An Interview With Dr. Lee Raye

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mountain scene with traveller

Dr. Lee Raye is a tutor on some of our writing and environmental modules here at the Academy for Distance Learning. This week we had a chat with them about their hobbies, their research, and how generous they are when marking assignments!

Tell us about your role at ADL

I’ve been working at the Academy for Distance Learning for five years now and I really enjoy it. My most important responsibility is tutoring our complimentary modules, Academic Writing and Critical Thinking. Those modules are free for everyone who starts a course at ADL, and learners can write about whatever they want, so every submission is a bit exciting and different. I also regularly write for the official ADL blog, and I tutor on 30 other modules from Publishing to Environmental Assessment.

Wow, that’s a lot! What is your educational background?

I got my first degree (MA Hons, first class) at the University of Aberdeen in Celtic Studies, which is all about the landscape, history and languages of Britain and Ireland. After that I went on to get a Master’s degree (MSt) from the University of Oxford in the same topic, and I finished off with a research doctorate (PhD) in environmental history in Cardiff University. Since I graduated, I’ve also gained some professional accreditation. I have been made an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy for my teaching experience, and I have been voted a Fellow of the Linnean Society for my publications on the history of wildlife. I like to keep active with my learning and last year I also passed the official Royal Horticultural Society Level 2 exams to get a Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture.

Do you still do any research?

Yes! Last year I published a book called The Animals of Scotland which is a partial translation and introduction of a forgotten Latin tome called Scotia Illustrata. 350 years ago, the original author sent out questionnaires across Scotland to ask people what wildlife they had in their area. Rare species like the capercaillie, Scottish wildcat and pine marten were apparently common back then, and there are even possible references to now locally extinct species like the lynx and bustard. But every page of the book also describes how the wildlife can be exploited for food or medicine or profit. Do you have cataracts? Try rubbing the gall bladder of a golden eagle on your eyes! It’s simultaneously horrifying and wonderful, if you see what I mean.

Are you working on anything else right now?

I’m hoping to do some more translation of that Latin tome this year. I’ve also been working on another book, The Atlas of Early Modern Wildlife: I’ve discovered other texts like Animals of Scotland which describe local wildlife. I’ve been going through them and synthesising the records into a database and plotting them on maps. My Atlas will be the first ever wildlife guide to Elizabethan and Stuart Britain and Ireland. I’ve also recently written a biography of Anne Erroll (1656-1719) for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. She was a notorious Jacobite but also a great gardener and naturalist; that should come out in the next few months.

Do you do anything other than teaching and research?

I am really committed to helping to save the world, so I also work at a local university tending to the grounds. It’s great to be outside, and I get to carry out environmental projects, so I feel like I am making a difference. In Cardiff, where I live, native bluebells are in decline because of the numbers of Spanish bluebells which have escaped from gardens. Last year I planted 4,000 around Cardiff. I’m really excited to see what it will look like in spring. I also run a local project to encourage slow worms, and I love surveying our site each week in summer to see how many I can spot.

Keep an eye out for Part II of our Dr. Raye Interview!

Follow Dr. Raye on Twitter!

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