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The place I currently spend most of my time...

What is it?

Rothamsted Research is an agricultural research centre. In fact it's one of the oldest around and includes some of the longest running field experiments ever! (Park Grass was set up in 1856 and is still running now!)

The story goes: John Bennet Lawes, noted entrepreneur, set up a fertiliser company in 1842. Unfortunately at that time no one really believed that fertilisers were any good. So, in 1843, he enlisted the help of chemist: Joseph Henry Gilbert and set up field experiments to show everyone just how good artificial fertiliser could be...especially his own. It worked. He basically started the chemical fertiliser industry, made tonnes of money and wound up a fellow of the Royal Society. Lawes and Gilbert worked together for 57 years and Rothamsted has carried on the research ever since.

My Department:

I work in PIE: Plant and Invertebrate Ecology, the bug people. Probably the best department in Rothamsted or even the world (a little biased maybe?) We mostly inhabit Daniel Hall (named for one of the first big directors of Rothamsted) where you can find my office hidden away in room 302b.

My Groups:

Technically with two supervisors down here I span two groups, The Pollination Group (AKA the bee people) and The Insect Pathology group that could probably do with renaming by now (we were thinking of calling ourselves: The Biodiversity, Ecology, Entomology and Farming Group...Or some other variation on the acronym: BEEF - we'd then be Beef Pies!) Both groups fit into the Insect Behaviour section of PIE and take up half of the top floor.


The Pollination group:

Dr Juliet Osborne: My supervisor and an expert at using the Harmonic Radar to examine the behaviour of various pollinators.

Jennifer Swain: Another Radar expert-she does all the fiddly transponder soldering! She is currently teaching me all there is to know about bee keeping...whilst learning herself. It's been fun:)

Dr Pete Kennedy: Bee keeper and scientist, a useful mix in this group.

Jason Lim: The expert technician behind the Harmonic Radar. He's the one who does all the technical stuff and gets the radar working.

Dr Alison Haughton: Currently collecting nectar from far too many flowers.

Dr Matthias Becher: Who is trying to model honeybee survival.

Dr Stephan Wolf: Who really likes the often ignored Drones.

Jon Carruthers: Almost one year into a PhD looking at whether energy crops (willow and oil seed rape) can provide food for bees.


The Insect Pathology group:

Dr Judy Pell: My supervisor and Fungi expert. A 5 minute conversation with her will last an hour:)

Dr Jason Baverstock: The go-to guy who knows where everything is hidden in the lab (including the bodies), makes sure I stop for coffee breaks

Martin Torrance: Expert at invertebrate IDing, badminton and buying MP3 players!

Dr Trish Wells: Ladybird expert and, havingcompleted her PhD, my go-to person when thinsg get too much! She puts up with my whining and gives great advice (especially about knitting)


The Students:

There are usually somewhere between 10 and 20 students per year although very rarely are all of us in the same place at the same time. As Rothamsted is a Agricultural Research Institute it cannot award PhDs so each student has to be linked to a university (as I'm linked to Warwick), and there's always training courses, field work, conferences and a multitude of other reasons to be anywhere but here. But once a year we have the Student's Symposium and find the time to tell everyone what exactly it is we've been doing.

This is most of us at the Symposium in 2008:


We tend to be a pretty sociable lot and various people manage to organise cinema trips, poker games, parties, beading club, pub quiz teams...the list goes on. We also have the student newsletter (the Grapevine) which is usually published monthly.

To welcome new students each year it is traditional to organise a Beer and Pizza night at the Pav (the on site bar where Vodka & lemonade costs only £1!). Naturally the night is always organised to be right before 'Research Day', a day of talks about various projects going on across the a warm dark room...where it is impossible to stay awake!

beer and pizze night

In case you were wondering I (white jeans on the left) am being tickled mercilessly by Nina!





The Manor 1 (Nick)

The Manor 2 (Nick)

Park Grass

Rothamsted 1930s

radar bumblebee

Harlequin eating aphid

Halloween 2009