Team

We are a team of interdisciplinary researchers at different career stages including postdocs, PhD students and technicians working together to address some of the World’s most serious problems such as food security and climate change. We are international, with our team members nationals of Bangladesh, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Syria, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Prof Duncan Cameron

Principal investigator

Duncan Cameron is Professor of Plant and Soil Biology in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield. He is an environmental microbiologist and analytical biochemist studying the physiology and chemistry of plant-microbe interactions in the soil in the context of sustainable agriculture and global food security as well as the evolution of microbial symbiosis. Duncan is co-director of the University of Sheffield Flagship research institute, the Institute for Sustainable Food. Duncan’s research is highly interdisciplinary, with collaborative projects linking between science, social science and the arts. Duncan actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion at The University of Sheffield as a gay role model. After receiving his BSc in Animal and Plant Biology from The University of Sheffield and his PhD in Plant and Soil Sciences from the University of Aberdeen, Duncan undertook post-doctoral research in Sheffield before taking up a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and has held international fellowships in Germany and Australia. Duncan has extensive experience in translational research in the UK and overseas where he has taken his basic research findings into agricultural practice. In 2013, he received the World Economic Forum’s Young Scientist Award for “extraordinary scientists from across academic disciplines and geographies, under the age of 40, who commit to integrating scientific knowledge into society for the public good”.

Dr Anne Cotton

Research associate

Anne’s research focuses on microbial communities and the factors that influence their diversity, structure and function. She did her PhD studying the effects of atmospheric change on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi at the University of York. After this Anne has been a postdoc at the universities of Hull, Essex and Sheffield studying a wide range of aspects of microbial ecology. This has included projects examining whether alterations in soil fungal communities could be responsible for biodiversity-productivity relationships in grasslands and looking at the interactions between plant root chemistry and root associated fungal and bacterial communities.

Anne works on the NERC PARAMO and is researcher co-investigator on the BBSRC Bacterial diseases project. Anne was previously PDRA on the ERA-CAPS/BBSRC BENZEX project. Anne is jointly supervised with Tim Daniell

Jacob Nickles

Research associate/project manager

Jacob moved to Sheffield to begin his own business, and has been running and growing The Red Deer public house in the city centre since 2011. In 2015 Jacob collaborated with Prof. Duncan Cameron on a project looking into the omics of beer and related products, resulting in the recruitment and funding of a PhD student and Jacob’s subsequent role as industrial supervisor. Jacob was approached by The University of Sheffield in 2016 to act as Project Manager on an agricultural technology feasibility study in Oman. The resultant work from Jacob and his colleagues produced a successful grant application with the British Council, building an institutional link with Sohar University and securing £397,000 to build and demonstrate sustainable agricultural technologies for controlled growing of sensitive crops. In 2018 Jacob was asked to develop aquaponic systems in Kathmandu on a GCRF grant, with a view for further development and dissemination of agricultural systems and technology planned in conjunction with DFID Nepal. Recently, he has been project lead on an internally funded urban farm and training facility in Sheffield city centre, whereby hydroponics and controlled growing environments.

Jacob is named research associate on the NERC Signals in the soil and BBSRC bacterial diseases projects.

Harry Wright

Research associate

Harry competed his PhD chemistry where he optimised the formulation of polyurethane foams to be used as synthetic soils in the horticultural sector and is applying this knowledge to the bacterial diseases project. He completed his MEng (Chemical) with distinction, with his thesis specialising in PVC thermal degradation. He completed his BEng (Chemical) honours in 2013 with distinction, the honours subjects taken were all in the field of Polymer Science.

Harry is named research associate on the BBSRC Bacterial disease project and is jointly supervised with Tony Ryan. Harry’s PhD was also jointly supervised with Tony and was funded through the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures

Dr Moaed Al Meselmani

Research associate/Project manager

Moaed is a crop scientist with extensive experience in pathology and hydroponics.

Moaed manages the desert garden project.

David Pascual-Pardo

Research technician

David is an experienced research technician working on the BBSRC Bacterial diseases project, jointly supervised with Jurriaan Ton.

Irene Johnson

Senior research technician and laboratory manager

Research group technician maintaining laboratory fungal culture collection and coordinating mycorrhizal syntheses and isotope tracer studies. Irene is departmental radiation protection supervisor.

