Connor ODonoghue Hero image

National School of Forestry graduate wins ‘best dissertation award’

University of Cumbria forestry graduate is commended for having the 'best dissertation by the forestry management company, Tilhill Forestry.

Connor O’Donoghue a Woodland Ecology and Conservation graduate from Ulverston has won Tilhill’s 2022 award for ‘best dissertation’ on the BSc (Hons) course at the University of Cumbria, home to the National School of Forestry.

Connor, who wrote the best dissertation focusing on interactions between forest fungi, said:

“Thank you Tilhill for the award and prize, it’s both surprising and gratifying. The award is motivating for many forestry students to push themselves further and is a kind recognition to the students who really excel.

“Undertaking a university degree through the coronavirus pandemic was a highly limiting and isolating experience. I am aware that everyone was affected to varying degrees by the virus and by the restrictions, but I feel as though young people were seriously affected at a time when their social networking should have been at its peak. Despite this, the University of Cumbria and the lecturers on the forestry team made their best efforts to adapt their delivery of course content and maintain an engaging learning experience.

Connor ODonoghue Hero image

“I have just completed my Professional Tree Inspector's qualification and I'm also learning to drive; I will soon combine these two skills with those obtained over the course of my degree to seek self-employment in the field of woodland management and tree audit and assurance.”

The award, a specially carved wooden trophy along with £250 prize money, was presented to Connor at the University of Cumbria’s, National School of Forestry located at its Ambleside campus by John Lees, Tilhill North & Central England Senior Forest Manager.

Upon presenting the award, John commented: “It gives me great pleasure to present this award to Connor whose dissertation on the potential role of usingoyster mushrooms  (pleurotus ostreatus)  and multicoloured mushrooms (trametes versicolor) as biological control of honey mushrooms (Armillaria mellea) in the forestry setting is really very interesting and timely from a climate change perspective.  Well done to Connor for undertaking the course during what was a challenging period.

 "The increasing environmental, social, and economic importance of forests leads to exciting opportunities for graduates worldwide. We are thrilled to be able to offer Connor this award and wish him all the best for the future.

“It is a great time to announce that the Tilhill graduate programme is now open for graduates with drive, passion and enthusiasm who are interested in a career within the forest sector.”

Andrew Leslie, Senior Lecturer at the National School of Forestry said: “Connor was a dedicated and bright student, and this is reflected in the quality of his dissertation.  The topic he chose was unusual, but important to forestry in Britain, as we know relatively little about the interactions between different soil fungi and forest trees.  Thank you to Tilhill for recognising this interesting work through their prize for best forestry dissertation.”

Tilhill has a long association with the University of Cumbria as many of its past and present employees have studied there. The university’s location is ideal for studying forests and woodlands and its degree course has a strong professional focus.

As part of the company’s work to strengthen links with students, Tilhill offers awards to top-performing forestry students at leading universities that offer degrees in forestry-related subjects. The company also runs a popular graduate placement scheme.


Notes to editors


L: R John Lees, North & Central England Senior Forest Manager, Tilhill Forestry, Connor O'Donoghue being awarded his prize, Andrew Leslie, Senior Lecturer, University of Cumbria.