Permanently-cold regions account for roughly 80% (by volume) of the biosphere of our planet, which has already been subject to four major glaciations in the last 500 thousand years. Yet we remain profoundly ignorant of the richness & significance of the biodiversity inhabiting these regions since it is largely microbial in nature. However the attention focused upon these regions as a consequence of their apparent vulnerability to climate change coupled with the rapid pace of technological & conceptual development in microbial ecology offers the prospect of unlocking the secrets of life on our frozen planet.
I am interested in improving our understanding at all scales of the dynamics of microbial communities associated with glaciers&ice sheets, from the molecular to the biome. These communities are potentially significant in terms of carbon cycling, interactions with glacier dynamics, as habitats for a diverse range of life-forms & finally models for other microbe-dominated habitats. Away from the ice, I am also involved in projects studying the occurrence of pathogens within the natural environment & the microbial ecology of mine drainage.
A common research theme is the integration of field-based sampling & experimentation (often in the High Arctic or Alps) with laboratory analyses which leverage significant investment at IBERS in terms of high-throughput DNA sequencing (metagenomics & amplicon sequencing) & other -omics strategies.
I jointly lead the Centre for Environmental Microbiology. I am Co-Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on a variety of projects supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (New Investigator), The Royal Society, the NERC/BBSRC SynTax scheme (Co-PI), the Systematics Association, the Society for General Microbiology, the Freshwater Biology Association (Co-PI) & EU FP7 InterAct. I also act as the lead supervisor for the three PhD students in my research team.
I graduated from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth with a first degree in Microbiology in 2005, staying to complete a Ph.D. within the Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences in 2009. During the tenure of my Ph.D. and as a teaching fellow (2008-2009) I was involved in developing Welsh Medium teaching within the field of Biological Sciences, and continue to do so in my present role as Lecturer (2010) and Senior Lecturer (2015).