About this site
Grant no's 279981, 279984 & 279970. Period, Nov./Dec. 2010 to Oct./Nov. 2013.
It is always hard to pick a favourite. During my postdoctoral studies I spent many a happy hour, although often cold and wet, in fields of Winter Wheat, Triticum aestivum, searching for linyphiid spiders. Arachnophobes need not be alarmed though, as these small money spiders are only about 1-6mm in length. These spiders feed on agricultural pests such as aphids and they were part of my investigations on how prey biodiversity affects predator fitness and hence potential to control pests in crops. I have to admit that at the time I was more interested in what was on or under the plant rather than the plant itself. Since working at Kew, I have developed my interest in plants and hopefully have absorbed a tiny bit of knowledge, being surrounded by experts.
In the end I have plumped for the rather more showy Bird of Paradise plant, Strelitzia reginae. This native South African plant reminds me of my first role at Kew, as part of the African Plants Initiative Project. Working for this herbarium specimen digitisation project took me away from UK agricultural fields and gave me a more global outlook, I even had the opportunity to visit Cape Town and the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.
Sarah Phillips is the project manager, and will monitor progress and ensure that communications between the consortium members in the different partner organisations is effective. She comes into the project from managing the Herbarium specimen catalogue at Kew and has played an active role in making Herbarium specimen data more accessible through her support of digitisation projects. She is interested to learn more about how end users utilise the data that is made available to them with the aim of improving how information is presented.