Adam Hart

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Adam Hart

Adam Hart in 2021
Adam Hart

Alma mater
AwardsNational Teaching Fellowship (2010)
RSB Science Communicator of the Year
Scientific career
Social insects
Science communication
InstitutionsUniversity of Gloucestershire
ThesisTask partitioning in insect societies (2001)
Doctoral advisorFrancis Ratnieks[2]
WebsiteOfficial webpage

Adam Hart FRSB FRES[3][4] is an English scientist, author and broadcaster, specialising in ecology, entomology and conservation, especially in southern Africa.[5][1] He has co-presented three BBC TV documentaries on social insects (BBC4's Planet Ant: Life Inside the Colony,[6] BBC2's Life on Planet Ant[7] and BBC2's Hive Alive[8]). Hart has written and presented numerous BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service documentaries and written more than 120 scientific papers.[1][9]

In 2015, he authored the popular-science book The Life of Poo about our complex relationships with bacteria.[10]

His 2020 book, Unfit for Purpose, detailed mismatches between human evolution and the modern world and was published by Bloomsbury.[11] In 2017, he presented the BBC World Service weekly science programme Science in Action and in 2021 he presented the series Tooth and Claw.[12] A second, and third, series of Tooth and Claw were broadcast in 2022.[13] In 2022, his career was profiled on Radio 4's Life Scientific. The episode was recorded live at the Hay Festival and focussed on his early work on honeybees and leafcutting ants.[14] His third popular science book, focussing on the difficult realities of conservation, The Deadly Balance: Predators and People in a Crowded World was published in 2023.[15] In the same year, he co-authored the academic book Trophy Hunting with Nikolaj Bichel.[16]


Hart was educated at the University of Cambridge, studying Zoology as an undergraduate student of Churchill College, Cambridge.[3] His PhD at the University of Sheffield investigated the co-operative behaviour of social insects,[2] and was supervised by Francis Ratnieks.[17] He became interested in insects because of their social behaviour.[18] He subsequently completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) at the University of Gloucestershire.[3]

Career and research[edit]

Following a postdoctoral position examining conflict in social systems,[19] he transferred to the University of Gloucestershire in 2005, where he is Professor of Science Communication.[3]

Hart has published scientific papers on a variety of topics, including entomology, ecology, disease, hygiene, nesting phenology, citizen science, Africa antelope surveying, thermal imaging, African grassland management and climate change.[1] In 2018 his research on spiders was named by Made at Uni[20] as one of the UK's 100 best breakthroughs for its significant impact on people's everyday lives.[21] Research Hart co-authored on the use of low-cost thermal imaging for anti-poaching work[22] won the 2019 Green Gowns Awards[23] in the Research with Impact category.[24]

He co-authored the Oxford University Press textbook Applied Ecology, described as "a cornerstone publication for all undergraduate students studying ecology",[25] and is a co-author of Introducing Forensic and Criminal Investigation, a textbook.[26] He has served as editor-in-chief of the journal Ecological Entomology and is currently[when?] an Associate Editor of that journal.[27] He sits on the editorial board of The Biologist, the magazine of the Royal Society of Biology,[28] and is an Associate Editor of Antenna, the magazine of the Royal Entomological Society.[29] Hart is also the founding co-editor of Instar, a magazine published by the Royal Entomological Society for children.[30]

Hart has an active involvement with large-scale citizen science projects that include the "Flying Ant" survey,[31] the "Spider in da House" survey and app[32][33] and the "Starling Murmuration" survey[34] with the Royal Society of Biology. The scientific findings of these studies have been widely disseminated.[35] In 2018 he led a team that studied, for the first time, the use of Twitter-mining in ecology,[36] which was covered by a number of news sites.[37][38]

