5x15 x Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Health and Nature

FLOK 5x15 Health Nature 6
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Cultivating enlightening conversations on botanical science and conservation

Anne Biklé
Soil health

Anne Biklé is a science writer and public speaker drawing on her background in biology and environmental planning to explore humanity’s tangled relationship with nature through the lens of agriculture, soil, and food. Her work has appeared in digital and print magazines, newspapers, and radio and her gardening practices have been featured in independent and documentary films. Together, David and Anne are the authors of several award-winning popular science books, including The Hidden Half of Nature, which is the middle volume of their Dirt trilogy. Their latest, What Your Food Ate: How to Heal the Land and Reclaim our Health (2022) explores connections between soil health and the health of crops, animals, and people.

David R. Montgomery
Soil health

David R. Montgomery is a geomorphologist who looks at the process shaping Earth’s surface and how they affect ecological systems—and human societies. He has studied everything from the ways that landslides and glaciers influence the height of mountain ranges, to the way that soils have shaped human civilizations both now and in the past. He has worked in mountain ranges throughout the world, from the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest, to the Andes in South America and Tibet and the Himalaya in Central Asia. He is a Professor at the University of Washington, an elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has received many awards throughout his career, including a MacArthur Fellowship and the Vega Medal.

Kathy Willis
Nature and wellbeing

Kathy Willis CBE is a Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford, the Principal of St Edmund Hall, and a Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords. She has previously served as Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens and as a member of the UK Government’s Natural Capital Committee. Her research focuses on understanding how plant biodiversity responds to climate change and other environmental drivers, as well as studying the ecosystem services that we obtain from plant biodiversity. She is internationally recognized for her work on these topics, and has led a number of global initiatives on plant and fungal biodiversity change. Kathy is also passionate about communicating science to the public. Her broadcasting work has included writing and presenting the 25-part BBC Radio 4 series From Roots to Riches, and alongside academic papers she has published three books for a more general audience: The Evolution of Plants (publisher Oxford University Press); Roots to Riches (publisher John Murray), based on the BBC series of the same name; and Botanicum (publisher Big Picture Press) which is part of a successful series of books for children. She was awarded the Michael Faraday Medal for public communication of science in 2015 by the Royal Society.

Lorraine Lecourtois
Nature Unlocked

Lorraine Lecourtois is the Interim Director of Wakehurst. She joined the Wakehurst Leadership Team as Head of Public Programmes in 2017 charged with the development and delivery of innovative experiences designed to connect people with the natural world. Her career spans theatre production and stage management for companies such as Shakespeare’s Globe and Bolton Octagon, alongside management of large-scale landscape projects. In 2021, Lorraine was appointed as Wakehurst’s Nature Unlocked Research Lead for Nature Connectedness, undertaking extensive research into the impact of biodiversity on behavioural changes, in partnership with Royal Holloway, University of London. She is committed to establishing Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew as the world leader for education and engagement in nature through designing and executing inspirational experiences and exhibitions to drive public engagement.

Marchelle Farrell

Marchelle Farrell is a therapist, writer and amateur gardener. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, she has spent the last twenty years attempting to become hardy in the UK. She has trained and worked as a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist. When not neglecting it for the care of her young children, or her work in the community, Marchelle spends much of her time getting to know her country garden in Somerset and writing about the things the garden teaches her about herself. Her debut Uprooting won the Nan Shepherd Prize for nature writing.

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