School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences

Other Interests

Sunset in Brazil

I am mildly obsessed with the following things: bats, monkeys, forests, deserts and travel to new hot places. Recently i have become obsessed with kite surfing. I am still at the rather embarrassing stage of wobbling around on the board for a bit before ploughing head first into the is taking some time for my inner surf dude to emerge.

Due to the quite dynamic nature of my obsessions/interests i have taken to updating them on my excitingly named 'latest developments' page. Since you are already here i will provide a brief summary of my current interests, with the idea that if you think they are sufficiently interesting you can navigate to the afore-mentioned page. To be honest, the fact that you are here at all indicates that you probably have nothing better to do so i will stop being so self-effacing. Anyway, my current interests are: 1) Obscure methodologies associated with my PhD, 2) Taking arty photos with my new fancy camera, 3) Generally appreciating the fantastic doodlings of Edward Monkton (go to, 4) Eating lots of biscuits made by our domestic-goddess-in-training in the upstairs office. 5) Eagerly anticipating a string of promising free food and drinks events which are scheduled to occur over the next two weeks, starting tommorrow when i shall be attending not one but two of these events. Hurrah for free stuff.

kitesurf jungle

I have been to quite a few novel places though not in a particularly adventurous capacity (i grew up in malawi and botswana), but still Brazil defies description. For anyone thinking of going to, but bear in mind this...Brazilians are seriously into the following things: meat, cheese and lager. Preferably all together...for breakfast. Getting to the field site alone is an incredible experience. Days of travel on almost every possible mode of transport conceivable. Then when you arrive in a remote outpost somewhere in the largest patch of green on the planet...and there's beds and showers. The forest is beautiful, vast beyond reasonable description, an endless onslaught of crazy creatures. This is the sharp end of 'biodiversity': everything is improbably big, or hairy or leaves you with an unsightly rash.

Me fishing, catching only sunburn

Frankly, it is difficult to understand why i get so many blank looks when i talk about bats. They are endlessly fascinating. They make up a huge proportion of mammal species. They occupy a vast number of ecological niches and play key roles in many ecosystems as pollinators, seed dispersers and regulators of insect populations. We have very limited knowledge of them- recently we discovered that the most common species of bat in Britain (the pipistrelle bat) was actually two species! And many species have a fantastically complex and impressive method of navigation and hunting- echolocation. Check out the following links to find out more.
Bats Worldwide
Bats in the U.K

Me and my brother looking moderately rugged

More people seem to like monkeys. I spent six months wading through sweaty jungle following monkeys, so i feel like i have some sort of vested interest in their survival. Otherwise all that time being bitten by hordes of ticks/mosquitoes/giant flies and slapped by copious quantities of vegetation has been wasted. I was assisting a PhD student who was looking at the diet and social dynamics of the Southern Muriqui.

The Southern Muriqui is a fantastic animal with bizarre social/sexual habits, and it is on the verge of extinction. The Muriqui occurs only in the Atlantic rainforest- a unique habitat quite distinct from the amazonian forest which is now reduced to less than 5% of its original extent. Check out the following links to find out more about the muriqui and forest.
Facts and stats
Muriqui home page

my monkey Sunset in lake Kariba, Zimbabwe