In 2017, Hart co-ran the Big Wasp Survey[39] with Seirian Sumner, which attracted criticism from quarters in the national press[40][41] because it asked people to set up lethal wasp traps. Hart and collaborator Seirian Sumner responded to this criticism in press[42] and media.[43] Hart authored a piece for BBC Online News defending wasps and their ecological value as well as putting forward the scientific case for the Big Wasp Survey.[44] Hart later went on to make a BBC Radio 4 documentary and a BBC World Service series exploring some of the issues raised.[45][46]

As a commentator on science-related stories, Hart has frequently appeared in the national press, often contributing to stories involving invertebrates such as ladybird invasions,[47] spiders[48] and ants.[49] He has also discussed topics including the fear of spiders,[50] the threat of tree diseases,[51] banana disease[52] and insect conservation.[53]

Hart has a strong interest in African conservation and has published papers that include studies of grassland and herbivore management, surveying and has been particularly active in the trophy hunting debate. He has written a number of high-profile articles on related issues, including trophy hunting,[54] rhino poaching and the horn legalization debate,[55][56] the issues of fences in conservation,[57] misinformation in African conservation,[58] and the economics and conservation issues of breeding of color variant antelopes in South Africa.[59] Hart co-directs the scientific research program of the Nkombi Volunteer Program[60] in South Africa and is a trustee of the Wild Planet Trust.[61]

Following the publication of his book Life of Poo, Hart is also a frequent commentator on our relationships with bacteria, including the medical implications of gut bacteria.[62]

Hart believes science communication is about sharing science, saying that "The scientific method is our greatest intellectual achievement – it is a tool to understand ourselves and the universe. How could you not want to share that?"[19]


Hart has frequently appeared on and presented TV and radio science documentaries.[63][64][65] He co-presented BBC4's Planet Ant: Life Inside the Colony[6] (with George McGavin), a 90-minute documentary about leafcutting ants, and BBC's two-part series Hive Alive[8] (presenting with Martha Kearney and Chris Packham). Hart also presented Life on Planet Ant, aimed at a younger audience, for BBC2.[7] Planet Ant was nominated for Broadcast Digital[66] and Royal Television Society awards.[67]

Hart captained the University of Sheffield team[4] to the final of the BBC2 Christmas University Challenge series, which sees "teams of prominent alumni from 14 universities and university colleges...compete for the glory of their institutions and the honour of being declared Series Champions".[68]

Since 2011, Hart has presented BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service documentaries on an array of topics including honey,[69] migratory beekeeping,[70] swarm robotics,[71] tree diseases,[72][73] gut bacteria,[74] de-extinction,[75] trophy hunting[76][77] (in the wake of the Cecil the Lion story), the concept of free will in biology[78] and animal personality.[79]

In 2016, he presented documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service on human-induced evolutionary change,[80] the controversy over rhino horn trade[81] and on mosquito control.[82]

Hart presented the BBC World Service weekly science magazine programme Science in Action for three months in 2017.[83]

In 2018, Hart wrote and presented the BBC Radio 4 documentary Inside the Killing Jar, exploring the fact that entomologists often have to kill what they study.[45] The program investigated lethal sampling and the controversial idea that insects may feel pain and was later extended into a series for BBC World Service.[46] In the same year, he wrote and presented the 5-part series The Genius of Accidents for BBC Radio 4, which explored the role of accident and luck in scientific discoveries[84]

In 2019, following the broadcast of Inside the Killing Jar, Hart co-authored a commentary paper on the ethics of insects in research, with a particular emphasis on ecological sampling and by-catch reduction.[85] In 2020, he presented the documentary On the Menu for BBC Radio 4 that explored our difficult relationships with predators, including tigers, lions and wolves. This documentary developed into the series Tooth and Claw on BBC World Service. The first series broadcast in 2021, with a second series airing in 2022. Episodes cover the lives of predators and the people that study them.[citation needed]

Writing and public speaking[edit]

