Having grown up in the Welsh countryside surrounded by wildlife, I have always been intrigued by the natural world.
In July 2009, I went on a Field Studies Council course with TV naturalist Nick Baker, who first introduced me to the magic of moth trapping.
Shortly after this, I got my own light trap and began identifying moths in my garden.
As time progressed, my knowledge of the common macro and micro moths developed and I began identifying more obscure micro moths through genitalia determination and searching for early stages. I have since found my garden is home to over 800 moth species and, since learning to drive, I have been able to explore mid-Wales most under-recorded areas; producing tens of thousands of records and discovering over 120 new species for the county in the process.
In 2013, I took over the position of County Butterfly Recorder for Montgomeryshire and set about increasing the number of records and coverage across the county, producing a digital atlas to highlight the most under-recorded areas. This has contributed to a three-fold increase in annual records since taking on the role.
Meanwhile, I completed my GCSEs and A-Levels, and later went on to read Biological Sciences at Brasenose College, Oxford. I graduated with first-class honours in July 2017 (one of my proudest achievements, having come from an uninspiring state school). I continued my studies at Oxford with an interdisciplinary MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management.
In October 2018, I began a NERC-funded PhD at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) Wallingford. I am investigating the impacts of street lighting on moths. The project – which also involves Newcastle University and Butterfly Conservation - will entail fieldwork and DNA metabarcoding to construct ecological networks, as well as novel analysis of existing long-term datasets.
I now live in Oxfordshire, where I deliver training and public engagement events. I am currently undertaking a baseline survey of the moths of Wytham Woods, the University of Oxford's famous ancient woodland, where I am also collecting moth specimens for the Darwin Tree of Life project, which ultimately aims to sequence the entire genomes of all the species found in the UK.