A versatile communicator, Mark Spencer has appeared on a wide range of television programmes in the UK and internationally, talking about the fascinating world of plants; most recently on Living the Life, Islam TV and on Nature’s Weirdest Events, BBC2 talking about the ‘mysterious’ appearance of furry green balls on a beach in Australia. Mark has been a guest on The Infinite Monkey Cage, BBC Radio 4 discussing the role of botany in forensic science. He has also featured on news and current affairs TV and radio programmes including Sky News and Countryfile, talking about a wide range of issues involving plants; he is regularly used to communicate on topics such as invasive non-native species, and the impacts of climate change on the living world.
Mark has been enjoying and learning about the natural world since he was a small boy and was fortunate to be able to spend extended summer holidays on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall where his love and knowledge of British plants matured. He has in-depth knowledge of the plants and fungi of NW Europe and this extends into a keen personal interest in responsible foraging.
As a forensic botanist, Mark has worked on various missing person enquiries, murders and other serious crimes in the United Kingdom. Forensic botany is the application of scientific knowledge based upon vegetation to help l interpret the events surrounding crime; the regrowth patterns of brambles or soil and vegetation fragments on the sole of a shoe can help bring criminals to justice.
Earlier in his career, Mark was a professional nurseryman and gardener and studied at Kew Gardens where he became particularly interested in the history of gardening. That interest has continued to the present day and Mark has significant knowledge of the 17th and 18th century botanic gardens of Europe and their role in the development of medicine, agriculture, horticulture and empire. This interest in ‘the Enlightenment’ era is also reflected in Mark’s passion for the life and works of Carl Linnaeus, to many the father of modern biology. Mark’s interest in the history of biological science is also reflected in his work, for 12 years he worked at the Natural History Museum as a research scientist and as a senior curator. He is an acknowledged expert in the use of natural history collections for investigating the impacts of climate change and non-native invasive species on Britain’s plant-life. In his spare time, Mark enjoys walking the streets of London hunting for unusual plants and is co-ordinating a London-wide project to document its wild plant-life.
Mark is an experienced public speaker and has given talks on all the topics described above; he is particularly respected for his ability to enliven the allegedly dull world of plants to a wide range of audiences including school groups, art societies and even accountants! Recently, he has joined the National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) as an accredited lecturer and is available to give talks on a wide range of topic relating to forensic botany, the history of botanic gardens and our wild plant-life.