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New voices on sustainability

Hear from three early career researchers from the Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering, who explore new ideas on sustainability through their research.

Date/Time: 30th October 2014

Buzzards and grouse moors: Predators and sustainable moorland management

Richard Francksen, PhD student, School of Biology

The common buzzard is a protected bird of prey with an increasing population in the UK. This increase has created concern among some stakeholders over impact on economically important game birds. My research aims to better understand the extent of any impact. I have conducted diet studies and field observations of buzzards on moorland managed for the shooting of red grouse in southwest Scotland.

The aim is to explore how buzzards respond to changes in prey abundances, and use this to predict impact on red grouse. I aim to place my research in the context of sustainable moorland management, and explore how we can use scientific monitoring to inform socially and environmentally sustainable policy decisions.

Can ‘magic’ stone lines increase crop production and improve livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa?

Lisa Bunclark, PhD student, School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

There is a close correlation between hunger, poverty, and water: most of the world’s poor and hungry live in regions where water poses a particular constraint to crop production. One such region is sub-Saharan Africa, where for millions of small-scale farmers delivering sustainable improvements to crop production requires that they make best use of limited rainfall.

Water harvesting - the collection and concentration of rainfall runoff for plant production – is one strategy widely promoted as the key to achieving production improvements, yet experiences of farmers have been mixed. A sustainable rural livelihoods approach can help us understand why.

Bio-inspired catalyst to reduce CO2 Emissions

Gaurav Bhaduri, PhD student, School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials

Increase in global climatic temperatures is due to increase in amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has given a 2 °C safe limit that is fast approaching. Therefore there is a necessity to reduce CO2 emissions.

Inspired by the presence of nickel on the sea urchin exoskeleton (acknowledgement of Dr Lidija Šiller), it was found that nickel nanoparticles can help convert CO2 to carbonic acid. Nickel nanoparticles can therefore enhance CO2 capture from power plants. Captured CO2 can be compressed and stored underground or in presence of calcium ions can be converted to CaCO3 and reutilized.