Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield
My current research interests centre around green infrastructure and climate change mitigation, with a strong emphasis on providing recommendations on plant species choice with respect to eco-system function (city cooling, thermal insulation, flood tolerance, biodiversity enhancement, etc.). This includes currently supervising PhD projects on improving the thermal performance of buildings through appropriate plant selection e.g. on both green walls and green roofs. I am also interested in identifying those plant species robust enough to tolerate urban conditions (both current and future), whilst meeting their specifications for performance. Recent studies include investigations into Mediterranean species that tolerate winter flooding, and how warmer autumns affect development of young ornamental trees.
Developing more sustainable landscape management techniques is also a key driver in much of my research, and I have been involved in a number of projects investigating more efficient use of resources (water, organic waste streams as soil amendments, alternative growing media and energy). I led a DEFRA LINK project – Efficient use of water in horticulture which proposed a 2/3 reduction in water use during the production of ornamental plants. This project involved 14 partner organizations and was rated 9/10 by DEFRA – one of the highest ranking scores at the time. I have also more recently conducted projects evaluating the use of grey water for landscape applications. I work closely with industry partners, for example the Horticultural Trades Association on the ‘carbon footprint’ of plant production and maintenance; and the Royal Horticultural Society on maximizing invertebrate biodiversity through appropriate use of garden ornamentals.
As a landscape horticulturalist, I also am very keen to understand more about how people relate to the landscape and what sorts of plant-based designs provide strong resonance with the public and why? I am particularly interested the relationship between plants, ‘naturalistic’ landscapes and human well-being. As such I have worked on a number of consultations with stakeholders in this field, including MIND, the horticultural therapy charity THRIVE, The Royal Neurological Hospital and the Landscape Institute.