Hart is a frequent public speaker, lecturing on topics that include social insects,[86] citizen science[87] and trophy hunting[88] to schools, public audiences and special-interest groups.[19] In 2013 he delivered a 24-hour lecture on social insects as part of the Royal Society's National Biology Week.[89] He has also written numerous articles for newspapers, magazines and for the BBC Science and Environment pages, including opinion pieces on migratory beekeeping,[90] human-induced evolution,[91] animal personality[92] and the realities of modern-day African hunting.[93] He has written about the complex role of gut bacteria in human immunity.[94]

In 2015, his first popular-science book was published. The Life of Poo details our complex relationship with bacteria.[10]

He is a regular presenter and chair at the Cheltenham Science Festival, tackling topics such as tree diseases,[95] bees,[96] gut bacteria,[97] and garden moths.[98] He has also appeared at the Edinburgh,[99] Northern Ireland[100] and Malta[101] Science Festivals, speaking on, amongst other things, the role of gut bacteria and the use of pheromones in communication.[102] He has been a speaker at the New Scientist Live Event held annually in London.[103] In 2013, he hosted the EU COST Science Night in Brussels. He also hosted the 60th anniversary celebrations of the British Society for Immunology at the Royal Society and chaired the debate 'The changing face of medical research'.[104] In June 2022, he was the guest for an episode of The Life Scientific recorded at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.[17]

Awards and honours[edit]

In recognition of his academic work, Hart is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (FRES)[105] and of the Royal Society of Biology. In 2020, Hart was elected a Trustee of the Royal Entomological Society and chairs their Outreach Committee, and in 2022 was made Vice President.[106]

In 2010, he was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy[107] and the Society of Biology (now the Royal Society of Biology) Science Communicator of the Year award.[108] In 2011, he delivered the Charter Lecture for the Royal Society of Biology[109] and in 2015 he launched the University of Gloucestershire's public lecture series[110] and delivered the AGM address for the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.[111]

Other awards include:


