...Chris studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University, concentrating on Geology and Palaeontology.He
arrived in Cardiff
with no knowledge of botany, but threw himself into the study of Middle Devonian plants from Venezuela, supervised by Dianne Edwards.He
was lucky enough to be given a plant assemblage to study which was incredibly diverse and well preserved, and the first decent collection of plant fossils of Devonian age from the whole of South America.He
had an exciting f ield season in Venezuela, camping in the forest on the slopes of the northernmost Andes on the Venezuela/Colombia border.In his
PhD work he
made a particular study of the clubmosses which are particularly abundant at the Venezuelan localities.Since then Chris has concentrated his research on the diversification of non-clubmoss plants in the Middle Devonian ( about 380 million years ago).
During this time all the major plant groups became established with the exception of flowering plants.He
is particularly interested in the origins of the horsetail and ferns.His
approach to this study is that he
believes a phylogenetic tree for such plants can only be established when the Middle Devonian plants concerned have been understood in terms of both their morphology and anatomy, and concepts of the fossils as living and growing plants have been developed.Such a study will also contribute to the understanding of the environmental changes, particularly with respect to the atmosphere and soils, which occurred with the advent of abundant large vascular plants.
A demanding fieldwork schedule means that Chris
has worked in many exciting places, including north east Greenland, Siberia, Colombia and Argentina, as well as multiple visits to Yunnan, China, Venezuela and New York State.
Current projects include describing a new Middle Devonian plant from Greenland that bears seed megaspores (NERC funded), and a Royal Society/NSFC Joint Project on Silurian and Devonian plants and spores from Yunnan and Xinjiang, China, in collaboration with Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology and Southampton
and Sheffield Universities
.The latter project not only includes describing perhaps the only endemic Middle Devonian flora (Yunnan), but studying in situ and dispersed spores as well.Chris
is also working with Bill Stein (Binghamton, NY) on newly discovered giant cladoxylopsid trees from New York State.
...When not working on fossils or teaching, Chris can be found playing the famous Hill organ in St. Augustine's church, Penarth where he is assistant organist.He is a council member of the British Institute of Organ Studies, and is presently researching the history of French monastic organs on the Isle of Wight and Jersey.