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Featured ESI Academic of the Month

Dr Laura Newsome, Lecturer in Geomicrobiology, is our Featured Academic for September 2021!

Click here to view her profile page.


Some of her key publications:

Newsome, L., Bacon, C. G., Song, H., Luo, Y., Sherman, D. M., & Lloyd, J. R. (2021). Natural attenuation of lead by microbial manganese oxides in a karst aquiferScience of the Total Environment754, 142312.

Lopez-Adams, R., Newsome, L., Moore, K. L., Lyon, I. C., & Lloyd, J. R. (2021). Dissimilatory Fe (III) Reduction Controls on Arsenic Mobilization: A Combined Biogeochemical and NanoSIMS Imaging ApproachFrontiers in microbiology12, 219.

Newsome, L., Arguedas, A. S., Coker, V. S., Boothman, C., & Lloyd, J. R. (2020). Manganese and cobalt redox cycling in laterites; Biogeochemical and bioprocessing implicationsChemical Geology531, 119330. View the blog and an explanatory video.

Newsome, L., Morris, K., Cleary, A., Masters-Waage, N. K., Boothman, C., Joshi, N., ... & Lloyd, J. R. (2019). The impact of iron nanoparticles on technetium-contaminated groundwater and sediment microbial communitiesJournal of hazardous materials364, 134-142.

Newsome, L., Lopez Adams, R., Downie, H. F., Moore, K. L., & Lloyd, J. R. (2018). NanoSIMS imaging of extracellular electron transport processes during microbial iron (III) reductionFEMS microbiology ecology94(8), fiy104.


Relevant talks:

Hear Laura Newsome's talk at the Royal Cornwall Geological Society back in May 2021 titled "Geomicrobiology - how microbes change the world." 

Laura gave the talk "Microbe-metal interactions in extreme environments" at the Microbiology Symposium earlier this year.



Laura Newsome, along with Tomasa Sbaffi and Carmen Falagan Rodriguez, collaborated with artist Hugo Glasier with the ESI Creative Exchange exhibition titled "Hidden in Plain Sight."  This was a photographic journey into the subsurface of Cornwall’s mining heritage. 

Dr Laura Newsome is also the chair of the Environmental Mineralogy Group (EMG) of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain & Ireland. View their science outreach competition where you could win £300 by submitting a short video of your favourite mineral !


Dr Laura Newsome will deliver the #esiStateOfTheArt talk “Small but Mighty; how Microbes change the Earth” on Monday 27 September 2021 1 – 2pm.

Although microbes are very small, their metabolism changes the world, both in the present day and the geological past. This talk will introduce the field of geomicrobiology and show how we can use cutting edge microscopy and spectroscopy to elucidate the ways in which microbes interact with minerals and can clean up pollution. I will also highlight some of my ongoing research into exciting and unusual environments where I have found microbes in Cornwall.

Professor Karen Hudson-Edwards, Professor in Sustainable Mining is our Featured Academic for September 2020!

Click here to view her profile page.


Karen Hudson-Edwards was one of the speakers at the 4th September Camborne School of Mines Business Breakfast, where the theme was Tailings: Updates from QUEX (The Universities of Queensland and Exeter).

Karen was also part of the “Space Technology in Extreme Mining Environments” held on 8th September.  This was a collaborative event between South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SWCoESA), Satellite Applications Catapult, MineSense and Exeter Extreme Environments. It summarised the challenges faced in working in extreme mining environments, and how satellite technology can help to solve these challenges.

Some of her newest publications:
Riley, A.L., MacDonald, J.M., Burke, I.T., Renforth, P., Jarvis, A.P., Hudson-Edwards, K.A., McKie, J., Mayes, W.M. (2020) Legacy iron and steel wastes in the UK: Extent, resource potential and management futuresJournal of Geochemical Exploration, 219, 106630.

Hubau, A., Guezennec, A.-G., Joulian, C., Falagan, C., Dew, D., Hudson-Edwards, K.A. (2020) Bioleaching to reprocess sulfidic polymetallic primary mining residues: Determination of metal leaching mechanismsHydrometallurgy, 197, 105484.

