Staff profiles

Staff profiles

We are a small experienced team of scientists and project officers. We work with related academics across the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences. Our team staff profiles are below, and other academics that we work with can be found here.   

Professor David Gowing
Project Director

The Project Director is Professor David Gowing. He is responsible for overseeing the project and managing the Project Co-Ordinators. He also plays an important role in advocating for floodplain meadows including in discussions with Government. 

David has studied floodplain meadows for 18 years. He has won numerous research contracts from organisations such as Defra, RSPB, English Nature, the Environment Agency, and the Natural Environment Research Council. He has published widely including seminal papers in the world's leading scientific journals. He is regularly called upon to advise conservation organisations, statutory authorities and landowners within the UK and has numerous collaborations internationally (e.g. Netherlands and South Africa).  

Professor David Gowing | OU people profiles (

Emma Rothero
Project Manager

The Floodplain Meadows Partnership Project Manager is Emma Rothero. Emma has worked in the conservation sector for over 25 years. She has a degree in Freshwater Ecology from Liverpool University and a Masters in Applied Hydrology from the University of Wales, College Cardiff. She then worked for the Environment Agency for 12 years as a Conservation and Recreation and then Biodiversity Officer, providing conservation support to Environment Agency staff as they delivered their duties.

She took up the role of Floodplain Meadows Partnership Outreach Co-Ordinator in 2008, evolving to project manager. This role has included developing the project, securing longer term funding, and building a network of floodplain meadow enthusiasts. She has overseen the management and expansion of the Steering Group and the FMP team, and developed projects with local and national partners. She was responsible for the production of the Technical Handbook, the various iterations of the website, training programmes and other publications and materials. She has been responsible for building relationships with stakeholders and is recognised as a Senior Knowledge Exchange Manager at the Open University. 

Photo of Dr Irina Tatarenko in a meadow with a clipboard
Dr Irina Tatarenko
Research Manager

The Floodplain Meadows Partnership Research Manager is Dr Irina Tatarenko. Irina is a botanist with a particular interest in meadow ecology and orchids. She is responsible for organising and delivering the FMP survey programme across the UK, both collecting data directly and supervising the collection by others. She oversees the maintenance of the Meadows Database and ensures it is current and shared where relevant. She analyses data from the Database to support the production of reports and helps with delivery of training programmes. She is responsible for the production of related research papers, based around floodplain meadows and the Meadows Database.

Dr Irina Tatarenko | OU people profiles (

Olivia Nelson
Advocacy Officer

The Floodplain Meadows Partnership Advocacy Officer is Olivia Nelson. Olivia has worked in the conservation sector for nearly 20 years - mostly with the National Trust where she was a Senior External Affairs Officer, working on policy and campaigns across a swathe of issues including energy, aviation, planning, museums and horticulture, before becoming a Project Manager with a focus on bringing in a £1.8 million HLF bid Runnymede.  Along with a degree from Oxford University in Human Sciences Olivia has a Diploma in Environmental Management (Countryside Management) and she is a qualified Project Manager.  Since at the FMP Olivia has focused on key policy issues relating to agricultural funding reform, water quality, flooding and nature recovery.  Building stakeholder relationships and networks have been key including working with Wildlife and Countryside Link and the Nature Recovery Network.  Alongside her advocacy work Olivia also helped run the FMP's art competition and calendar publication in 2021. She has discovered she very much loves floodplain meadows, just not the hay fever they can bring! 

Image of Caroline O'Rourke
Caroline O'Rourke
Project Officer

Caroline O’Rourke is a Project Officer for the Floodplain Meadows Partnership and has been a floodplain meadows ambassador since 2017 and formally joined the Floodplain Meadows Partnership in 2022 as the project officer for Flourishing Floodplains.  She has a Postgraduate Diploma in biological recording from the University of Birmingham and is a keen botanist, holding a level 4 Field Identification Skills Certificate (FISC) from the BSBI. She has a background in habitat survey and project management, having worked for several ecological consultancies over 13 years.

She is responsible for management and delivery of a number of the partnership projects the FMP are involved in as well as providing support to the FMP survey programme and development of materials such as website re-design. 

Image of Dr Clare Lawson
Dr Clare Lawson
Supporting Academic

Dr Clare Lawson is a plant ecologist with over twenty years of research work in the areas of habitat restoration, the restoration of biodiversity on ex-arable land and the response of grassland ecosystems to environmental change.

She has worked with David Gowing, helping with the collection and analysis of data from floodplain meadows around the UK since 1996. She has supported the work of the FMP for a number of years, undertaking related research, most particularly on natural capital, and specifically soil carbon. She is now responsible for a number of the FMP’s projects, provides input to research matters and has been closely involved in promoting floodplain meadows through her work with the BBC in productions such as Countryfile and Springwatch. 

Photo of Mike Dodd in a field holding a camera
Dr Mike Dodd
Project Ecology Support

Dr Mike Dodd has a background in surveying and GIS and provides technical support to the team, helping with monitoring equipment and survey methods. He is responsible for the differential GPS and associated data.

He is the iSpot UK Curator based in the Faculty of Science at The Open University and has expertise in a number of groups of organisms. He supports the team on aspects of floodplain meadow ecology.

He is a talented photographer with over 25 years' experience in teaching and research including writing OU Science and digital photography courses, and supplies the FMP with the majority of the images that are used across the project.