Our authors introduce themselves…


Carol Ellison

Carol E

Dr. Carol Ellison

Principal Investigator, Invasive Species Management

I joined CABI over 20 years ago, following the completion of an MSc in Pest Management at Imperial College in 1987; where I specialised in plant pathology.  The main focus of my research at CABI has been using plant pathogens as biological control agents for invasive alien weeds; and I obtained my PhD in 1993 in this subject. This remains my passion, and I current manage a project looking at a rust fungus to control lantana weed (Lantana camara) in Australasia and I am lead pathologist of the Himalayan balsam biocontrol project. I am also keenly awaiting the outcome of the release of a rust fungus, I worked on for many years, for the control of South American climber (Mikania micrantha) in Asia.

I currently coordinate the invasive species team of scientists at CABI in the UK, where we are working on the management of a wide variety of invasive weeds and pests problems both in temperate and tropical countries.  My work has mean I now also have a broad understanding of the quarantine issues involved in the invasive species and biological control fields.  In 2008, I broadened my area of expertise, and now manage the CABI Biofuels Information Exchange Website.  Why me?  Well, many biofuel plants have the potential to become invasive (particularly those used for 2nd generation biofuels).  In addition, pests and diseases can cause significant losses to biofuels crops.  Here, I am using my pathology expertise to help manage diseases of Jatropha (Jatropha curcas), rather than my usual approach of encouraging fungi to damage plants!



Corin Pratt

Project Scientist – Invasive Species Management

I joined CABI late in 2009 after completing an MSc in Integrated Pest Management at Imperial College, where I had previously completed a BSc in Zoology. Initially my work was split between research into the economic cost of invasive species to Great Britain and maintenance of the CABI Biofuels Information Exchange website along with research into biofuels, their pests and the potential of biofuel crops to become invasive.

I continue to maintain the biofuels site, but now work mainly on two biocontrol projects. The first is a project that I manage, mass rearing the weevil Stenopelmus rufinasus to supply to customers for biocontrol of the invasive water weed, Azolla filiculoides. The second is a project looking at the potential for biological control of the UK invasive riparian weed Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera). I recently took part in a survey in the Indian Himalayas (the native range of Himalayan balsam), successfully locating and collecting pathogens and arthropods of biocontrol interest despite monsoon conditions! I have recently also become involved with a research project into the biocontrol of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), carrying out pathogen host range studies.

I have a passion for biological control of both plants and arthropods, using arthropod and pathogen biocontrol agents and have training and experience working with these targets and their agents in various combinations.

Dick Shaw

Dick Shaw

Dr. Dick Shaw

Principal Investigator, Invasive Species Management

I have been working on classical biological control of invasive species for almost 15 years at CABI during which time I completed an MSc and PhD in the subject.  I began working with our team studying primarily tropical weeds and insects before moving onto those temperate weeds that have their origins in Europe but have become problematic in countries like Australia and New Zealand such as gorse, broom and heather.  I now have a focus on invasive weeds in Europe and currently run the Japanese knotweed biocontrol programme for which a sap-sucking psyllid is under consideration to be the first release against a weed in Europe.

I am now responsible for increasing the delivery of our services more widely into Europe where aquatic and riparian weeds are causing considerable headaches for all Member States and their ambitions to meet Water Framework Directive requirements.  I am lucky to work in such a fascinating field which has allowed me to work in collaboration all over the world and attempt to introduce the concept to a very new audience in Europe.  Though scientific discovery has always been my main drive I am becoming equally fascinated with the social and political framework surrounding our work.


Djamila Djeddour


Djamila Djeddour

Principal Investigator – Invasive Species Management

I joined CABI’s invasives team in 1997 following an Msc. in Pest Management at Imperial College. I’ve since had the opportunity to work on a number of classical biocontrol projects targeting a range of tropical and temperate weed species as well as invasive insects and diseases. Having worked as plant pathologist on two of the UK’s most pernicious non natives, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam, I am now managing a project on invasive wild gingers for New Zealand and Hawaiian sponsors. These plants originate in the Eastern Himalayas and through repeated surveys to the native range in India, we hope to identify the most promising insects and/or pathogenic agents for further research into the potential of biological control as a sustainable management option.

