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. I have also conducted plant surveys of rare ecosystems, such as dry rainforest.
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 fire managers, farmers, land managers and iwi (traditional owners) 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 involved in Children's University, which helps provide school students with a range of learning experiences at universities and beyond.