Plants, People, Planet Symposium
How the global threat of pests and diseases impacts plants, people and the planet
Nicola Spence is Defra’s Chief Plant Health Officer and advises ministers, industry and others about the risks posed by plant pests and diseases. Nicola is an experienced research plant pathologist and worked on virus diseases of horticultural crops in the UK and internationally for over 20 years. She is an expert in plant health and international plant trade and was previously the Head of Plant Health and then Chief Scientist at the Food and Environment Research Agency near York. She is a President Elect of the British Society for Plant Pathology, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, Honorary Professor at the University of Birmingham, Visiting Professor at Harper Adams University, a member of Court at the University of York and a Trustee of The Yorkshire Arboretum. She has a BSc in Botany from the University of Durham, an MSc in Microbiology from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Plant Virology from the University of Birmingham. The subject of her PhD was Bean Common Mosaic Virus in Phaseolus beans in Africa.
William (Ned) Friedman
Mutants in our midst: Can botanical gardens do more to promote societal understanding of evolution?
Ned Friedman is the Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and the eighth Director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in its nearly 150-year history. Friedman’s studies have fundamentally altered century-old views of the earliest phases of the evolution of flowering plants, Darwin’s so-called “abominable mystery.” He is also deeply interested in the history of early (pre-Darwinian) evolutionary thought, particularly the largely forgotten contributions of horticulturists and botanists. As Director of the Arnold Arboretum, Friedman has worked to expand the Arboretum’s societal impact through diverse initiatives in public programming, enhanced communication between scientists and the public, the embedding of scientific scholarship within the living collections, and a reinvigoration of the long-standing relationship between the Arboretum and the biodiversity of Asia. In early 2016, after four years of extensive planning, a ten-year plant exploration initiative was launched to shape and augment the living collections of the Arnold Arboretum for the next century – for the study of everything from genomics to climate change, ex situ conservation, and horticultural display of the world’s temperate woody plant biodiversity – all in a Frederick Law Olmsted designed landscape.