  1. ^ a b c d Adam Hart publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ a b Hart, Adam (2001). Task partitioning in insect societies. (PhD thesis). University of Sheffield. OCLC 556903273. EThOS
  3. ^ a b c d e Hart, Adam. "Academic Homepage". School of Natural and Social Sciences. University of Gloucestershire. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  4. ^ a b "University of Sheffield Alumni Bulletin".
  5. ^ "Adam Hart". The Conversation. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Planet Ant: Life Inside the Colony". BBC Four. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Life on Planet Ant". BBC Two. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Hive Alive". BBC Two. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  9. ^ Adam Hart publications from Europe PubMed Central
  10. ^ a b Life of Poo. ASIN 0857832921.
  11. ^ "Unfit for Purpose". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  12. ^ "BBC World Service". Discovery. BBC. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
  13. ^ "BBC Discovery".
  14. ^ "Adam Hart on ants, bees and insect burgers". BBC. Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  15. ^ "The Deadly Balance". Bloomsbury. Retrieved 21 February 2023.
  16. ^ "Trophy Hunting, Bichel and Hart".
  17. ^ a b "BBC Radio 4 – The Life Scientific, Adam Hart on ants, bees and insect burgers". Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  18. ^ "Reading Survey Response: Adam Hart". Edinburgh International Science Festival. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  19. ^ a b c "Speaking to...Adam Hart". Speaking of Science. Julie Gould. 9 February 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  20. ^ "Breakthroughs". 28 July 2020.
  21. ^ Punchline Gloucestershire. "Gloucestershire's very own Spiderman". Punchline. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  22. ^ Hart, AG (2015). "Can Handheld Thermal Imaging Technology Improve Detection of Poachers in African Bushveldt?". PLOS ONE. 10 (6): e0131584. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1031584H. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131584. PMC 4481516. PMID 26110865.
  23. ^ "Green Gown Awards UK & Ireland | Green Gown Awards".
  24. ^ a b "Green Gowns Winners". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  25. ^ "Applied Ecology – Paperback – Anne Goodenough, Adam Hart – Oxford University Press".
  26. ^ "Introducing Criminal and Forensic Investigation". Sage Publishing. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  27. ^ "Editorial Board". Ecological Entomology. doi:10.1111/(ISSN)1365-2311.
  28. ^ "The Biologist editorial board". Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  29. ^ "Royal Entomological Society" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 September 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  30. ^ "Instar".
  31. ^ "Flying Ant Survey". Royal Society of Biology. Archived from the original on 3 September 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  32. ^ "Spider in Da House". Royal Society of Biology. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  33. ^ Jones, Rachel (17 September 2014). "Spider ID: know your window from your false widow". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  34. ^ "Starling Murmuration Survey". Royal Society of Biology. Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  35. ^ Hart, Adam (18 July 2017). "Viewpoint: Is there any such thing as "flying ant day"". BBC News. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  36. ^ Hart, A G (2018). "Testing the potential of Twitter mining methods for data acquisition: Evaluating novel opportunities for ecological research in multiple taxa" (PDF). Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 9 (11): 2194–2205. doi:10.1111/2041-210X.13063. S2CID 158983352.
  37. ^ Amos, Jonathan. "'Twitter mining' for ants, spiders and birds". BBC. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  38. ^ Science Daily. "Scientists take to Twitter to study flying ants, starling murmurations and house spiders". Science Daily. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  39. ^ [1]
  40. ^ Knapton, Sarah (22 August 2017). "Public urged to drown wasps in bizarre conservation projject". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  41. ^ Barkham, Patrick (23 August 2017). "Conservationists slam hateful survey promoting wasp killing". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  42. ^ Hart, Adam. "We faced abuse for asking people to kill wasps for science – here's why it was worthwhile". The Conversation. The Conversation. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  43. ^ Dolan, Luke. "Entomologist behind 'The Big Wasp Survey' defends project against criticism". Talk Radio. Talk Radio. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  44. ^ Hart, Adam (25 August 2017). "What's really the point of wasps?". BBC News. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  45. ^ a b Hart, Adam. "Inside the Killing Jar". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  46. ^ a b "BBC World Service Discovery". BBC World Service. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  47. ^ Corcoram, Liam (5 November 2014). "Plague of ladybirds set to descend on Britain but experts say don't panic". The Mirror. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  48. ^ Young, Matthew (17 September 2014). "Attack of the giant spiders: scorching summer leaves beasts poised to invade Britain". Daily Star. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  49. ^ Culbertson, Alix (3 August 2015). "Invasion of the flying ants: What might be in store for YOU when you get home tonight..." Daily Express. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  50. ^ "Spiders are misunderstood and feared for their shapel". The Daily Telegraph. London. 13 June 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  51. ^ Hart, Adam (23 June 2014). "Despite the lush summer leaves, our trees are under attack". The Conversation. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  52. ^ Leatherdale, Duncan (24 January 2016). "The imminent death of the Cavendish banana". BBC News. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  53. ^ "Gloucester bee conservation project wins £50,000". BBC News. 28 November 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  54. ^ Hart, Adam (September 2015). "Viewpoint: Uncomfortable realities of big game hunting". BBC News. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  55. ^ Hart, Adam. "Could legalising the trade in rhino horn save the species?". The Royal Society of Biology. The Royal Society of Biology. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  56. ^ Knapton, Sarah (16 December 2016). "Legalising rhino horn trade could stop poaching, suggests BBC presenter Adam Hart". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  57. ^ Hart, AG. "Don't Fence Me In". The Biologist. Royal Society of Biology. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  58. ^ "Misinformation about trophy hunting is wrong. Dead wrong". The Hill. 16 February 2021. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  59. ^ Hart, Adam. "Conservation versus profit: South Africa's 'unique' game offer a sobering lesson". The Conversation. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  60. ^ "About | Nkombi Volunteer Programme".
