Biography

I am Professor of Rural Entrepreneurship and Director of the Thriving Natural Capital Challenge Centre at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). I am a transdisciplinary researcher specializing in environmental governance and research impact. I work with rural communities to enhance the governance of natural and agri-food systems, and my research on impact is changing the way researchers around the world generate and share knowledge so they can change the world.

I am based at the Rural Policy Centre and Department of Rural Economies, Environment & Society. I am a Visiting Professor at University of Leeds, Newcastle 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 am a core member of UKRI-BBSRC's Bioscience for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Strategy Advisory Panel, helping BBSRC formulate its strategy for agriculture and food security. I am co-Chair of the United Nations Environment Programme's Global Peatlands Initiative Research Working Group. I am on Scottish Government's Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board to develop new policy proposals for sustainable farming support. I chair a Strategic Advisory Group funded by SEFARI with representation from each UK Government to advise on large-scale land acquisition for carbon, and regularly advise each of the UK governments on peatlands, natural capital and ecosystem markets. 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 and to SRUC in 2020.

IMGP6296.jpg

Highlights

 

Publications
 

  • Author/co-author of >100 international journal articles (34 as lead or corresponding author), 3 books and 60 book chapters and reports with >200 co-authors from 30 countries (averaging a rate of 8 publications per year since completing my PhD in 2005)

  • H index: 64 according to Google Scholar based on >23,000 citations

  • 53% of my publications are in the top 10% most cited worldwide and 12% in the top 1% most cited worldwide

  • 4 of my papers have been cited >1000 times (my most cited paper has >4000 citations) and 47 of my papers have been cited >100 times (18 as lead or corresponding author)

  • 69% of my papers are published in the top 10% of journals (based on CiteScore percentiles)

Funding

 

  • Led >20 projects as PI worth a total of >£4M (two worth >£1M) 

  • Contributed to >30 other 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).

  • I am a core member of UKRI-BBSRC's Bioscience for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Strategy Advisory Panel, helping BBSRC formulate its strategy for agriculture and food security.

  • 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):

    • Co-chairing their Global Peatlands Research 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)

    • Co-ordinating lead author in the policy chapter of the forthcoming UN Global Peatland Assessment

  • I am on Scottish Government's Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board to develop new policy proposals for sustainable farming support

  • I chair a Strategic Advisory Group funded by SEFARI with representation from each UK Government to advise on large-scale land acquisition for carbon, and regularly advise each of the UK governments on peatlands, natural capital and ecosystem markets

  • 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