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samantha cook


Dr Samantha Cook

Behavioural Ecologist

Protecting Crops and the Environment

Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ
+44 (0) 1582 938 488
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Sam is working towards the development of ecologically-based tactics for integrated pest management (IPM) that will help farmers to sustainably intensify production while minimising negative environmental impacts, particularly those associated with insecticide use. She has a wide knowledge of the pest ecology of arable crops with particular interest in oilseed rape, and on control of pollen beetle and cabbage stem flea beetle. Sam’s approach is to gain a better understanding of the behavioural ecology of insect pests and their natural enemies: monitoring, prevention, and alternative control. Sam’s latest area of work has been to develop an IPM strategy for pollen beetles in OSR. Understanding their immigration processes and spatio-temporal distribution in the crop has led to improved monitoring methods; knowledge of host-plant location processes led to the development and commercialisation of a monitoring trap; and understanding host-plant preferences is exploited in habitat management methods. Conservation biocontrol options have been improved by formulating field-margin mixtures that support the natural enemies of OSR pests. Sam is currently leading a multi-site field-scale experiment on farms throughout the UK in the ASSIST programme, working towards understanding how “nature-based” farming approaches enhance the natural processes that underpin crop yield.

Strategic Programme

  • Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems (ASSIST)

Science Projects

  • Validation of an integrated pest management IPM strategy for pollen beetle to minimise the development of insecticide resistance

PhD Projects

  • Modelling the temporal and spatial ecology of the oilseed rape pest Meligethes aeneus; implications for integrated pest management strategies
  • Quantifying the impacts of the neonicotinoid restriction on oilseed rape pest control, pollination and productivity
  • Developing a trait-based predictive framework for assessing trade-offs and synergies in natural pest control and pollination services in arable systems


  • 2000 - PhD Life Science, University of Nottingham
  • 1996 - MSc Crop Protection (with distinction), University of Aberdeen / Scottish Agricultural College
  • 1993 - BSc (Hons.) Applied Biological Sciences, The Manchester Metropolitan University

Measures of Esteem

  • Present - Inaugural member of the BCPC
  • Active member of IOBC
  • Present - Editor of IOBC Bulletins on Integrated Control in Oilseed Crop
  • 2015 - Invited Keynote at the 14th International Rapeseed Congress, Saskatoon, Canada: IPM of insects in Canola
  • 2014 - Royal Horticultural Society Silver Medal Award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for an exhibit on my work in the Discovery Zone: Petals & Pests