Born in Sheffield, educated at the Herbert Strutt Grammar School (Belper, Derbyshire), and studied at the University of Leicester where I obtained BSc(Hons), PhD, and DSc degrees in botany. I worked as a mycologist, on the identification and classification of fungi (especially microscopic species and lichens), at the International (formerly Commonwealth) Mycological Institute at Kew from 1969-8. I returned as Director of that Institute in 1983 after serving for two years as Scientific Assistant to the Executive Director of the parent body of the Instituite, CAB International (formerly Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux) where I was involved in overseeing administrative, personnel and marketing functions. As Director, I was responsible for the relocation of the Institute from Kew to Egham, including designing new buildings, increased the staff to 75 (35 PhDs), the annual budget to over £ 2 million, and the Institute over 80% self-supporting. I took early retirement after 14 years as Director at the end of 1997 when the Institute ceased as part of a governmental restructuring of the parent body.
Since then I have operated as a consultant in general and environmental, and more recently forensic, mycology, including serving as an expert witness in the Courts. I am an author/co-author or editor/co-editor of 60 books, and over 650 other research publications. I have been involved in editing scientific books and journals for different publishers and scientific organizations, and am currently the Editor-in-Chief of two peer-reviewed journals: Biodiversity and Conservation and IMA Fungus. In addition I am an Honorary Research Associate at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (from 2014) and a Scientific Associate of The Natural History Museum London (from 2006).
I secured a research professorship in the Faculty of Pharmacy in the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in 2000, and lived in Spain from 2001 to 2007, after which I moved to Ashtead. My tenure of the Madrid position ended in June 2016. I have also served as a part-time Professor of Ecology in the University of Gloucestershire, and held Visiting Professorships at six universities, of which ones in Birkbeck University of London and the University of Southampton are current.
I have broad interests in the environment, including the bioindication of air pollution, and served on the Council of English Nature (now Natural England) from 1996-99. While living in north-west London from 1969-1997, I served as Chair of a group which prepared a long-term management plan for the Ruislip Woods (now a National Nature Reserve) for the London Borough of Hillingdon in 1982 which is still being followed. I was also involved in preparing major sections of UNEP's Global Biodiversity Assessment of 1995.
Since moving to Ashtead, I have served as a member of the Ashtead Residents Association Standing Committee and, along with my wife Patricia Wiltshire, have contributed to the Green Belt Boundary Review and Neighbourhood Development Plan as members of Ashtead Community Vision and Ashtead Neighbourhood Forum. I have also been a member of the St Stephen's House Surgery Patient Participation Group, representing patients' interest, which I have chaired since 2014. David is currently Leader of the Informal Independent Group.
I have served on various national and international scientific organisations, including as President of the International Union of Biological Sciences from 1994-1997. In 1996 I was honoured by being appointed CBE by HM The Queen for services to science.
10 The Mead