Science Management

Prof Pete Hollingsworth, Director of Science​ and Deputy Keeper

I am a biodiversity scientist with a particular interest in understanding and conserving plant diversity. As Director of Science and Deputy Keeper I am responsible for managing a team of ca 100 staff, students and volunteers in the science division at RBGE.

 

 

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Dr Alex Davey

Science Policy & Impact Officer

With a broad background in biodiversity research, plant systematics, evolution and morphology, and experience of scientific writing and editing, I now help to align RBGE’s scientific research with the most pressing issues for biodiversity in Scotland and across the world. I aim to raise awareness…

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Rachael Brewer, PA to the Director of Science

Major Floras

Dr Mark Watson, Head of Major Floras

I have over 30 years’ experience in floristics, plant systematics, botanical nomenclature and biodiversity informatics. My work is centred on the Sino-Himalayan region, especially Nepal, where I collaborate with international and in-country partners and local communities to generate high quality data and knowledge products to support plant conservation and the sustainable use of plant resources.

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Dr Bhaskar Adhikari, Flora of Nepal Researcher

I have been working on the Flora of Nepal for more than 10 years. My expertise is in plant taxonomy and systematics. I am interested in using our scientific knowledge of plants to work with local communities to improve livelihoods, conserve biodiversity, and sustainably utilise natural resources.

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Dr Alan Forrest, CMEP Researcher

My work is driven by a desire to contribute to plant species and ecosystem conservation using a variety of tools and methods. I manage a diverse portfolio of programs focusing on research into the conservation and sustainable use of plants in Soqotra, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. A certified IUCN Red List assessor and trainer, focusing on Red Listing plants in Arabia and SW Asia and integrating conservation assessments into protected areas and management planning

 

Dr Roger Hyam, Biodiversity Data Systems Developer

I have a background in botany - gaining an MSc and PhD in taxonomy in the late 1990s. After spending a period working as a commercial software engineer at the turn of the century I combined my taxonomy and information technology skills to started working in the field of biodiversity informatics. My work ranges from developing mobile phone apps to collaborating on information exchange standards to data driven research based on remote sensing data.

When I set out as biologist in the 1980s my motivation was to help conserve the biodiversity of the world by increasing our understanding of it. Over the last thirty years there has been little sign of any slow down in biodiversity loss. It is clear that this loss is caused by human behaviour and so my research interests have moved more towards quantifying our relationship with the natural world. I am using data driven research to study how our need for a connection with nature (biophilia) relates to our health and ultimately our pro-enviromental behaviours.

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Dr Sabina Knees, CMEP, Research Associate

Former Editor of the Flora of the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra I am a taxonomist with research interests in horticulture, plant taxonomy and plant conservation. I am a member of the Horticultural Taxonomy Group (Hortax), the IUCN SSC Arabian Plant Specialist Group and the Executive Committee of the Friends of Socotra.

Dr Barbara Mackinder, CMEP, Flora of Arabia Researcher

My research interest is the classification and identification of Legumes. I am working on an account of the family for the Flora of the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra.

Tony Miller, CMEP, Research Associate

I was employed as a SW Asian botanist at The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh from 1974 to 2017. My research focussed on floristic, taxonomic and conservation studies in SW Asia. Field work activities included: assessing the status of vegetation and threatened species, surveying biodiversity hotspots; ethnographic studies and biodiversity impact and richness assessments for landscape potential and for restoration. During these surveys I have discovered and scientifically described many species new to science. I have written numerous scientific papers, several books and contributed to many workshops and conferences

Dr Sophie Neale, Head of CMEP

I am a botanist with over 15 years of experience in the Middle East. My work currently focuses on biodiversity assessment and conservation planning as well as on regional capacity development. I am also responsible for our advisory and consultancy work.

Dr Henry Noltie, Research Associate, Historical Researcher

Henry Noltie is interested in the history of collections and the history of botany in India. His work has concentrated on the RBGE collections, especially the botanical drawings made by Indian artists for Scottish East India Company surgeons.

