BSc Agr 1986 University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Major: Soil Science, Minor: International Agriculture
MSc Biology 1994 Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
PhD Biology 2007 Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
My main areas of research interest are soil C and N cycling in agroecosytems, with particular emphasis on: reductions in N losses via leaching and denitrification; greenhouse gas emissions; and C sequestration. I have considerable experience using a range of techniques to study soil C and N processes. These include basic nutrient extractions, enzyme assays, soil C and N mineralization incubations, and nucleic acid techniques to study soil biodiversity.
I work in the area of organic farming and sustainability and have practical and research experience in organic sources of plant nutrients including compost, manure, green manures and cover crops.
I am currently involved in two EU FP7 projects. I am coordinator of N-TOOLBOX which is a Coordination and Support Action aimed at reducing N losses to water from agriculture. More details can be found at the project website (www.ntoolbox.eu).
I am also actively involved with the coordination of NUE-CROPS, which is a large integrating, research project related to the identification of genetic markers for improved nutrient use efficiency in wheat, potatoes, maize and oilseed rape (research.ncl.ac.uk/nefg/nuecrops). At Nafferton farm we have trials on wheat and potatoes as part of this project.
Part of the NUE-CROPS project will involve detailed studies of C and N cycling processes in the rhizosphere of wheat, and investigations of genotypic effects on rhizosphere microbiology (especially diversity and activity of fungi and bacteria).
In the future I will continue to develop my research into the effects of soil management on soil processes that control the cycling of C and N. This will include more in depth studies on the quantity and quality of C fractions within long-term plots at Nafferton farm. It will also include further studies on soil microbial diversity in long-term plots under organic and conventional management.
My research roles include the management of the research activities described above, as well as preparation of future grant applications, statistical analysis of data and writing and editing manuscripts for publication (my own, as well as those of other members of our research group). I am also actively involved in postgraduate student supervision.
I am a co-supervisor of Caroline Orr, a University of Northumbria student who is nearing completion of her PhD on the microbial ecology of free-living N fixing bacteria in soils taken from the Nafferton Factorial Systems Comparison trial.
I jointly supervise Mftah Almadni, who is working on the effects of crop variety choice and management on N leaching in experimental trials at Nafferton.
I supervise Jodi Handley who has just started a BBSRC-funded CASE studentship PhD focussing on wheat rhizosphere biology (as described above).
I am on the supervisory committee of Mohammed Almuarifi, a PhD student who is studying the effects of fertilization strategy and genotype on the phenolic composition of leaves and disease incidence in winter wheat.
I am also on the supervisory committee of Leo Rempelos who studies the effects of variety and crop management on the protein profiles of potato leaves and tubers.
I will be co-convening a session on "Predicting soil N mineralization; relevance of extractable organic matter fractions" at the upcoming European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna (meetings.copernicus.org/egu2011/). Please consider submitting an abstract!
N-TOOLBOX (2009-2013) Toolbox of cost-effective strategies for on-farm reductions in N losses to water. Role: co-ordinator; Sponsor: EU-FP7; Total grant: € 994K; Newcastle budget: € 345K
NUE-CROPS (2009-2014) Improving nutrient use efficiency in major European food, feed and biofuel crops to reduce the negative environmental impact of crop production. Role: project management in Newcastle; Sponsor: EU-FP7; Total grant: € 6,000K; Newcastle budget: € 1,566K
BBSRC Industrial CASE PhD Studentship - Genotype-soil interactions regulating nutrient use efficiency in winter wheat (2010-2014) Role: Principal Investigator Sponsor: BBSRC
I co-teach ACE1015 Soil Management for Crop and Animal Production with Dr. Robert Shiel.
I lead the postgraduate module ACE8062 in Soil Management in Ecological Farming Systems.