Mark Gardener is an ecologist, lecturer and author. I specialise in data analysis and especially in the use of R: the statistical programming language.


I am an ecologist, lecturer and author. I started out in the optical industry but after taking on a variety of roles, including practice manager and contact lens consultant, I returned to my passion, which is ecology and the natural world. I took a degree with the Open University, covering various natrual sciences. For a short while I was a Conservation Officer with the  London Borough of Sutton. After this I started a PhD on the Role of Amino Acids in Floral Nectar, with Dr. Mike Gillman and Prof. Jonathan Silvertown at the Open University.

My research has taken me around the world, doing fieldwork and so on. As well as the United Kingdom I’ve worked mainly in the United States and Australia. After a brief research post at the University of Hawai’i I returned to the UK, and now I carry out less direct research.

Currently I work as a consultant, running training courses in data science as well as undertaking analytical projects. I continue as an Associate Tutor for the Field Studies Council and run undergraduate courses in ecology, evolution and environmental science. Recently I started working for Birkbeck University, supervising MSc students in environmental science. I also write textbooks on data analysis, with the emphasis on ecology and science, as well as running training courses in ecology and data analysis. I work with Excel and R: the statistical programming language.

Research experience

My academic research has been in the area of plant-animal interactions, most notably in the area of pollination biology. My PhD was concerned with the chemistry of nectar; how it varied between plants and how animals reacted to the differing compositions. I have worked in many different habitats including: alpine meadow, desert scrub and tropical forest. I’ve also done some work on plant defence mutualisms and plant hybrid zones. See my research page for more details (including research publications).

Teaching experience

I started teaching whilst undertaking my PhD. I worked for the Open University and the Field Studies Council. I’ve been involved in teaching at laboratory-based residential schools in biochemistry and animal physiology as well as more ecological courses.

Mostly I have been involved in teaching ecology and statistics to undergraduates. Latterly I have worked on courses in environmental science. I have also worked on an MSc course in Biological Recording, where I taught ecology and statistics. This course was formerly run by the University of Birmingham but is now run by Manchester Metropolitan University.

I have always been interested in “how things work” and as an undergraduate I was always making spreadsheets to help me understand things. As a result I have been called on to help students understand data more and more. Over the years I have been involved in many research projects, with undergraduate and post graduate students. A chance meeting in 2002, with Dr Richard Rowe at James Cook University, led me to discover R, an Open Source statistical programming environment. I have become moderately proficient at using R and now run courses in its use.