask (Python-based framework) web application. This started with work I did in the summer of 2016 during internship with the Exeter node of the COMPADRE & COMADRE network. This is a project spearheaded by Dave Hodgson's research group in the Cornwall Campus of The University of Exeter. You can see an early preview of the database here. We hope that the project will be online late 2017.

Update: On August 5, the COMPADRE/COMADRE team was awarded an NSF (National Science Foundation) grant to further develop our matrix databases. The funded project, “An Open-Access Global Repository of Plant and Animal Demographic Data”, will be led by Judy Che-Castaldo at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL. Read more about this here.

Have a taster of my work! Here is all the data for one population of Ranunculus acris (Buttercup) from the COMAPDRE Plant Matrix Database as presented in the Demography Database. It's a neat, visual and hierachical way of presenting the data.

Population Name: A 2 matrices 1968 - 1971 GBR, Europe

Ecoregion : Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests Location: 53.2337, -4.01736 Altitude: 10.0m Within site replication : 27 (1 m sq)

Click on the sections below to view individual matrix models

  • SeedSeedlingMatureVegetative daughter

    Observations: Corrected by Franco Periodicity Extra: 1 Treatment info: Grazing

  • SeedSeedlingMatureVegetative daughter

    Observations: Uncorrected Periodicity Extra: 1 Treatment info: Grazing

  • Demography Database | Github Repository | COMPADRE & COMADRE Homepage

    I make YouTube videos!

    Okay, I make them very occasionally... However, when I've completed my first year of PhD and things are cruising nicely I'm keen to make some videos about my research. There are heaps and heaps of educational videos on youtube but no videos about plant demography. I hope to fill that void, so watch this space!

    Tenerife Field Course

    We went to Tenerife as part of the final year of my BSc in Conservation Biology and Ecology. I produced a mini-series of one minute videos showcasing the spectacular landscapes and the diverse wildlife we saw around the islands.

    Cornish Coastal Wildflowers

    I had brought all my video-making gear with me but I wasn't sure what video I was going to make. I reached Rosemullion Head, with its abundance of wonderful wildflowers, and spontaneously made this video. I'm very proud of it and want to make videos like it soon.

    Allotment Watch


    Ronan stands in an area we cleared, next to our newly discovered apple (or pear) tree!

    My housemate, Ronan, and I have decided to get an allotment. We've just started so it's a little overgrown at the moment. Hopefully as things develop there will be lots of nice pictures of tasty vegetables and fruit here, but for the moment it's just pictures of some weeds.

    Current status: An overgrown mess

    To do:

    • Clear the weeds
    • Have a allotment warming party
    • Plant some things to overwinter
    • Sort out the "pond"

    2017 Harvest:

    • Some blackberries
    • An old TV
    • A big metal barrel


    I also write music for fun, you can check out my Soundcloud here. More recently I've been jamming with my housemate and recording bits and bobs, there may be some stuff in the pipeline! Check out my favourite track I've written here:

    And finally...

    Thanks for visiting my website, hope you enjoyed it. Any questions or thoughts? Ping me a tweet!