Environment & Nature
I’ve just finished writing Around the World in 80 Plants, a companion volume to Around the World in 80 Trees, which was published in 2018. It’s a mix of plant science and human stories. I’ve been doing various associated events around the world. Around the World in 80 Plants will be published on April 15th 2021 in the UK and on April 22nd in the USA and Canada. Its already available in Italian. Other countries will follow soon after.
I’m on the Board of the wonderful Eden Project, in Cornwall and a member of the Council of Ambassadors of the WWF and of The Woodland Trust, which plants, protects and lobbies for trees. I am on the ‘syndic’, or Board, of Cambridge University Botanic Garden, who do scientific interpretation brilliantly and are a fabulous resource for plant scientists. I co-chaired a symposium at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and pulled together this summary on the sustainable use of plant genetic resources. I chaired a meeting of global champions of Food Forever, a campaign from the Crop Trust to maintain agricultural biodiversity, and have made some some short films in Namibia for Kew Gardens about desert-adapted plants.
I’m on the board of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, (which has sold >36 million computers for education and industry and trains young people to program) and recently finished my 6-year term at the Internet Watch Foundation (which works internationally with law-enforcement to curb the production, distribution and consumption of child sexual abuse imagery). I am an investor, adviser or non-exec with various tech start-ups including imin, Commonplace and Pagedip. I have previously chaired the judging for the Stationers’ Company Innovation Excellence Awards and have recently joined the Machine Intelligence Ethics Steering Committee of the UK Digital Catapult.
I have just become an Honorary Professor at the Birmingham Institute for Forest Research (BIFoR) in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham and am very much looking forward to helping the superb team there to achieve even greater impact with their work. After finishing my six-year term, I recently stepped down as Chair of Ravensbourne University London, a technology-focused creative arts and design college in Greenwich, London, and I have also recently finished three 5-year terms as Visiting Industrial Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol, specialising in science misconceptions. I chair the H.H. Wingate Foundation, which funds various education, development and cultural activities.
Talks & Events
I am a frequent public speaker, recently mostly on science engagement and on plants, trees and environment – topics related to my books, or occasionally on governance for non-profit organisations. You can find links to my TED talks, various podcasts and large festivals here.
With my business partner Dominic Tinley, I am co-director of Thoughtsmith Ltd. We consult with large public bodies, helping them to commission sustainable services that their audiences will learn from and find entertaining, and that can even generate income too! The company also advises universities on enhancing the public impact of their research. Here’s a piece in The Guardian about us.
In addition to my institutional chairing activities, I frequently chair events, both live and via zoom, such as global symposia for the Crop Trust, on gene banking and for various other non-profit organisations.