Bangor University

Prof James McDonald

Principal investigator and Prof. of Microbial Ecology.

James is Professor of Microbial Ecology at Bangor University and leads the Future Oak project. His research team have been studying the role of microorganisms in oak health and disease for over 10 years. In collaboration with Forest Research, and other members of the UK oak decline research team, the group have pioneered the application of novel and complementary approaches for microbiome analysis of complex host-microbiota interactions in oak, recently confirming through microbiome and infectivity studies that several different bacteria are causal agents of tissue necrosis in trees with Acute Oak Decline.

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Dr Norman Dandy

Project co-investigator & Senior Research Fellow in Sustainable Land Use

I’m an environmental sociologist and geographer interested in political, ethical, and cultural relationships with land and other forest species that influence management practices. Within FUTURE OAK I am leading social research focused on investigating oak manager’s understandings of oak health and the role of tree microbiomes.

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Dr Seumas Bates

Research Officer in Environmental Social Science

As an anthropologist my primary focus within Future Oak is to engage with forest managers to explore their understandings of A.O.D., the microbiome, and their current woodland health and management practices. I shall be directly involved in the qualitative interviews, quantitative survey, and shared-dialogue workshop elements of the social science research program. Prior to moving to Bangor I worked at Maynooth University as a post-doctoral researcher attached to the water-treatment focussed WaterSPOUTT project, and before this I completed my PhD at the University of Glasgow focussing on cultural recovery in the aftermath of large-scale disaster and catastrophe.

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Dr Jim Downie

Postdoctoral Research Officer in Microbial Ecology

Jim is a postdoctoral researcher with the Bangor team, working on the microbiome of oak trees. Jim will be conducting the microbiome-wide survey, as well as the screening for disease-suppressive microbes. His background is in the ecology and evolution of ectomycorrhizal fungi, and prior to joining Future Oak, Jim completed his PhD at the University of Edinburgh on the mycorrhizal fungi of Scots pine.

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Alejandra Ordonez

Research Project Support Officer – Technician

I am a biologist and have a master’s degree in molecular biology and biotechnology. I will support the research conducted by the Bangor University team by partaking in field work, molecular analysis, and project management.

Forest Research

Dr Sandra Denman

Project co-investigator & Senior Research Scientist

Forest Research, Alice Holt

Sandra is a forest and plant pathologist with over 30 years’ experience. She uses a holistic, multidisciplinary research approach to investigate complex decline syndromes of oak. For the past decade she has led several consortia working on the complex disease syndrome: Acute Oak Decline. Her specific interest in the Future Oak centres on microbial interactions with implications for predisposition effects on host susceptibility.

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Dr Anaparassy Kajamuhan

Research Assistant

Bangor University, based at Forest Research, Alice Holt

Anaparassy is a plant pathologist with technical expertise in pathogenicity testing, microbial culture and DNA based fungal identification (Phylogeny). She will be supporting Sandra Denman in this project.


Aberystwyth University

Prof. John Draper

Project co-investigator & Chair of High Resolution Metabolomics Laboratory

John leads the High Resolution Metabolomics Laboratory at Aberystwyth University. His research interests include the metabolomics of food and nutrition, as well as plant pathology. As part of Future Oak, John will be working on the metabolomics element of the project.

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Dr. Manfred Beckman

Project co-investigator & Lecturer in the High Resolution Metabolomics Laboratory

Manfred is a research lecturer and Metabolomics Champion in the High Resolution Metabolomics Laboratory at Aberystwyth University. As part of Future Oak, Manfred will be working on the metabolomics element of the project.

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Dr Jasen Finch

Post-Doctoral Research Assistant

Jasen Finch is a postdoctoral research plant scientist at Aberystwyth University. His interests include understanding the chemical changes occurring in plants during disease and disease resistance. He will be undertaking the metabolomics and machine learning aspects of the project.

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Rothamstead Research

Dr Nathan Brown

Forest Epidemiologist

Rothamstead Research / Woodland Heritage

Nathan Brown is an epidemiologist and modeller at Woodland Heritage and Rothamsted Research. He has monitored Acute Oak Decline affected woodland since 2009 and helps to coordinate Forest Research’s “Forest Condition Survey” for Oak woodland. He is supporting Future Oak by advising on sample sites and tree selection.

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Sylva Foundation

Dr Gabriel Hemery FICFor

Social science

Gabriel is Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation. His role in this project is to support the social science team in research exploring views and experiences among landowners to oak tree health, using the platform of the British Woodlands Survey.

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