Li, W., Liu, J., Hudson-Edwards, K.A. (2020) Seasonal variations in arsenic mobility and bacteria diversity of Huangshui Creek, Shimen Realgar Mine, Hunan Province, ChinaScience of the Total Environment, 749, 142353.


The European Association of Geochemistry selected Karen as The Distinguished Lecturer 2019. 

This program aims to introduce and motivate scientists and students located in under-represented regions of the world to emerging research areas in geochemistry. The Distinguished Lecturer is selected each year based on a combination of outstanding research contributions to geochemistry and the ability to clearly communicate these contributions to a broad audience.

View her lectures from last years Distinguished Lecturer tour:


Karen gave the inaugural State of the Art talk “Exeter Extreme: The New University Hub and Examples from Mine Waste Environments” on Monday 28th September 1 – 2pm. ‌

Extreme environments are spaces or habitats with harsh or severe conditions. The extremes encountered include those respect to radiation, acidity or alkalinity, pollution, temperature, salinity or lack of oxygen or water, disease, political stability, equity, economic status, safety and others. ’Exeter Extreme’ is a new university hub that aims to apply the lessons learned from research on extremes to prepare us for the extreme present and extreme futures. This presentation will introduce the Exeter Extreme hub, and illustrate this with examples from Karen Hudson-Edwards’ research on mine wastes, which are themselves extreme environments and host extreme organisms. 

Click here to view the video from her talk.


Dr Tomas Chaigneau, Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences for our Environment is our Featured Academic for October 2020!

Click here to view his profile page.


Tomas Chaigneau has recently been funded as Co-I (20%) on a FORMAS (Swedish research council) grant worth in total approximately £1,760,500. Carl Folke, Tomas Chaigneau. Anne-Sophie Crepin. Maike Hamann, Robert Heilmayr, Patrik Henriksson, Emilie Lindkvist, Juan Rocha Gordo, Caroline Schill, Andrew Tilman and Tong Wu: “Inequality and the Biosphere: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in an unequal world”  The project aims to identify synergies and trade-offs between reducing inequalities (SDG 10) and safeguarding the biosphere (SDGs 14 and 15). It will aim to identify patterns between different types of inequality and environmental indicators, understand the processes through which inequalities influences environmental behaviours and engage with stakeholders in across scales to identify practices that can harness win/win interactions between SDGs while minimizing trade-offs.


Leading up to Tomas Chaigneau’s #esiStateOfTheArt talk, read his paper about ‘Inequality and the Biosphere’ in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources.

Whilst behavioural economics research has provided critical insights into understanding and predicting environmental behaviours, an important consideration that remains largely unexplored is to what extent people behave differently given their differing wellbeing and poverty levels. This is particularly important when considering sustainable development which not only strives for environmental sustainability of marine and land based resources but also seeks to address inequality and the eradication of poverty in all its forms. There is a need to further expand our understanding of human behaviours by bringing together a large body of work from the social sciences on human wellbeing with insights from behavioural economics.”


Tomas gave the State of the Art talk “Striving for sustainability in an unequal world” on Monday 26th October 1 – 2pm. ‌

Inequality is one of the key social challenges of our time. Reducing inequality is not only a policy target for many nations but can also impact the biosphere, and as such, can shape the achievement of sustainable development goals. However, remarkably little work has sought to understand the effect of inequalities on the natural environment. This talk will explore what work has been done to date  on inequalities (in both natural and social systems) and its role in shaping environmental sustainability and introduce some preliminary findings and ongoing research on the topic. It will identify some of the key disciplines and concepts from the natural and social sciences that could start to unravel this complex link further, and discuss the merits of future research in such an unexplored research topic.

Click here to view the full video from his talk.

‌‌Dr Xiaoyu Yan, Senior Lecturer in Energy and Environment is our Featured Academic for November 2020!

Click here to view his profile page.


A new four-year project ‘GREENPEG’ has received a grant of €8.3 million from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to develop new techniques to explore for pegmatite rocks containing lithium and other green technology metals. The University of Exeter team, which will receive nearly €780k, is led by Ben Williamson with Frances Wall, Camborne School of Mines and Xiaoyu Yan, Engineering, supported by post-doctoral researchers Kate Smith and Rob Pell. 

