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.
Dr Natasha de Vere is Head of Science at the National Botanic Garden of Wales and a Senior Lecturer in Botany at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University.
She is a botanist with particular interest in conservation biology (BA hons Biology, MSc Plant Taxonomy, PhD Plant Conservation Genetics) and also a qualified teacher with over 17 years of teaching and lecturing experience.
Before taking up her post at the Garden, she worked for six years as conservation officer for the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, responsible for conservation research programmes within three zoos and three nature reserves in the UK and ten countries overseas, mostly in Africa.
The main emphasis of her research is the conservation of Wales’ biodiversity and, in a time of climate change, using Wales as a nationwide laboratory for understanding ecosystem processes.
A major success has been DNA barcoding the entire native flora of Wales – making Wales the first nation in the world to achieve this. The project has now extended to DNA barcoding the rest of the UK flora and the development of applications to use this resource for biodiversity conservation and to improve people’s lives. A key current research area is using DNA metabarcoding to understand pollinator foraging preferences.