The role of the Head of Science is to co-ordinate the Garden’s scientific research programme. Our research concentrates on biodiversity conservation with current research areas including DNA barcoding the UK flora, DNA metabarcoding to understand honeybee and wild pollinator foraging and conservation genetics of threatened plants. The role is widely involved in public engagement with science, including developing arts-science collaborations. The Head of Science is responsible for the Garden’s library, archives, herbarium and apiary.
I am Head of Science at the National Botanic Garden of Wales and a senior lecturer at Aberystwyth University. I have been responsible for the Botanic Garden’s Science Programme for the last 12 years, where we focus on using genomic tools to conserve plants and pollinators. We use DNA metabarcoding to understand the foraging preferences of both wild pollinators and honeybees. Genomic approaches are also applied to help monitor and conserve threatened plants and habitats.
Public engagement with science is a core part of my work, especially using art-science to explore scientific ideas. I am passionate about the social role of Botanic Gardens and lead the ‘Growing the Future’ and ‘Biophilic Wales’ projects, that are dedicated to increasing the health and well-being of people, biodiversity and the environment throughout Wales.
National Botanic Garden of Wales
The National Botanic Garden of Wales is a charity dedicated to the research and conservation of biodiversity, sustainability, lifelong learning and the enjoyment of its visitors. It opened in May 2000 and since then has become the most visited garden within Wales.
The Botanic Garden is home to over 5000 plant taxa, with important conservation collections of the Welsh flora, along with plants from Mediterranean climate zones and temperate forest habitats. The Mediterranean collection is housed within the Great Glasshouse, designed by Norman Foster, it is one of the largest single span glasshouses in the world. Other features include an arboretum, systematics garden, Welsh flora display, bog garden, tropical house with butterflies and bee garden with apiaries.
The Botanic Garden is set within a 200 Ha estate that also includes Waun Las National Nature Reserve. The Nature Reserve is managed as an organic farm and contains flower-rich meadows, woodlands and lakes.