The University of Exeter will lead a pioneering new research centre, designed to revolutionize how crucial metals are extracted, used and reused in clean and digital technologies across the UK. This project will be led by Frances Wall, along with Xiaoyu Yan, Karen Hudson-Edwards and other colleagues from Camborne School of Mines, the Environment and Sustainability Institute, the Renewable Energy department and the Business School.

Xiaoyu is leading the Circular and Low Impact Processed Food (CLIP) project funded by European Regional Development Fund through the Agri-Tech Cornwall programme. CLIP aims to develop a freely available tool that can help better understand and ultimately improve the environmental performance of processed food products, ensuring the sustainability of the sector in the medium and long-term. We will work with processed food manufacturers in Cornwall, in the first instance Cornish Pasty makers, create the tool in a way that can help these businesses improve existing products and design new products.

Read his paper on plastic bottle vs glass bottle in Cornwall.“It is crucial to consider the waste infrastructure and management practices in place and use life cycle thinking-based models to evaluate any solutions to plastics pollution in order to avoid problem shifting.”

A new publication in Energy Policy “Energy-food nexus in the marine environment: A macroeconomic analysis on offshore wind energy and seafood production in Scotland.”From a macroeconomic perspective, offshore wind farms have a negative, but limited, effect on seafood production sectors while having a positive impact on the economy overall and benefiting lower income households.


Xiaoyu delivered the State of the Art talk “Quantifying environmental performance of human systems across socioeconomic scales” on Monday 30th November 1 – 2pm. ‌

We, as a species, have managed to drastically degrade the environment (air, water and land) over the last couple of decades, endangering not only our own life support systems but also other species on Earth. In recent years, the tide seems to have turned, with individuals, communities, organisations and nations mobilising to take more action on pressing sustainability challenges such as climate change, air pollution and plastic waste. However, we need to have a holistic and quantitative understanding of the environmental implications of everything we do. Otherwise, how can we know if we are doing the right thing(s)? In this talk, I will explain the methods that are commonly used to quantify the environmental performance of defined human systems (e.g., a product, a household, an organisation, a sector etc) from a whole life cycle perspective. Examples from past and ongoing projects will be used to show that sometimes well-intentioned actions can result in unexpected and undesirable consequences. I will end by sharing some thoughts on future directions in this area.

Click here to view the full video from his talk.


Dr Anne Leonard, NERC Innovation Fellow, is our Featured Academic for January 2021!

Click here to view her profile page.


Read Anne Leonard's paper based on the findings from the Beach User Health Survey:  A cross-sectional study on the prevalence of illness in coastal bathers compared to non-bathers in England and Wales in Water Research.

Read another relevant paper for her upcoming talk: Exposure to and colonisation by antibiotic-resistant E. coli in UK coastal water users: Environmental surveillance, exposure assessment, and epidemiological study (Beach Bum Survey) in Environment International.

Last year Anne and Isobel Stanton talked to Ellen Hussain on BBC Costing the Earth about their research done in collaboration with Aimee Murray, Lihong Zhang and Will Gaze. Listen to the podcast here "Swimming in Superbugs".

Her work was cited in the WHO’s recommendations to the Bathing Water Directive on maintaining safe bathing water quality, and in the Environment Agency’s 2020 report on health, people and the environment. The risks of human exposure to AMR in water were also referenced in the UK government’s 5-year AMR strategy, in which tackling AMR in the environment was identified as a priority.

Anne talked about the University of Exeter Medical School study which examined wehther we are exposed to antibiotic reistance in coastal waters. 
View the full video here.


Anne delivered the State of the Art talk “Interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the spread of microbes and antimicrobial resistance in aquatic environments” on Monday 25th January 1 – 2pm. ‌

Antimicrobials have been an important aspect of Western medicine in the management of infections since their manufacture and widespread use in the 1940s. However, antimicrobial resistance (the ability of microorganisms to survive and grow in the presence of antimicrobials) threatens our ability to manage the risks to health posed by microorganisms that cause infections. Until recently, research into the origins and spread of antimicrobial resistance has focused on the role of clinical settings and on microorganisms that cause infection. However, research is beginning to shed light on the important role that non-human, and particularly natural environments, play in the emergence, dissemination and transmission of resistance. This talk will describe recent and ongoing interdisciplinary research to understand the spread of microorganisms, particularly of antibiotic resistant bacteria, in aquatic environments associated with coastal bathing waters.

