Professor Alan Gange has had a life-long interest in natural history, particularly insects, plants and fungi. He can identify most British butterflies and moths, many plants and some fungi. He has been an academic at Royal Holloway since 1992 and was Admissions Tutor from 2000-2011 and Head of the School of Biological Sciences from 2011-2015. In these roles, he has visited many schools giving talks on how to apply to university. It was during these visits that he realised how important school grounds could be as a reservoir of biodiversity and conservation potential. In most cases this was underused and so the Biodiversity Boost project was born. Its aim is to realise that potential, using ‘citizen science’, combining outdoor learning with biodiversity enhancement.
As part of her research Dr Deborah Harvey has been working with schools for the last 16 years to monitor the stag beetle and encourage them to set up habitats. She has had four Royal Society Schools grants and a NERC Valuing Nature placement working with teachers to encourage a love of biology in children, and has developed education materials as part of these projects. She also helped coordinate the RHUL Biodiversity STEM Box Challenge.
Louise Montgomery is a PhD student working on the effects of engaging with nature in school grounds on children’s wellbeing. She is interested in how contemporary environmental issues can impact human health and wellbeing, as well as how the loss of care and desire to protect the natural environment can be reinstated into current childhoods through outdoor education.
Felix Hall is a MSc student working on the effects of engaging with nature on science attainment.
Dr Hannah Harvey is a research associate at Royal Holloway. She is interested in widening participation and engagement in science, and the use of technology to achieve this, as well as the impact of engagement with nature on wellbeing.