Kathryn Billane

PhD student (1st year)

The evolution of multidrug resistant bacterial pathogens, jointly supervised with Ellie Harrison and Mike Brockhurst (University of Manchester)

Funded by the White Rose BBSRC mechanistic biology DTP

Ryan Taylor

PhD student (2nd year)

The Role of Music in Science Public Engagement, jointly supervised with Nikki Dibben and Dorothy Ker

Self-funded PhD

Robel Patwary

PhD student (2nd year)

Understanding how the soil microbiome can be used to control greenhouse gas emissions from arable agriculture, jointly supervised with Tim Daniell

Funded by the Government of Bangladesh

Luke Fountain

PhD student (2nd year)

Promoting microbial nitrogen cycling to improve crop nitrogen availability, jointly supervised with Tim Daniell and Julie Gray

Funded by the White Rose BBSRC mechanistic biology DTP

Nicole Kennard

PhD student (2nd year)

Evaluating productivity, resource use, and microbiology of urban agricultural systems, jointly supervised with Tony Ryan and Jill Edmondson

Funded through the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures

Safirun Pervin

PhD student (3rd year)

Genetic control of biological nitrification inhibition, jointly supervised with Tim Daniell

Funded by The University of Sheffield

Hayden Hodges

PhD student (3rd year)

The Physical Chemistry of the Digestion of Grain: Determination of the Interplay between Digestive Enzymes, Commercial Feed Enzymes and Tannins in the Stomach of Domesticated Monogastric Animals, jointly supervised with Robert Falconer (University of Adelaide)

Industrially-funded PhD with Aaron Cowieson, DSM

Lizzy Parker

PhD student (3rd year)

The role of Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (AM) in drought alleviation in crops: identifying the underpinning physiological mechanisms, jointly supervised with Sue Hartley and Julie Gray

Funded by the White Rose BBSRC mechanistic biology DTP

Lee Eales

PhD student (4th year)

The technology and chemistry of medieval brewing, jointly supervised with Caroline Jackson and Robert Falconer (University of Adelaide)

Funded by The University of Sheffield

Amal Ashour

PhD student (4th year – remote supervision)

Genetic variation in mycorrhiza-induced disease resistance in Zea mays – based at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and co-supervised with Dr Amal Aldhebiani

Funded by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Former group members

Emilio Garcia (PhD student 2016-20 [submitted])

Dr Ruth Wade (PDRA 2016-17)

Dr Mark Burrell (RA 2015-17)

Dr Theo Kempapidis (PhD student 2015-19)

Dr Niall Bradshaw (PhD student 2015-19)

Dr Megan Sørensen (PhD student 2015-19)

Dr Ewan Minter (PDRA 2014-17)

Dr Andy Dean (PDRA 2014-16)

Dr Nichola Austen (PhD Student 2014-17; Research Technician 2017-18; PDRA 2018-19)

Ewan Marshall-Harries (Research Technician 2014-16)

Dr Ingrid Robertson (PhD student 2013-16)

Dr Alex Perez de Luque (Marie Curie Fellow 2013-15)

Dr Will Summers (Research Technician 2013-14)

Dr Isobel Eyres (PDRA 2012-15)

Dr Despina Berdeni (PhD student 2012-16; PDRA 2016-18)

Dr Steve Muddimer (PhD student 2012-16)

Dr Tom Thirkell (PhD student 2012-16)

Dr Andy McNally (PhD student 2012-16)

Dr Chris Hepworth (PhD student 2012-15)

Dr Kate Allinson (Research Technician 2012-14)

Dr Tom Young (PhD student 2011-2015)

Dr Ludovic Duvaux (PDRA 2012-14)

Dr David Hopkins (PhD student 2011-2015)

Dr Tom Harcourt (PhD student 2011-2015)

Dr Alexandra Lee (Research Technician 2011)

Dr Steffi Tille (Research Technician 2010-2013; PhD Student 2013-2016; PDRA 2016-19)

Dr Bleddyn Hughes (RA 2010-14)

Dr Sameera Alghamdi (PhD student 2010-2015 [part-time])

Dr Nicola Collins (PhD student 2010-14)

Prof Katie Field (PDRA 2009-15)

Natasha Rossel (Research Technician 2010-11)

Dr Richard Waterman (PDRA 2010-12)

Dr Abdulaziz Abualgaith (PhD student 2009-12)

Dr Oliver Kent (PhD student 2008-12)

Dr James Fisher (PhD student 2008-12)

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