Hgar survey

Julien Lamontagne-Godwin

Project Scientist

I joined CABI in mid-2008 as a project scientist / scientific support. The nature of project scientist does allow me to spend my time in varied projects, and helping the invasives team is one of them. For the past two years, I have been tending the Azolla control programme, designed to breed Azolla weevils and shipping them out to Azolla infested sites in the UK. I have also begun looking into the biocontrol of Crassula helmsii, following a good start up host range survey.

My other work is either in the Global Plant Clinic (GPC), helping to tend to the UK GPC laboratory centre, as well as going out to interested countries, aiding the development of the concept of GPCs, integrating it within the national or local infrastructure. My other main avenue of work lies in the development of a Sustainable Land Management reporting framework in conjunction with the United Nations Convention for Combating Desertification (UNCCD), and the Global Mechanism. This followed on from a project with the Global Mechanism regarding a Portfolio Review of all Sustainable Land Management projects in Sub-Saharan Africa for the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

I am enjoying the work and the challenges, and realise how good CABI has been in my scientific and professional development. Before joining CABI, I read a Natural Sciences degree from the University of Bath and completed a Masters degree at Imperial College London (Silwood Park campus) in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation. I also briefly volunteered in an animal conservation charity, in the Research and Development section. My main interests are travelling, sports and languages. I travelled around South America for 9 months, have visited India and been to various countries in Central and North America, Africa, and most of Central and Western Europe. I regularly rock-climb, play football and squash. I am fluent in English, French, and near-fluent in Spanish. CABI are further developing my language skills by introducing me to Italian. I am also captivated by Hindi, although learning could prove slightly tricky!

Marion Seier

Blog pictureMarion2

Dr Marion Seier

Principal Investigator – Invasive Species Management

After finishing university in Germany with a diploma in biology as my first degree I spent 9 months working as a summer student on various entomology projects at our CABI Switzerland Centre in Delémont. Following on from this I joined the invasives team at our UK Centre in 1991 to work on the use of fungal pathogens as biological control agents against invasive weeds. Initially, the focus of my work lay on tropical weeds which have become invasive in Australia, and here particularly Mimosa pigra and Parthenium hysterophorus. Three different plant pathogens which I studied for their potential as biocontrol agents for these two weeds have since been released in Australia “to do their job”. These weeds projects also included field work in Mexico and Latin America as the centre of origin of M. pigra and P. hysterophorus as well as in Australia, a time which I still cherish. I completed my PhD on the work I carried out for M. pigra and have since moved on to work as project manager and/or senior plant pathologist on a range of temperate weeds such as Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), Japanese Knotweed and Rhododendron ponticum. I am also involved in more general topics concerning the field of invasive species such as undertaking pest risk assessments for non-native organisms and devising strategies for prevention and control of alien invasive species in the insular Caribbean. Currently I am managing a project assessing a rust pathogen for control of Jatropha gossypiifolia which is invasive in Australia and a close relative of the biofuel crop plant Jatropha curcas.


Sonal Varia

Project Scientist – Invasive Species Management

I joined CABI in the summer of 2008 following the completion of a BSc in Biology from Royal Holloway. I was initially employed as a summer student under the biological control of Himalayan Balsam project. Since then, I have worked on numerous projects covering a range of themes, from screening fungi from the British Antarctic Survey for cold-adapted insecticidal enzymes to investigating the cost of invasive alien species to the British economy. More recently I have once more become involved in the biological control of Himalayan Balsam and in the stump control of Rhododendron ponticum using a plant pathogen.

I have also recently begun managing the biological control of Crassula helmsii project.

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