The Network Team

L to R: Richard, Soňa, Professor Gary Foster, Diane, Nina

To contact any member of the team please email

Dr Diane Hird, Network Manager

Diane is a plant molecular biologist by training. In her previous role she established and ran the editorial office of the scientific journal Molecular Plant Pathology. She has extensive experience of scholarly publishing and has built up a large international network of scientists. In 2012 Diane carried out an audit of plant pathology teaching and training in the UK for the British Society for Plant Pathology and has been involved in several plant pathology science communication and outreach events.

Dr Nina Ockendon-Powell, Network Manager

Nina trained in cellular and molecular biology and gained her PhD in comparative transcriptomics. She brings significant research project management experience to the CONNECTED Network Team. In recent years she project managed an international research collaboration at Public Health England, coordinating research activities across England, Sweden, France, and Estonia. Her most recent role at BBSRC saw her lead the delivery process of the 2016 Institute Assessment Exercise, which granted over £300M to BBSRC’s Strategic Institutes for tackling global challenges in bioscience.

Soňa Reale, Executive Assistant

Soňa has gained administrative experience working in a variety of sectors, for example financial services, and the NHS, and she has worked in higher education for the last two years.

Richard Wyatt, Communications Officer

Richard has 20 years’ experience in campaigns, communications and PR, gained mainly in politics & government, education, and the non-profit sector.