Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, University of Nottingham

Category: General

COP-26: why we should worry about climate change

With COP-26 happening this week in Glasgow, it is a key time to think about the effect of climate change on our planet and what we can do about it. Extensive use of fossil fuels, land use change and deforestation combined with a rising population are all putting pressures on the delicate balance on Earth and we must act now to limit and reverse any damage.

Agriculture is intimately linked with the health of our environment. 50% of all habitable land on Earth is used for agriculture with 26% of greenhouse gases emitted through agricultural production. Yet risks associated with poor diets are the leading cause of death worldwide. With global populations due to excerd 9 billion by 2050, how can we provide enough food whilst also limiting and reversing the impact on the environment?

As part of my research at the University of Nottingham, some of the work I undertake has direct implications for a future under climate change. I am particularly interested in the sustainability and resilience of our agricultural systems to climate change and how we can adapt to reduce their susceptibility. This includes the selection of crop varieties that are better adapted to the environment in which they are grown or the conversion from industrial agriculture dominated by large-scale cultivation of a single crop (known as monocropping) to alternative systems incorporating multiple crops or trees such as intercropping or agroforestry.

You can read more about my research in this blog.

How do we feed our astronauts on space missions?

As part of a new project, we will be looking at ways in which we can feed our astronauts on long-term space missions. A mission to Mars is expected to take 3 years, with 1-tonne of food required per year, per astronaut! With an 8 month trip required to send further provisions, space missions of the future will need to be self-sufficient. With many of the constraints of Earth-bound agricultural systems lacking is this our chance to rethink how we can grow our plants?

Joint with researchers including Professor Volker Hessel and Dr Matthew Knowling at the University of Adelaide and Professor Dov Stekel at the University of Nottingham we will be supervising a new PhD student starting in July 2021 to model closed-loop agricultural systems to simulate potential growing conditions in space.

The first UKRI ECR Forum

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is calling on postdoctoral researchers, research associates and other early career researchers to join its new Early Career Researcher Forum.

UKRI

Following the recent call for ECRs to join their new pilot forum, last week saw the first Induction week; a week long schedule of talks, networking and Q&A sessions aimed specifically at ECRs. Problems with the virtual conference platform, Whova, put a bit of a downer on the week but the ability to meet, network and exchange ideas with ECRs from a wide range of institutions more than made up for it. Finally a place for the voice of ECRs to be heard- more of this please!

To find out more and apply to the forum click here.

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