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Research interests

Soil acts as a sink for organic detritus and supports a remarkably diverse population of macrofauna (collembola, worms, mites etc.) and microorganisms (bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, algae and protazoa etc.) that mediate important links in the major elemental cycles, i.e. carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. Water from overland precipitation will either pass through or over soil and hence the composition of solutes will be greatly affected by the chemical nature of the corresponding soil(s). Pollutants may be partially controlled through complexing/bonding mechanisms within the soil matrix or by being rendered innocuous through chemical degradation. Furthermore, compounds immobilised within the soil matrix may be utilised to determine processes relating to recent and ancient human activity.

My research interests broadly encompass the use and development of biomarker and compound specific stable isotope methodologies to investigate the fate of organic compounds in soil and other closely related environments. Specific areas of interest include:

  • molecular fate of organic matter in soil,
  • use of volatile compounds (VOCs) as proxies for soil function and health,
  • chemical/microbiological consequences and fate of plastics in the soil,
  • ancient/contemporary sewage pollution in soils, sediments and freshwater,
  • effect that soil fauna have on the decomposition of soil organic matter,
  • decomposition and detection of human and animal remains in soils,
  • development of organic and light isotope mass spectrometric analytical methodologies,
  • ultra complex mixture analysis of environmental samples.

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • Cabot Institute Food Security Research
  • Cabot Institute Environmental Change Research


  • chromatography
  • mass spectrometry
  • soil chemistry
  • volatile organic compounds
  • microplastics
  • faecal biomarkers
  • microbial community
  • archaeological science
  • forensics
  • sustainable solutions


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