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.
Dr Dawn Watling is a Developmental Psychologist, and Director of the Social Development Lab at Royal Holloway. She has been working in schools exploring how differences in children’s and adolescents’ social behaviour can be explained through their thoughts and feelings, and connections to others. Recently, she has begun focusing her research on how schools may influence wellbeing in their pupils. It is a result of this work that she has begun working with the Schools’ Biodiversity project team to assess how engagement with nature influences wellbeing in children.
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 graduated from Royal Holloway in 2016, and has returned to work towards an MSc on the schools’ biodiversity project. He is looking at how connectivity and interaction with nature can benefit young people, with a particular focus on how it affects their attainment in science.
Emma Randall graduated from Royal Holloway in 2017 with a degree in Zoology, and is currently a research assistant intern on this project. She is passionate about conservation, and enjoys working with children to increase their awareness and appreciation of the environment.
Dr Hannah Harvey is a research associate at Royal Holloway. She is interested in memory and learning, widening participation and engagement in science, and the use of technology.