Click here to view the full video of the talk.


Prof Stuart Townley, Professor in Applied Mathematics, is our Featured Academic for February 2021!

Click here to view his profile page.


Here are some of the publications by Stuart:

Parfett, A., Townley, S. & Allerfeldt, K. AI-based healthcare: a new dawn or apartheid revisited?AI & Soc (2020).

Modeling and analysis of COVID-19 epidemics with treatment in fractional derivatives using real data from Pakistan. PA Naik, M Yavuz, S Qureshi, J Zu, S TownleyThe European Physical Journal Plus 135 (10), 1-42

Wave energy converter control by wave prediction and dynamic programming. G Li, G Weiss, M Mueller, S Townley, MR Belmont. Renewable Energy 48, 392-403

A framework for studying transient dynamics of population projection matrix models. I Stott, S Townley, DJ Hodgson. Ecology Letters 14 (9), 959-970

Identifying on admission patients likely to develop acute kidney injury in hospital. A Argyropoulos, S Townley, PM Upton, S Dickinson, AS Pollard. BMC nephrology 20 (1), 1-11


Stuart Townley has been very involved in our annual ESI Environment & Sustainability Day, organising workshops for Year 9 and 10 students. This is the cornerstone of our engagement with schools, organised in collaboration with the University’s widening participation team. Stuart and Markus Mueller produced a board game "Ocean Struggle: People, plastics and wildlife" for one of the workshops which got funded to be developed. It works on the probabilities of plastics in marine currents coming into contact with and causing damage to marine wildlife.


Our Featured ESI Academic of the month is not only an academic, he is also an artist! He participated in the ESI Creative Exchange programme in 2019.  View his exhibition “Stuart Townley - The Mathematician and the Artist”.


Stuart Townley delivered the #esiStateOfTheArt talk “Mathematics - a language of collaboration” on Monday 22 February 2021 1 – 2pm. ‌

View the event details here.

My talk is in two parts. In the first part, I will draw on my collaborations over the last decade - since joining the ESI - to illustrate how mathematics can be used to connect disciplines, distil the key essence of a problem, or to explore an idea.This will span applications of mathematics in ecology, renewable energy and healthcare.

In the second part, I will discuss in more detail a recent and on-going collaboration between maths and arts & humanities, specifically work with Alice Parfett and Kris Allerfeldt in History. Here, we explore issues of privacy, and especially emergent prejudice, in AI systems. Using simple toy models of disease networks, we show that prejudice can emerge due to feedbacks between data collection (e.g. key health stats) and being "led by the data" in making decisions (e.g. who to vaccinate). I will draw parallels with emergence of prejudice in social systems. I will conclude with a discussion of similar issues for AI in other parts of society.

Click here to view the full video of the talk.

Dr Karen Anderson, Associate Professor in Remote Sensing, is our Featured Academic for March 2021!

Click here to view her profile page.


Here are some of the publications by Karen:

Read her recent paper “Drones provide spatial and volumetric data to deliver new insights into microclimate modelling” by James Duffy, Karen Anderson, Dominic Fawcett, Robin Curtis and Ilya Maclean in Landscape Ecology.

The WWF report on 'drones for conservation' was a collaborative piece written by Karen Anderson, James Duffy, Leon DeBell and co-authors from WWF.  It's a free online textbook guide for anyone in conservation science who wants to learn about the hows/whys/wheres of using a drone 'in the wild'. 

Karen's research which showed that plant life is expanding in the area around Mount Everest was featured in The GuardianBBC News, and CNN.  Even Leonardo DiCaprio tweeted about it!  The paper, published in the journal Global Change Biology, is entitled: “Vegetation expansion in the subnival Hindu Kush Himalaya.” Karen Anderson and Dominic Fawcett are the first authors.