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Dr Colin Pendry, Editor of Flora of Nepal

My expertise is in plant taxonomy and systematics, with a background in plant ecology. Since 2004 my primary focus has been the Flora of Nepal, for which I write accounts, as well as coordinating and editing the contributions of other authors. Previously I have worked in Latin America, South East Asia and the Caribbean, collecting plants and carrying out floristic and monographic studies.

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Tropical Diversity

Dr Mark Newman, Head of Section, Zingiberaceae Researcher

I'm a taxonomist using mainly the study of morphology within a framework of molecular systematics to describe plants in the Zingiberaceae, a family of over 50 genera and over 1,200 species including cardamom, ginger and turmeric. This work contributes to an inventory of the world's species which is far from complete. New species are being discovered in the Zingiberaceae every year and increasing numbers are threatened with extinction owing to habitat disturbance.

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Hannah Atkins, Gesneriaceae Researcher

Hannah Atkins is a researcher in the Tropical Diversity section interested in the taxonomy, evolution and biogeography of the SE Asian herbaceous flora.  She is currently working on Cyrtandra, the largest genus in the Gesneriaceae comprising over 800 species of rainforest herbs and shrubs.

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Yun-Yu Chen, Phd Candidate

Yun-Yu Chen is a PhD student from Taiwan interested in plant evolutionary development and bioinformatics.

He is currently working on the PhD project, the genomics studies on the Cape Primrose (Gesneriaceae). The Cape Primrose (genus Streptocarpus, Gesneriaceae)is a popular ornamental plants widely cultivated throughout Europe and Asia. This group of plants show extraordinary developmental patterns, including diversifying floral forms, the one leaf plant (unifoliate), and unequal development of cotyledon (anisocotyly). He is working on genetics and genomics basis for the Streptocarpus genus.

 

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Axel Dalberg Poulsen, Zingiberaceae Researcher

Axel is a Research Associate in the Tropical Diversity Section and his work includes taxonomy, evolution, distribution patterns at all scales, ecology, and ethnobotany, especially of the family Zingiberaceae (gingers) of which he is the leading expert on the genus Etlingera. His research output includes contributions to regional floras based on a molecular phylogenetic framework and facilitates the conservation assessment of all ginger species using standard IUCN procedures.

Home page: http://dalbergpoulsen.com/ (Opens in new window)

Dr Mark Hughes, Begonia Researcher

My research focus is documenting and explaining the species richness in the mega-diverse genus Begonia. My research has two strands, one based on classical herbarium taxonomy and the other focusing on biogeography from regional to continental scales.

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Dr Catherine Kidner, Begonia Researcher

I am interested in the genetics underlying species-level variation in plants which I study through a combination of classical genetics and the application of high throughput sequencing data (genomics, transcriptomics, hybrid capture).  I am particularly interested in developing bioinformatic approaches using hybrid capture to recover genetic data from herbarium specimens.  My group works mainly on Begonia but I also work with a range of other tropical groups including Inga.

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Dr Michael Möller, Gesneriaceae Researcher

Dr Möller is an Evolutionary Botanist interested in unravelling evolutionary processes and the classification of plant species. He applies holistic approaches to taxonomy combining morphological and molecular data, whereby molecular phylogenetic frameworks are the cornerstone underpinning taxonomic decisions and modern classification systems. Dr Möller is also interested in linking phylogenies to infer morphological shifts and investigate the genetics underlying these developmental changes. His work focusses primarily, but not exclusively, on Old World Gesneriaceae.

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Dr Peter Moonlight, South American Biodiversity Researcher

I am a Postdoctoral Scientist in the Tropical Biodiversity Section and specialise in the use of taxonomic data in answering large scale, macro-ecological questions. As a taxonomist, my main specialism is the Andean members of the megadiverse, understory herb genus Begonia (Begoniaceae) and I continues to describe new species and…

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Dr Kanae Nishii, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Research Associate

Kanae Nishii has interests in evolutionary development and systematics in the family Gesneriaceae, in particular the genus Streptocarpus. KN holds research associateships in the Tropical Diversity section at RBGE and the Tokyo Gakugei University in Japan, carrying out research in both institutes.

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Prof Toby Pennington, South American Biodiversity Researcher

My research has aimed to address one of the fundamental questions of tropical biology – how and when did the huge species numbers in the tropics arise? It is grounded in fundamental, descriptive taxonomic, inventory and phylogenetic research, which provides the foundation to address evolutionary and biogeographic questions of relevance to conservation in a changing world.

