About the author

I am a Professor of Socio-Technical Innovation at Newcastle University, in a Research England funded Chair as part of N8 AgriFood. I am a transdisciplinary researcher specializing in environmental governance and research impact. The goals of my research are to: enhance the sustainability and resilience of peatlands and agri-food systems; and change the way researchers around the world generate and share knowledge so they can change the world.

I am based at the Institute for Agri-Food Research & Innovation and the Centre for Rural Economy in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences in Newcastle. I am a Visiting Professor at University of Leeds and Birmingham City University. I am Research Manager for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) UK Peatland Programme and a member of IUCN's international Committee on Ecosystem Management. I run a spin-out company, based on my research, training researchers how to embed impact in their research at: www.fasttrackimpact.com.

I graduated in 1997 and 1999 with a BSc (hons) Tropical Environmental Science and a MSc Agroforestry from the University of Aberdeen. I got my Post Graduate Certificate in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education in 2004 and my PhD in 2005 from the University of Leeds. I moved to the University of Aberdeen as a Senior Lecturer in 2009, where I became Director of the Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability, before moving to Birmingham City University as a Reader in 2012. I was made a Professor of Interdisciplinary Environmental Research in 2013, and was responsible for leading my School's submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF), before moving to Newcastle in 2015.

Publications and​ funding

  • Author/co-author of >100 international journal articles (33 as lead or corresponding author), 3 books and 60 book chapters and reports with >200 co-authors from 30 countries

  • H  index: 55 according to Google Scholar based on >17,000 citations.

  • 4 of my papers have been cited >1000 times (my most cited paper has >3000 citations) and 34 of my papers have been cited >100 times (12 as lead author)

  • Led 18 projects as PI worth a total of £3.8M (two worth >£1M)

  • Contributed to a further 27 projects as Co-I, Work Package leader or equivalent, worth approximately £4M to my institution (total value of these projects is around £30M)

Academic roles and positions

  • Member of funding panels for GCRF, UKRI Future Leader Fellowships, BBSRC, ESRC, NERC, ESPA and the EU Biodiversa programme and have reviewed proposals for the British Academy, Leverhulme, and for Dutch, Austrian, German, Swedish, South African and Swiss research funders. Invited by BBSRC to evaluate the UK Research Councils' Insect Pollinator Initiative (2013). Invited by BBSRC to apply for core membership of their Bioscience for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Strategy Advisory Panel 

  • Advised on impact to as a member of the Programme Advisory Group for NERC’s Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability programme (2011-2017). Advised and provided training on impact to the NERC Valuing Nature Programme (2015-2018) and the BBSRC Global Food Security programme (since 2018). Advisor on impact to Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) funded by Australian government

  • Handling Editor (Social Sciences) for Conservation Biology (impact factor 4.165; ranked 6/44 (Biodiversity Conservation) and 25/223 (Environmental Sciences)) (2016-2018)

 

Prizes

  • Awarded ESRC Michael Young Prize “rewarding the very best early career social scientists whose research has the potential to make a positive and far-reaching impact beyond academia” (2008)

  • Voted “best impact” in Rural Economy & Land Use programme for Sustainable Uplands project (2011)

  • The Peatland Code (which arose from my work on the Sustainable Uplands project) was shortlisted for the European Union’s Natura 2000 award (2015) and RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage’s Nature of Scotland Awards (2018)

  • My company, Fast Track Impact, was shortlisted as a finalist in the ARMA awards under the impact category (2016), and this work was recognised by a Royal Society award for changing research culture (2018)

 

Engagement and impact

  • I am Research Lead for IUCN UK Peatland Programme and a member of their international Committee on Ecosystem Management. IUCN own the Peatland Code, which I helped develop based on my research in collaboration with UK Government and its devolved administrations & agencies

  • I play a prominent role in the UN Global Peatlands Initiative (UNEP and FAO):

  • Chairing their Global Peatlands Research Funding Working Group

  • Leading their work to develop international standards for the collection of peatland research and monitoring data

  • Monitoring and reporting compliance with resolutions passed by UN Environment Assembly, Ramsar Convention and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (which drew on my research)

  • Speaking at side events organised by the Global Peatland Initiative at UNFCCC COP24 (Poland), COP25 (Spain) and COP26 (UK)

  • I will be a lead and contributing author to chapters in the forthcoming UN Global Peatland Assessment

  • Lead author of Impulse Report leading to opening keynote at UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)’s Committee for Science & Technology in 2015. This fed into the Convention’s 10 year plan and was extended as a book published by Earthscan/Routledge, with a foreword by the Executive Secretaries of the UNCCD and UNFCCC. The book was cited heavily in the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land (2019)

  • Nominated by UNCCD and consulted by UK Government and FAO to scope the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land

  • Lead author of a White Paper making recommendations which were delivered in a keynote address to UNCCD COP9 (2010)

  • Invited as a co-ordinating author to write a CGIAR working paper that fed into the UNCCD's first Global Land Outlook (2017)

  • Invited by GIAR to help design an international research programme for the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas worth $50M per year

  • Contributing author on the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service (IPBES) Thematic Assessment on Land Degradation and Restoration (2018)

  • Member of IPBES Nomination Review Panel to select experts to deliver the IPBES work programme and contributing author on the IPBES Land Degradation and Restoration report

  • Member of the Committee on Climate Change's (CCC) Land Use Expert Advisory Group, advising Government on the implementation of recommendations from CCC's Net Zero report (2020)

  • Member of Defra’s Sustainable Growing Media Technical Committee responsible for phasing out the use of peat in horticulture (since 2012)

  • Contributing author to UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) Mountains, Moors & Heaths chapter (2011) and co-led Shared Values Work Package for NEA follow-on (2014)

  • Scientific advisor to BBC Education and work has been covered by the Guardian, Radio 4, Radio Scotland and international media

  • Founder and CEO of Fast Track Impact, providing evidence-based training to >8000 researchers from >200 organisations in 52 countries since 2015