Carless, D., Luscombe, D. J., Gatis, N., Anderson, K., & Brazier, R. E. (2019). Mapping landscape-scale peatland degradation using airborne lidar and multispectral dataLandscape Ecology34(6), 1329-1345.

Hancock, S., Anderson, K., Disney, M., & Gaston, K. J. (2017). Measurement of fine-spatial-resolution 3D vegetation structure with airborne waveform lidar: Calibration and validation with voxelised terrestrial lidar. Remote Sensing of Environment188, 37-50.

Anderson, K., Hancock, S., Disney, M., & Gaston, K. J. (2016). Is waveform worth it? A comparison of Li DAR approaches for vegetation and landscape characterizationRemote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation2(1), 5-15.

Garrett, B., & Anderson, K. (2018). Drone methodologies: Taking flight in human and physical geography. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers43(3), 341-359.

Anderson, K., Westoby, M. J., & James, M. R. (2019). Low-budget topographic surveying comes of age: Structure from motion photogrammetry in geography and the geosciencesProgress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment. 2019;43(2):163-173.

Joyce KE, Anderson K, Bartolo RE. Of Course We Fly Unmanned—We’re Women! Drones. 2021; 5(1):21. 

Ellis, N., Anderson, K., & Brazier, R. (2021). Mainstreaming natural flood management: A proposed research framework derived from a critical evaluation of current knowledge. Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment, 0309133321997299.

Cunliffe, A. M., McIntire, C. D., Boschetti, F., Sauer, K. J., Litvak, M., Anderson, K., & Brazier, R. E. (2020). Allometric relationships for predicting aboveground biomass and sapwood area of oneseed Juniper (Juniperus monosperma) treesFrontiers in plant science11, 94.


Karen Anderson delivered the #esiStateOfTheArt talk “From leaf to landscape - state-of-the-art remote sensing for monitoring ecosystem dynamics” on Monday 29 March 2021 1 – 2pm. ‌

View the event details here.

Remote sensing is the science of measuring the dynamics of Earth systems using sensors onboard platforms such as satellites, airplanes or drones. In her research, Karen uses data spanning all such scales to query and quantify dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems, with a particular focus on eco-hydrology (the interactions between plants and the water cycle) and carbon-cycle related processes. She works predominantly in low biomass systems such as drylands and mountain ecosystems where plants can exert profound impacts on carbon/water processes.

In her 'state of the art' talk, Karen will use examples from her own research to provide examples of new approaches in remote sensing in action. The talk will start at low altitude, exploring applications for drone technology in improving biomass estimates in short-stature ecosystems via digital photogrammetry; then will move to higher elevations where examples of airborne laser scanning will be explained, and finally - to space and innovations in the remote sensing 'cloud' where big data questions about vegetation dynamics across huge ecosystems (in this case, the Himalaya) can be addressed.

Click here to view the full video of the talk.

Dr Senthil Sundaram, Senior Lecturer in Renewable Energy, is our Featured Academic for May 2021!

Click here to view his profile page.

Roy, A., Sundaram, S., & Mallick, T. (2021). Effect of dye sensitization’s temperature on ZnO-based solar cellsChemical Physics Letters (in press)

Velusamy, S., Roy, A., Sundaram, S., & Mallick, T. K. A Review on Heavy Metal Ions and Containing Dyes Removal Through Graphene Oxide-Based Adsorption Strategies for Textile Wastewater TreatmentThe Chemical Record.

Bhandari, S., Roy, A., Ghosh, A., Mallick, T. K., & Sundaram, S. (2020). Perceiving the temperature coefficients of carbon-based perovskite solar cellsSustainable Energy & Fuels, 4(12), 6283-6298.

Khalid, M.; Roy, A.; Bhandari, S.; Sundaram, S.; Mallick, T.K. Integrating Concentrated Optics for Ambient Perovskite Solar CellsEnergies 2021, 14, 2714. 

Roy, A., Ghosh, A., Benson, D., Mallick, T. K., & Sundaram, S. (2020). Emplacement of screen-printed graphene oxide coating for building thermal comfort discernmentScientific reports, 10(1), 1-13.

Khalid, M.; Roy, A.; Bhandari, S.; Sundaram, S.; Mallick, T.K. Integrating Concentrated Optics for Ambient Perovskite Solar CellsEnergies 2021, 14, 2714. 

