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Personal profile


2023 - present: Senior lecturer in Plant Physiological Ecology, with the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

2019 - 2023: lecturer in Plant Physiological Ecology, with the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

2017 - 2018:   Postdoctoral research fellow of the Alexander-von Humboldt Foundation at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science in Umeå, Sweden. Advisor: Vaughan Hurry

2015 - 2017:       Lecturer/ Postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Plant Ecology and Systematics. University of Kaiserslautern, Germany. Advisor: Burkhard Büdel.

2015 PhD (Dr. rer. nat) University of Kaiserslautern. Biological soil crusts in continental Antarctica: their occurrence, performance and diversity

2010 Diploma (Biology) University of Kaiserslautern


Research Interests

My main themes are plant community classifications, eco-physiology, biochemistry and environmental measurements which, together with collaborative work looking at molecular and metabolic changes, will be combined to elucidate the mechanisms driving changes in polar ecosystems. 

Collaborative Activity

2023 - ongoing: Evidence-based conservation of biodiversity in the South Sandwich Islands (DEFRA, Darwin fund project in collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey)

2023 - ongoing: TundraTime: Plant phenology change as a driver of Arctic greening trends (NERC standard grant)

2021 - ongoing: The past, the present and the future of snowalgae in Antarctica (CO-I, NERC Standard grant, Matt Davey SAMS, Peter Convey BAS, Alison Smith Cambridge University)

2018 - present:  Resilience in Antarctic biota and ecosystems (Coordinators: Craig Cary, Charlie Lee, University of Waikato, New Zealand)

2017 – 2020: CRYPTOCOVER: Biocomplexity and functioning of the cryptogamic cover in arid and polar regions (Coordinator: Leopoldo Sancho, Universidad Complutense Spain)

2015 – 2017:      The POLARCRUST project: valuation of the biodiversity of eukaryotic green microalgae and cyanobacteria in biological soil crusts from the Antarctic Peninsula and Arctic Svalbard (Coordinator: Burkhard Büdel, University of Kaiserslautern, Ulf Karsten, University of Rostock, Burkhard Becker, University of Cologne, Germany)

2012 - 2015:       Soil Crusts International (SCIN): Understanding and valuing biological soil crusts: protection of disturbed and open land surfaces (Coordinator: Burkhard Büdel, University of Kaiserslautern, Germany, Allan Green, University of Waikato, New Zealand)

2009 - 2013:      NZtabs – New Zealand Terrestrial Antarctic Biocomplexity Survey (Coordinator: Allan Green, Craig Cary both University Waikato, New Zealand)



My research in a nutshell

Biological soil crusts, composed of several poikilohydric organisms (lichens, bryophytes, cyanobacteria, algae, bacteria and microfungi), are inconspicuous communities that are often dominant in habitats which are permanently or seasonally arid and where vascular plants are excluded or diminished by low water availability or low temperatures. Such habitats cover about 35% of the Earth`s land mass (accounting for the largest terrestrial biome, Peel et al. 2007) and these inconspicuous communities, have only recently been described to make a small but significant (equal to annual anthropogenic carbon input) contribution to global CO2 uptake. The habitats that are dominated by BSC, hot and cold deserts, drylands, badlands, polar regions are also suggested to be the first, and most severely affected, by predicted temperature increases (IPCC report, 2014). My long-term research goal is to assess the role and status of biological soil crusts and lichens in polar ecosystems and to evaluate pressures on them that occur with ongoing climate change and human impact. My research projects have encompassed the study of biological soil crusts and lichens from different Antarctic habitats as well as arctic tundra and open landscapes in temperate Europe. In particular, my studies of the gas exchange of lichens photosynthesis and respiration aim to reveal traits that permit cryptogams to exist in extreme terrestrial habitats and how these are affected by changes in the ecosystem


  • QP Physiology
  • QK Botany


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