School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Student Profiles

Coleen Murty
Coleen Murty

  • PhD student
  • Email:
  • Address: School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Room 2.01 Drummond Building, Newcastle University NE1 7RU

Project title

The molecular characterisation of Sphagnum-derived phenolics and their role in peatland carbon cycling

Project description

I am a 2nd year PhD student working in collaboration with the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Newcastle University on disentangling complex geochemical processes occurring in peatlands.

The northern peatlands are powerful agents of carbon-sequestration and storage, storing approximately 1/3 of global terrestrial carbon stocks.

My research focuses on tracking the stability and fate of phenolic compounds derived from the major peat-forming species, Sphagnum moss. Phenolics play an essential role in carbon accumulation in peatland ecosystems by acting as anti-microbial agents, inhibiting the decay of organic matter.

The 1st year of this research was spent developing a method on LC-MS/MS, which has allowed us to track dissolved phenolics leached from peat and moss, and monitor their degradation patterns. Ongoing and future experiments include monitoring the stability of dissolved phenolics in different environmental conditions and measuring compound specific antioxidant capacities (AOC).

This project is supervised by Dr Geoff Abbott (Newcastle), Dr Christopher Vane (BGS), and Dr Neil Gray (Newcastle).


Organic geochemsitry, environmental carbon cycling, climate change


  • BSc (Hons) Earth Science (University of Glasgow, UK, 2011 - 2015)
  • MSc Environmental and Petroleum Geochemistry (Newcastle University, 2016 - 2017)