My main research interests lie in plant ecology and in using functional traits to understand how plants survive disturbances such as drought, fire, frost and cyclones. This means that I am very good at killing plants or watching them die, but certainly NOT the person to be looking after your garden while you are away on holidays.
Lately, my main research focus has been comparing the flammability of different native and exotic plants. We do this by burning shoots on a specially-built device, that we affectionately call our plant BBQ. In addition to having lots of fun burning stuff, we are attempting to determine whether some plants have evolved to be more flammable, and also providing advice to farmers and land managers as to which plants might promote or reduce fire spread across the landscape.
I'm also very keen on science communication and believe that scientists should be actively engaged in explaining our work to wider audiences. As part of this I am heavily involved in a citizen science project; the New Zealand EcoBlitz (www.ecoblitz.nz), which entails school students working with experts to survey biodiversity.