Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation and Sorby Professor of Natural Sciences, David is an internationally renowned expert on the co-evolution of plants and the environment over the past half a billion years. A botanist by training, he pioneered a cross-disciplinary research approach that exploits experimental and theoretical techniques from the life sciences and physical sciences to offer insight into the influence of plants on the Earth’s climate.

By combining evidence from fossilised plants, experiments on living plants and computer modelling, David continues to enhance our understanding of plant evolution and its influence on the climate, atmospheric chemistry and geochemical cycles of the past. His work is gaining increasing relevance to understanding current and future global climate change.

David also has a strong interest in increasing public awareness of the role of plants in shaping the Earth’s climate and is the author of the popular science books: The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth’s History (2007) and Making Eden: How Plants Transformed a Barren Planet. (2019). Additionally, he was a scientific consultant for a major BBC Two television series, How to Grow a Planet (2012), which attracted an average audience of 1.7 million viewers.