I’m a zoologist, author and presenter/on-screen expert. I’ve been fascinated by animals for as long as I can remember, an interest that led to a prize-winning, first class degree in zoology at Bangor University and a PhD in insect ecology at the University of Leeds. I’m currently a visiting research fellow at the University of Leeds, a visiting fellow at the University of Essex and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. My scientific publications can be seen here.
As well as observing and studying the animals I can find here in the UK I’ve travelled widely in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Southeast Asia, ever searching for interesting and elusive beasts. I’ve always had a soft-spot for the arthropods, but the sheer diversity of animal forms and lifestyles mesmerises me, which was the motivation for my latest book – Animal Earth. This book is an unbiased exploration and celebration of animal diversity illustrated with more than 500 stunning images.
I’m enthusiastic to share my fascination for the incredible living things that surround us with anyone who will listen. I was part of an expedition to Burma with the BBC Natural History Unit as a presenter, the product of which was broadcast as the three part series – Wild Burma: Nature’s Lost Kingdom – on BBC 2 at the end of 2013. This was the first time in sixty years that a large film crew had been allowed into the country and during my time over there I discovered a new genus and many new species of insect. During the first broadcast of this series, each episode was seen by two million people in the UK alone and it has since been repeated here many times and broadcast around the world, with total views in the tens of millions. My youtube clips, such as this one, have had over a million views in total.
I have also featured as a presenter/on-screen expert on the CBBC series, Wild (live and recorded segments), the Sky 1 series, Extreme Fears, Extreme Cures where I helped ten arachnophobes overcome their fear and I have done some filming as an on-screen expert for the BBC’s World’s Weirdest Events.
My most recent book, Animal Earth, was highly commended in a personal letter from Sir David Attenborough and has been translated into German and Japanese. To date this book has sold around 30,000 copies and is on the reading list for zoology students at many universities
Here’s a recent interview from Mongabay where I discuss my introduction to zoology and Animal Earth. My work has been very widely covered in the media, some of which you can see here. In addition to the above, as my academic background is in ecological entomology and conservation I also undertake ecological surveys and provide advice on habitat creation.
In 2016, I assisted David Wilcockson at Aberystwyth University with the design, creation and delivery of a flagship tropical zoology field course in the Peruvian Amazon. Every year we will take around 20 students on this course to introduce them to the incredible diversity of life that can be found in the tropics and how to study it. I also working with the expedition leader, James Dyer, to offer people the opportunity to get involved with unique expeditions and adventures.
As of 2015 I was awarded the Alumnus of the Year award by Bangor University and have since become a member of their alumni advisory board. I am also a student mentor for the University of Leeds. Current projects include more book ideas, exploring insects as a source of novel pharmaceuticals and biomaterials (with David Wilcockson at Aberystwyth University) as part of an international initiative, devising new techniques for sampling terrestrial arthropods and planning further expeditions.
Thanks to Patrick Avery, Anwar Mamon, Justine Evans and Adam Oldroyd for the images above.