Professional summary

Helen is an Individual Merit Scientist (Ecologist) at UKCEH and Professor in Ecology at the University of Exeter. Helen co-leads a large research group (~ 18 research scientists including hosting of a few visiting fellows) within the Biodiversity Science Area. Within the Biological Records Centre (part of UKCEH), Helen leads programmes to develop zoological monitoring and research working in collaboration with the volunteer wildlife recording community. She is leading global collaborations to deliver high impact research, relevant to the Environmental Challenges recognised by NERC, to understand and predict the effects of biological invasions (and other drivers of global environmental change) on biodiversity and ecosystem function using large-scale and long-term species distribution and abundance datasets. 

Since 2008 Helen has led a Defra-funded project to compile information on invasive non-native species for Britain and is currently leading a Darwin Plus project to compile information on invasive non-native species for all the UK Overseas Territories. Prevention, early detection and rapid response are critical to the management of invasive non-native species and the collaborative approaches Helen has developed for horizon scanning to inform prevention have achieved international recognition and application. Her research on biological invasions has gained her international recognition both through informing policy and advancing science including as co-chair of the IPBES thematic assessment on Invasive Alien Species their Control.

Helen is passionate about science communication, and particularly engaging people with insect science, and she is a pioneer in community or citizen science. She leads the UK Ladybird Survey, a national recording scheme engaging thousands of people, as a volunteer but the vast dataset (>250k records) has been used extensively in her entomological research.

Selected publications