  61. ^ "Adam Hart • Wild Planet Trust". Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  62. ^ "Are 'poo banks' the new antibiotics?". 10 September 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  63. ^ "Midweek". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  64. ^ "BBC Inside Science". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  65. ^ "Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention: Bomb Detecting Bees". BBC One. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  66. ^ "Broadcast Digital Awards Shortlist". Natural History Network. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  67. ^ "RTS Awards: winners in full". BBC News. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  68. ^ "Christmas 2015 on BBC TV: A wonderful array of unique and quality shows for all the family". BBC. 24 November 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  69. ^ "The Golden Treasure". BBC World Service: Discovery. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  70. ^ "On the Trail of the American Honeybee". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  71. ^ "Frontiers: Swarm Robotics". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  72. ^ "Ashes to Ashes". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  73. ^ "The Tree Scientists". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  74. ^ "Frontiers: Gut Microbiota". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  75. ^ "Raising Allosaurus: the Dream of Jurassic Park". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  76. ^ "Big Game Theory". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  77. ^ "Discovery: Lion Hunting in Africa". BBC.
  78. ^ "Discovery: The Biology of Freedom". BBC World Service. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  79. ^ "Frontiers: Animal Personality". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  80. ^ "Unnatural Selection". BBC. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  81. ^ "The Horns of a Dilemma". BBC News. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  82. ^ "Goodbye Mosquito". BBC News. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  83. ^ "Science in Action". BBC News. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  84. ^ "The Genius of Accidents Series 1". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  85. ^ Hart, A.G. (2019). "Keeping invertebrate research ethical in a landscape of shifting public opinion" (PDF). Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 10 (8): 1265–1273. doi:10.1111/2041-210X.13208. S2CID 164526069.
  86. ^ "Community Lecture Will Delve into World of Ants and Bees". Dorset Echo. 8 January 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  87. ^ "Citizen Science". Cirenecester Science and Technology Society. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  88. ^ "University public lecture to ask if big game hunting in Africa can help conservation". University of Gloucestershire. 21 August 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  89. ^ "24 Hour Lecture with Professor Adam Hart". Royal Society of Biology. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  90. ^ Hart, Adam (26 March 2013). "Huge scale of California pollination event". BBC News. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  91. ^ Hart, Adam (2 February 2016). "Are humans drving evolution?". BBC News. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  92. ^ Hart, Adam (10 December 2014). "Is personality unique to humans?". BBC News. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  93. ^ Hart, Adam (September 2015). "Viewpoint: Uncomfortable realities of big game hunting". BBC News. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  94. ^ "Gut Feling". British Society for Immunology. BSI. Archived from the original on 11 April 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  95. ^ "What's Killing our Trees?". Cheltenham Science Festival. Archived from the original on 14 May 2016. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  96. ^ Devlin, Hannah. "Scientists find stingless bees keep spare virgin queen in a wax cage". The Times. No. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  97. ^ "Our Friendly Bacteria". Cheltenham Science Festival. Archived from the original on 4 May 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  98. ^ "Your Garden by Night". Cheltenham Science Festival. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  99. ^ "What About the Bees". Edinburgh Science Festival. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  100. ^ "NI Science Festival". Chemistry of Smells. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  101. ^ "Open Day for Science Expo". The Times. Malta. 10 April 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  102. ^ "Gut Feeling". Edinburgh International Science Festival. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  103. ^ "New Scientist Live Profile". New Scientist Live. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  104. ^ "BSI's 60th Anniversary Lecture". BSI. BSI. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  105. ^ Hart, Adam (26 June 2014). "National Insect Week: All you need to know about bugs in the home". The Independent. Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  106. ^ "Professor Adam Hart FRES". Royal Entomological Society. 2 December 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  107. ^ "Dr Adam Hart, National Teaching Fellow 2010". Higher Education Academy. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  108. ^ "2010 Science Communication Award Winners" (PDF). Royal Society of Biology. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  109. ^ "Charter Lecture 2011: How can we avoid preaching to the converted". British Ecological Society. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  110. ^ Moore, Shaun (5 January 2015). "Professor Adam Hart launches first Public Lecture Series at University of Gloucestershire". Gloucester News Centre. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  111. ^ "Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust AGM" (PDF). Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  112. ^ "Our Patrons". Bees Abroad. Archived from the original on 16 March 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.