The contributory book chapter titled "Concern for Heavy Metal-ion Water Pollution: Their Strategic Detection and Removal Opportunities" by Sasisreka Velusamy, Anurag Roy, Senthilarasu Sundaram and Tapas K. Mallick was recently accepted in Legacy, Pathogenic and Emerging Contaminants in the Environment published by CRC Press, Taylor, and Francis. (In Press)


Dr Senthil Sundaram delivered the #esiStateOfTheArt talk “Finding a holy grail material to fix the world's Energy Needs” on Monday 24 May 2021 1 – 2pm. ‌

View the event details here.

The energy needs of society are increasing day by day. Making energy generation sustainable and carbon-free is challenging. My research is focusing on finding suitable materials to address green energy generation and storage. Mainly address the stability of the most efficient solar cells for energy conversion, having high-density thermal storage materials and materials for environmental applications. The perovskite solar cells with high conversion efficiency and its scaling up engineering of the devices into the commercial level, using carbon materials for water distillation and heavy metal pollution removal and addressing industrial wastage heat management is also part of our group research.

Click here to view the full video of the talk.

Prof Edze Westra, Professor/ NERC Independent Research Fellow, was our Featured Academic for July 2021!

Click here to view his profile page.

Some of his key publications:

Rollie, C., Chevallereau, A., Watson, B.N.J. et al. Targeting of temperate phages drives loss of type I CRISPR–Cas systemsNature 578, 149–153 (2020).

Westra, E. R., van Houte, S., Oyesiku-Blakemore, S., Makin, B., Broniewski, J. M., Best, A., ... & Buckling, A. (2015). Parasite exposure drives selective evolution of constitutive versus inducible defenseCurrent biology25(8), 1043-1049.

van Houte, S., Ekroth, A. K., Broniewski, J. M., Chabas, H., Ashby, B., Bondy-Denomy, J., ... & Westra, E. R. (2016). The diversity-generating benefits of a prokaryotic adaptive immune systemNature532(7599), 385-388.

Landsberger, M., Gandon, S., Meaden, S., Rollie, C., Chevallereau, A., Chabas, H., ... & van Houte, S. (2018). Anti-CRISPR phages cooperate to overcome CRISPR-Cas immunityCell174(4), 908-916.

Alseth, E. O., Pursey, E., Luján, A. M., McLeod, I., Rollie, C., & Westra, E. R. (2019). Bacterial biodiversity drives the evolution of CRISPR-based phage resistanceNature574(7779), 549-552.

Prof Edze Westra is a Finalist for the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists 2021 in the Life Sciences category.
He was also a finalist last year.

View the 'Meet the 2020 Blavatnik Awards UK Life Sciences Honorees' video.

Other awards:

Edze Westra was a Philip Leverhulme Prize winner in Biological Sciences in 2020.

In the same year, he was also the Fleming Prize winner!

In 2016, he received the Heineken Young Investigator Award by the Dutch Royal Society for Science.

Prof Edze Westra was one of the speakers at the 3 day University of Exeter Microbiology Symposium in February 2021.
View his talk.


Prof Westra delivered the #esiStateOfTheArt talk “Viruses of microbes - key players in anything from ecosystem functioning to human health and disease” on Monday 5 July 2021 1 – 2pm. ‌

View the event details here.

Bacterial viruses (phages) shape the composition and evolution of microbial communities in nature and therefore play important roles in ecosystem functioning. This view stems from the 1990-2000s which revealed high viral abundance, diversity and virus-induced mortality in aquatic ecosystems as well as an association between collapses in bacterial density and peaks in phage abundance. The recent surge in metagenomics analyses has provided deeper insight into the abundance, genomic diversity and spatiotemporal dynamics of phages in a wide variety of ecosystems, ranging from deep oceans to soil and the mammalian digestive tract. However, the causes and consequences of variations in phage community compositions remain poorly understood. I will discuss our current knowledge on the composition and evolution of phage communities, as well as their roles in controlling the population and evolutionary dynamics of microbial communities in natural ecosystems and the human microbiome..

Click here to view the full video of the talk.