For more details visit http://toby-pennington.squarespace.com/ (opens in a new window)

Flávia Pezzini, PhD Candidate

Flávia Pezzini is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh/Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh. She is interested in the biogeographical history of the Neotropics, with a special focus on threatened Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest (SDTF). The focus of her PhD project is on one of the most conspicuous and charismatic trees of SDTF, Ceiba Mill. (Malvaceae, Bombacoideae). She is using molecular phylogenetic approaches based on targeted enrichment to generate a multi-locus, highly-supported, time-calibrated tree with multiple accessions to allow a much clear understanding of species boundaries and their diversification trajectories as well as into the biogeographic history of threatened SDTF.

Surabhi Ranavat, PhD Candidate

I am a PhD student based at the University of Edinburgh and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. In 2015, I completed my BS-MS dual degree from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhopal where I worked on the interspecific and intergeneric variation in the floral and pollination traits of Commelinaceae species with Dr Vinita Gowda. My PhD project is aimed at understanding the genetic diversity and reproductive trait evolution in the complex genus Alpinia (Zingiberaceae, the ginger family). My supervisors are Dr Alex Twyford (University of Edinburgh), Dr Mark Newman (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh), and Dr Vinita Gowda (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhopal), and I am funded by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh.

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Dr James Richardson, Tropical Biodiversity Researcher

 

 

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Dr Louis Ronse De Craene, Director of the MSc course

Dr Louis Ronse De Craene

Dr. Louis P. Ronse De Craene

 Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh,

20A Inverleith Row, EH3 5LR, UK.

Phone: +44(0)131 248 2804

Fax: +44(0)131 248 2901

E-mail: lronsedecraene@rbge.org.uk

Dr Louis Ronse De Craene (Doctorate Leuven, Belgium 1992) is a botanist, working at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh since 2002 as Director…

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Dr Tiina Sarkinen, South American Biodiversity Researcher

I am a permanent biodiversity researcher in the Tropical Diversity section interested in the evolution, ecology and distribution of tropical biomes, and the taxonomy and systematics of the plant family Solanaceae.

I am currently working on the taxonomy and systematics of the Black nightshade clade of Solanum (Solanum section Solanum…

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Madhavi Sreenath, PhD Candidate

PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh studying biogeography. 

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Pakkapol Thaowetsuwan, PhD Candidate

I am a PhD student originally from Thailand with funding from the Development and Promotion of Science and Technology talents project (DPST) Scholarship, Royal Thai Government. My research concerns the diversity and evolution of flowers. Currently, I am doing a PhD thesis about floral diversity and evolution in Croton and related genera (Crotonoideae, Euphorbiaceae). Croton is the second largest genus in the Euphorbiaceae after Euphorbia. It has great diversity in floral structures especially in indumentum type, stamen number and style branching pattern. The aims of my thesis are to gain an understanding of developmental and genetic basis of the great floral diversity in this genus using morphological, anatomical and genetic methods, namely light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and gene expression study. Floral structures from other genera in the tribe Crotoneae are also studied for a better understanding of floral diversity and evolution in Croton.

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Dr Peter Wilkie, Sapotaceae Researcher

Peter Wilkie is a senior researcher in the Tropical Diversity Section. His main research focus is on the tropical trees of South East Asia, in particular, the family Sapotaceae.

 

Research aims:

  • Produce base-line taxonomic data of the poorly known tree diversity in Malesia
  • Produce and utilize large scale distributional data…
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Hannah Wilson, PhD Candidate

My PhD research aims to identify the key factors driving rapid diversification of tropical plant species on New Guinea by placing the radiation of Begonia on the island (c.250 species) into geographic, genomic, environmental and temporal contexts. 

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Lucia Campos, PhD Candidate

I am a biologist interested in the molecular and genetic basis of plant diversity and evolution. For my PhD, I am using Begonias as a model to study the genomic factors driving plant speciation. Begonia is one of the five largest angiosperms genera, with approximately 2000 species described and more being discovered every year. One of the many interesting features about Begonias is their highly dynamic genomes: they show a wide range of both chromosome number and genome size, as well as very variable content of repetitive and transposable DNA in their genomes.

