Education and Qualifications

I have a First Class Honors Degree in Biology from the University of Nottingham. I then completed a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at the University of Nottingham under the supervision of Professor Matthew Dickinson. Click below for the abstract and access via EThoS.



Employment History

Plant Health Science Advisor, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2019-present)

This role sits within the evidence and analysis team at Defra, where I provide scientific and technical advice on a wide range of plant health and biosecurity issues.

Biosecurity Coordinator, Royal Horticultural Society (2018-2019)

At the RHS, I worked across the gardens, shows, and retail on aspects of biosecurity related to the plant health policy This included inspection of stock intended for gardens and retail, plant health inspections in conjunction with the APHA at shows, as well as training both staff and public in biosecurity matters. I also did pathology queries for RHS members, dealing with a wide variety of diseases of horticultural plants.

Senior Postdoctoral-Researcher, Teagasc (2017 – 2018)

At Teagasc I worked on the DAFM (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) funding FORestry Management Research Project, FORM. I worked on a work package designed specifically look into risks to Sitka spruce, the predominate forest tree on the island of Ireland. Sitka is native to the Pacific Northwest of North America and has been transplanted to Ireland without many of its native pests. As a consequence, stands on the island of Ireland are relatively healthy.

Pest Risk Analyses (PRA) are technical documents that detail the risk posed by a pest to a country or region, and are necessary under international trade laws to justify the introduction of regulations against plant pests. I designed a PRA scheme for Ireland, and produced a lay guide to PRA for use by stakeholders.

I also worked on a pest list for spruce, and analysed the risk of key pests to the island of Ireland. Click on the image below to learn more about FORM.


Spruce saplings growing in the understory of a forest plantation. Image attribution: Anne Burgess

Pest Risk Analyst, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2014-2017)

In this role, I undertook extensive horizon scanning to identify potential pest threats to UK plant health across horticulture, agriculture, and forestry. I initially analysed pests via the UK Plant Health Risk Register, which I also helped to maintain, as well as producing more detailed PRAs. Links to some of my PRAs can be found in the publications section.

Plant Health Consultant, Food and Environment Research Agency (2013-2014)

In this role I performed a variety of tasks within the plant protection programme. I provided advice to PHSI on interceptions on imports or outbreaks of quarantine pests. I worked within the scientific licensing unit, ensuring that organisations which wish to work with quarantine pests or plants complied with regulations and that there facilities were suitable for containment. I was a core part of the team that developed the UK Plant Health Risk Register and played a leading role in the management of the data for the 650 pests that were initially added to the Risk Register.

Other Experience


I am passionate about science communication and enjoy giving lectures and seminars. I have given a guest lecture at University College Dublin on Pest Risk Analysis, and have presented at stakeholder meetings for both Defra and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on pests risks and PRA. At the University of Nottingham, I was a tutor for the presentation skills for researchers course.


Core team: Castletown parkrun

I was a member of the core team at Castletown parkrun. Internationally, parkrun puts on free, timed 5 km events each Saturday and relies entirely upon local volunteers to set up and run these events. As a member of the core team, I help to ensure events run smoothly each week and will regularly take on the role of run director. I also manage the Castletown parkrun Twitter account.

Science Outreach

I have taken part in several science outreach projects. I took part in a competition to design posters explaining your research to a lay audience, for which I won an award. I wrote an article for Catalyst magazine aimed at GCSE students explaining my Ph. D. research. I also used my field botany skills as a volunteer at a Bioblitz in Nottingham.

Resident Tutor, Bonington Hall

I was a resident tutor at Bonington hall, University of Nottingham from September 2009 to September 2011. Broadly, my role as tutor covered providing both pastoral care for the students living in the halls and making sure the rules of the hall were upheld. I worked closely with the other resident tutors in the team and the warden to ensure they were kept up to date on any issues. The role required discretion when dealing with pastoral care issues, effective communication skills and a sense of humor.


Please click here to view a full list of publications