Staff Profile

The silhouette of a white head and shoulders of a person against a grey background

Dr Richard Mather


Before joining Buckinghamshire New University in 1996, I was a researchsScientist working on several projects, mainly based at Oxford Forestry Institute and the Environmental Change Unit (both at the University of Oxford). These included an investigation of genetic and environmental control of wood quality in oak and leading geographical Iinformation system (GIS) based research to differentiate signals of air pollution impacts on forests in Europe from ‘background’ effects associated with meteorological, pest and disease factors. Among other GIS related projects were a study of long-term Acacia dynamics in N. Kenya and the development of ‘photomap’ services to support the equitable handover of state forest resources to traditional users in Nepal. I also worked for Buckinghamshire County Council as a Forestry Officer, mainly administering a programme of tree planting grants following storm damage. 

After graduating with a BSc in Biological Sciences I studied for an MSc in Forestry at UCNW, Bangor and then, while working as at Oxford Forestry Institute, undertook research towards the award of DPhil (Oxford) in Forestry Sciences. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of my area of teaching and research specialism (the application of GIS and remote sensing to monitoring and evaluating natural resources) I also studied for a further MSc (Oxford) in Software Engineering. The subject area is of great significance because satellite, aerial and, most recently, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide accessible and reliable data about condition and changes in natural resources, at a time of accelerating environmental change.

In relation to teaching, I have also led investigations into novel approaches, based on canonical statistical methods used for my environmental work, for analysing multivariate data to better understand factors that influence student engagement with learning environments, and with colleagues, a HEFCE funded investigation to explore interdisciplinary and team-based approaches for re-creating authentic work-based environments for learning.

My specialist geomatics knowledge has led me to work with a variety of clients including UK Government development projects in Guyana, East Africa and Nepal and, currently, with the coal mining interests in Australia.

My career highlights include developing an approach to extract pollution signals from forest condition data collected by EU Member States, introducing the use of ‘photomaps’ to improve the participation of marginalised stakeholders in establishing rights to manage forests in Nepal, being awarded the Institution of Analysts and Programmers (IAP) Prize for Software Engineering for developing software to automate complex image processing workflows for the purposes of evaluating the condition of natural environments. 

My professional body affiliations reflect the interdisciplinarity of my scholarly activity and I am a Senior Fellow of the HEA and a Member of the Institution of Analysts and Programmers.