The aim of my project is elucidating the role of these genome dynamics in the high speciation rates found in Begonia. For this purpose, I use Next-Generation Sequencing data to study the genomic DNA from different Begonia species from different habitats in Africa, Asia and America and that are part of the RBGE living collection. I also study the genome of Begonia’s closest relative, Hillebrandia sandwicensis, a Hawaiian endemic species.

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Thibauld Michel, PhD Candidate

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Sanna Olander, Conservation Assessment Officer

As a Conservation Assessment Officer at RBGE, I have the pleasure of combining my interests in botany and conservation. From January 2018 to March 2019, I am writing and facilitating IUCN Red List assessments or, in other words, assessing species risk of extinction. My focus is on two plant families as I spend two days a week working on Sapotaceae and three days on Zingiberaceae. IUCN Red List assessments are effective tools in guiding conservation efforts and prioritising areas where funds are most needed. As one of the most aknowledged ways of assessing species' conservation status, these assessments have the potential to persuade desision makers to protect taxa and reduce the loss of species diversity.

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Genetics and Conservation

Dr Antje Ahrends, Head of Genetics and Conservation

My research focuses on biodiversity conservation in the face of global environmental change. I am using field data combined with large-scale environmental datasets, GIS, and modelling approaches to study the distribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to assess the impact of global change.

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Dr Sally Eaton, Scottish Plant Officer

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Dr Aline Finger, Molecular Ecologist

My research focus is conservation and ecological genetics of threatened and important plant species. I’m using a combination of genetic and ecological methods to help their protection and to inform conservation and management decisions. My aim is to ensure that our conservation efforts lead to species’ persistence as self-sustaining, viable populations in the wild.

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Martin Gardner, ICCP coordinator

For more than 25 years I have worked at RBG Edinburgh on many aspects of conifer conservation and currently I co-chair the IUCN Conifer Specialist Group. I also co-ordinate the International Conifer Conservation Programme.

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Dr Robert Mill, Research Associate

I retired from my position as Gymnosperm Systematist at RBGE in 2018 but am now a RBGE Research Associate. I am currently revising genera of Podocarpaceae, particularly Podocarpus and Prumnopitys.

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Dr Markus Ruhsam, Molecular Ecologist

I am a botanist with over 30 years of experience in plant identification who also uses genetic tools to study and understand plant diversity. The combination of morphological and molecular techniques is a powerful approach to investigate evolutionary processes which, for instance, has led to the discovery of a new species of monkey puzzle trees (Araucaria) in New Caledonia by RBGE and collaborators.  A particular interest of mine are the processes which shape and change plant populations over time (phylogeography).

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Nadia Russle, PhD candidate

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Philip Thomas, ICCP Scientific Officer

My research interests focus on conifers of mainland Southeast Asia and New Caledonia as well as the impacts of climate change. I am also the Coordinator for the IUCN Conifer Redlist Authority.

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Dr Linda Neaves, Geneticist

My research uses genomic tools to address a range of species management and conservation based problems for plants and animals, including species identification and discrimination, population structure and history as well as phylogenetics. I am also interested in the development of methods to obtain information from degraded samples, such as environmental DNA, herbarium and museum samples and detection of trace DNA to provide new insights into species ecology and interactions. Current projects include understanding the diet of Giant Panda and the bamboos they rely on.

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Cryptogamic Plants and Fungi

Dr Christopher Ellis, Head of Cryptogamic Plants and Fungi Section

I am an ecologist and lichenologist with a particular interest in woodland epiphytes. I use my research to understand how habitat management can offset negative impacts of global change.

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Dr Neil Bell, Bryologist

I am a bryologist specialising in phylogenetics, taxonomy and architectural evolution. Much of my research is focussed on quantifying, understanding and promoting the diversity of Scotland's globally important bryophyte flora.

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Dr David Chamberlain, Research Associate Bryology

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Dr Brian Coppins, Research Associate Lichenology

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Dr David Genney, Research Associate Cryptogam Conservation

I work within a team of species specialists as a Policy and Advice Officer for Scottish Natural Heritage. I am national advisor on all Scottish bryophytes and fungi/lichens. To deliver this remit, I draw on research skills developed through my PhD and five years of post-doctoral research on mycorrhizal function and ecology.

