I have a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a PhD in Plant Science (pasture ecology) from Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. I worked in dairy research in New Zealand prior to taking up a fixed term research position with Aberystwyth University in 2001 working on a Defra funded organic dairy farming project. After spending a year in Aberystwyth I decided to stay on at the University and develop my academic career in both research and teaching. My early research and teaching focussed predominantly on organic livestock farming and I participated in a large number of European funded projects on organic farming policy and practice between 2002 and 2007 (see details in research section below). In the last 10 years my research interests have broadened to include other types of sustainable farming systems including low input and mixed farming systems. My research now focusses on the socio-economic aspects of sustainable farming, particularly the issues surrounding farmer decision making. My undergraduate teaching includes livestock production systems for both first and second year students.
I have recently taken part in Aurora - a women-only leadership development initiative. It is a unique partnership initiative bringing together leadership experts and higher education institutions to take positive action to address the under-representation of women in leadership positions in the sector.
My current research projects include:
BeefQ - Beef Eating Quality (European Agricultural Research Fund for Rural Development - 2018-2021). I coordinate this industry focussed, pre-competitive project, the aim of which is to develop and test a system for predicting the eating quality of beef. Full details of the project can be found on www.beefq.wales
MIXED - MIXED is a project funded by the EU Horizon2020 programme (2020-2024). MIXED will explore the benefits of mixed farming and agroforestry systems (MiFAS) to climate, environment and society in general and support the further development of such systems. I am leading WP1 Co-creation of Knowledge and Innovations which is works with farmer networks, network leaders and academics to identify and investigate a variety of bottlenecks related to MiFAS on-farm, in landscapes and value chains - and potential solutions that can contribute to sufficient and stable income, ecosystem services and climate mitigation. Full details on the project can be found on https://projects.au.dk/mixed/
Recently complete projects include:
SURE-Farm - Sustainable and Resilient European Farming Systems (EU Horizon 2020 funding - 2017-2021). My role in the project, along with colleagues in the School of Business and Management, involves conducting narrative interviews with arable farmers from the East of England. Narrative analysis enables researchers to gain an in depth understanding of the rationale surrounding farmer decision making when faced with change, uncertainty and risk and how farmers manage critical decision points in their farming businesses. This understanding is crucial for developing the tools and policy measures needed to support the UK agriculture sector going forward. More information on broader project activities can be found at: http://surefarmproject.eu/
Sustainable Intensification Platform (SIP) - A Defra funded project completed in 2017. IBERS lead the task which developed a proof of concept for a framework for developing guidance or decision support systems for integrated farm management to achieve the principles of sustainable intensification at the farm level. For more information about the wide project visit http://siplatform.org.uk/.
Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairying (SOLID) (FP7 Grant Agreement No. 266367, 2011-2016) - This project was coordinated by Aberystwyth University and I was the project manager and lead researcher on the socio-economic work package which focussed on the acceptability of innovations in organic and low input dairy systems. To access the findings of the project please visit http://www.solidairy.eu/ and http://farmadvice.solidairy.eu/
Crops and Animals together – CANTOGETHER (FP7 Grant Agreement No. 289328, 2012-2016) - I was the socio-economic work package leader for this European project which included work on barriers and enablers to taking up mixed farming practices and sustainability assessments of mixed farming systems across Europe. For more information visit CANTogether Project
I am the Module Coordinator and Lecturer on four modules including Introduction to Livestock Production Systems at the first year Degree (BR11410) and Foundation Degree level (RD10810) and Livestock Production Systems at the second year Degree (BR20420) and Foundation Degree level (RD23420).
As well as my Undergraduate teaching, I also supervise internal and distance learning MRes students with current topics being supervised including:
- Brazilian soybean growers perceptions of sustainable farming - their motivations and barriers to the use of biological pest control solutions and engage in IPM programs.
- Policy support for sustainable farming: Case studies of sheep farming in Wales.
- Investigation into farmer’s barriers and motivations to engage with agri-environment schemes, and preferences between different styles of payment for ecosystem service schemes (PESS).
I am the coordinator and IBERS Principle Investigator on the BeefQ - Beef Eating Quality Project (www.beefq.wales) and IBERS Principle Investigator on the H2020 MIXED project (https://projects.au.dk/mixed/). I am the Agri Teaching Team Group Lead and I coordinate four undergraduate modules (see Teaching below) I am the IBERS representative on the Aberystwyth University Peer Review Working Group and am currently leading a review of marking criteria in IBERS as part of my Teaching Group Lead role. In September 2018 I took up a four year post as External Examiner for the MSc Organic Farming taught by SRUC and awarded by the University of Glasgow.