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Biography

I do research on ecosystem markets and environmental governance, and I study how researchers can generate and share their knowledge so they can change the world. I am Co-Director of SRUC's Thriving Natural Capital Challenge Centre, CEO of Fast Track Impact, Research Lead for the IUCN UK Peatland Programme where I sit on the Executive Board of the Peatland Code, and I co-chair UNEP’s Global Peatland Initiative Research Working Group.

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Highlights

 

Publications
 

  • Author/co-author of >150 international journal articles (>50 as lead or corresponding author), 4 books and >100 book chapters and reports with >200 co-authors from >30 countries

  • H index: 71 according to Google Scholar based on >28,000 citations

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

  • 6 of my papers have been cited >1000 times (my most cited paper has >4000 citations) and >50 of my papers have been cited >100 times (>20 as lead or corresponding author)

  • >70% 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 >£4.5M (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)

Engagement and impact

  • I am Research Lead for IUCN UK Peatland Programme where I led the development of the UK Peatland Code and now sit on its Executive Board

  • I play a prominent role in UNEP's Global Peatlands Initiative:

  • I regularly advise UK governments on ecosystem markets and environmental governance:

    • I established and sit on the cross-UK ecosystem markets policy coordination group (now chaired by JNCC), and regularly advise each of the UK governments on peatlands, natural capital and ecosystem markets

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

    • I advise Scottish Government as a member of the agriculture and land use working group for the Just Transition Commission, to help Scotland transition to net zero without leaving rural communities behind

    • I chaired 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 am a member of Scottish Government's Peatland Programme Scientific and Technical Advisory Group

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

    • I was a 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)

  • Other international policy work:

    • I was lead author of an Impulse Report which led to an opening keynote at the 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 work influenced decisions by the UNCCD to recommend further work on links between climate change and land degradation, culminating in IPCC's report on climate change and land (2019), which in turn helped shape negotiations in COP14 (2019) that led to a target for countries who are party to the convention to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030.

    • This followed previous work as a lead author of a White Paper making recommendations which were delivered in a keynote address to UNCCD COP9 (2010) and as a co-ordinating author to write a CGIAR working paper that fed into the UNCCD's first Global Land Outlook (2017)

    • I was a contributing author on the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service (IPBES) Thematic Assessment on Land Degradation and Restoration (2018), and their IPBES Land Degradation and Restoration report (2019) 

  • Contributing author to the UNEP-funded 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 >10,000 researchers from >200 organisations in 52 countries since 2015

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 (2018-2020). 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), and the Global Peatlands Initiative in which I played a number of key roles (see below) was shortlisted for the Nature of Scotland Awards 2022.

  • 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)

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Career history

  • 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

  • I became a Reader at Birmingham City University in 2012, 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)

  • I moved to Newcastle in 2015 as their Research England funded Chair of Sociotechnical Innovation, and to SRUC in 2020.

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