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Dr Katy Hayden, Plant Health Officer

I am an evolutionary ecologist and the Quarantine and Plant Health Officer for RBGE. I research rapid evolutionary change in plant-pathogen interactions, such as when pathogens are introduced to new lands and new hosts, and how to use this knowledge to protect plants and livelihoods.

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Dr Stephan Helfer, Research Associate Mycology

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Mr Neville Kilkenny, Research Associate Mycology

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Dr Vladimir Krivtsov, Research Associate Ecosystem Services

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Dr Elizabeth Kungu, Research Associate Bryology

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Dr David Long, Research Associate Bryology

I am a taxonomist with expertise in bryophytes, and in the vascular plant flora of the Sino-Himalayan region.

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Dr Joanne Taylor, Research Associate Mycology

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Dr Juan Carlos Villarreal, Research Associate Bryology

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Professor Christopher Walker, Research Associate Mycology

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Professor Roy Watling, Honorary Associate Mycology

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Dr Rebecca Yahr, Lichenologist

I am a botanist and mycologist, with an evolutionary perspective on diversity in lichens. Because I believe that people and the planet will all benefit from a better understanding of one another, I am also passionate about enthusing people at all levels about lichens.

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Herbarium

Dr David Harris, Herbarium Curator and Deputy Director of Science

My role is to run the herbarium of 3 million specimens held in Edinburgh. I am also Deputy Director of Science. My research is focused on the plants from the forests of central Africa. I teach on the MSc in Plant Biodiversity and Taxonomy and supervise post-graduate students.

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Rob Cubey, Plant Records Officer

I am the Plant Records Officer of the RBGE, handling the data management for both the Living and Herbarium collections.

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Suzanne Cubey, Deputy Herbarium Curator

As a Deputy Herbarium Curator I have specific responsibilities in the day to day running of the Herbarium. I also have a particular interest in the destructive sampling from Herbarium Specimens and the extensive Cultivated Herbarium which links both the Science and the Living Collection departments of the RBGE.

Robyn Drinkwater, Digitisation Officer and Technical Developer

I am part of the team responsible for the digitisation of herbarium specimens and library and archives.

 

 

 

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Kate Eden, Herbarium Technician

I prepare new dried pressed plant specimens for the Herbarium collection, and do remedial conservation (repairs) of older specimens.

Lorna Glancy, Herbarium Technician

I prepare new dried pressed plant specimens ready for inclusion in the Herbarium. Using archival quality materials the plants are glued and stitched onto card to ensure that the maximum amount of taxonomic information is displayed and that the specimen will last into the future. I also help to maintain the pickled plants and fruits in the spirit collection. An immense bonus to my part-time job in the herbarium is that the specimens provide me with all the inspiration I need in my professional practice as a ceramic artist.

Erzsebet Gyongy, Herbarium Assistant

I am a herbarium assistant. I make sure that the new specimens coming into the herbarium have the correct data attached and I oversee the process of laying away by which the specimens are filed in the correct place in the sequence. I am interested in using new technology to speed up these processes.

Dr Elspeth Haston, Deputy Herbarium Curator

My experience is in taxonomic research, curation systems and digitisation. My work has included the development of tools, processes and workflows to aid with curation in herbaria. My current focus is on large-scale digitisation, including looking at integrating digitisation into curatorial and research processes.

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Sally King, Digitisation Officer and Volunteer Co-ordinator

I am part of the team responsible for the digitisation of herbarium specimens and library and archives. I am the herbarium camera officer thus responsible for maintaining camera operability for the herbarium digitisation programme. As Herbarium Volunteer Coordinator I coordinate the in-house departmental programme, as well as providing training and supervision for volunteer curation and digitisation projects. I also management volunteer engagement and support for our online citizen science projects.

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Jennifer McCutcheon, Herbarium Technician

I prepare new dried pressed plant specimens for the Herbarium collection and maintain the Spirit collection.

Dr Heleen Plaisier, Assistant Herbarium Curator

I manage the Cryptogamic Section of the Herbarium. This involves the curation of the Cryptogam collections, processing new accessions, supporting loans and destructive sampling, and providing support for users of the Cryptogam collections.

Sally Rae, Assistant Herbarium Curator

I am one of the assistant herbarium curators. I have a wide range of roles most of which involve the  processing of specimens through the herbarium. One of my special interests is the bryophyte collection.

Lesley Scott, Assistant Herbarium Curator

I am one of the Assistant Herbarium Curators with the responsibility for loans and visitors. In addition to helping taxonomy researchers access our Collection, I'm increasingly working with artists who wish to explore the Herbarium.

Scientific and Technical Services

Dr Michelle Hart, Head of Scientific and Technical Services

As Head of Scientific and Technical Services (STS), Michelle is responsible for the provision and maintenance of the research laboratories and associated services at RBGE. The lab facilities are a core shared-use facility, supporting a diverse range of research activities.

 

Michelle is responsible for developing these facilities to accommodate changes…

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Frieda Christie, Microscopy Technician

Frieda Christie has worked at RBGE for 24 years and is responsible for the care and maintenance of the scanning electron microscope and oversees the use of it and the research grade light microscopes at RBGE. She has worked with people from all over the world who use microscopy to…

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Dr Laura Lowe Forrest, Molecular Laboratory Manager

Laura Forrest (ORCID; Scopus) has been employed at RBGE since 2011, where she provides technical support in the molecular laboratory as part of the Scientific and Technical Services (STS) team. This includes training and practical support for staff and visitors, and for undergraduate, masters and PhD students, lecturing on bryology…

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Ruth Hollands, General Laboratory Manager

Ruth has worked at RBGE for over 30 years, starting her career as an Assistance Scientific Officer in the lab and Cryptogam section of the Herbarium. With the formation of the Scientific and Technical Services (STS) section in 1992, she moved away from the Herbarium to become the General Lab…

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Library, Archives and Publications

Lorna Mitchell, Head of Library, Archives & Publications

Lorna is responsible for the strategic management and day-to-day running of the Library, Archives and Publications at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).

This includes:

  • maintenance and development of the collections, including cataloguing, digitisation and preservation;
  • management of the Publications team, including responsibility for sales and marketing of RBGE publications;
  • public engagement activities to increase awareness of the Library and Archive collections;
  • fundraising and income generation to support Library and Archive projects;
  • records management.

Leonie Paterson, Archivist

Leonie started at RBGE in 2000 as a Library Assistant. Over the years, her interest in the George Forrest collection and RBGE’s history led to her becoming involved in the care and curation of the Archives.  She now has a qualification in Archives Management and is responsible for RBGE’s historic archives which involves their arrangement, listing, cataloguing and environment, but in particular helping people access and use the collections (and a fair amount of talking about George Forrest!)

Graham Hardy, Serials Librarian

Graham Hardy has worked in the RBGE Library since 1998.  He works on the day-to-day management of the Periodicals Collection (both current and historic) and is responsible for the Library's Exchange Programme. Graham also deals with reference enquiries, oversees a number of Library volunteers, handles inter-library loans from staff and students and is part of the team that assists internal and external visitors to the Library.

George Sherriffs, Acquisitions Librarian

George is responsible for sourcing and acquiring new materials (books and non-book materials) for the RBGE Library. He also leads on the cataloguing of the Library collections, including the retrospective cataloguing of the historical collections. George is also responsible for financial management, reader enquiries and emergency first aid.

Deborah Vaile, Library Assistant

Debi Vaile manages Library Circulation (i.e. user registration, loans, etc) and works on the Service Desk assisting with general enquiries. Debi is a member of the RBGE Environmental Management Group representing the Waste Group and is also an Environmental Area Champion for the Library.

Lynsey Wilson, Photographer

Lynsey is the RBGE staff photographer responsible for producing images for use in books, leaflets, scientific papers, catalogues and on the website. She is involved in a diverse array of assignments including macro, landscape, wildlife, studio, location, exhibition, event, scientific, creative and portrait photography. Lynsey also manages a team of volunteer and freelance photographers.

Donna Cole, Production Controller

Caroline Muir, Graphics Designer

Simon Spanton, Publisher / Commissioning Editor

Alice Young, Production Editor