Meet some of the researchers behind N8 AgriFood in Manchester.
Prof Sarah Bridle
Sarah obtained her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2000 and was made Professor at The University of Manchester in 2013. Her work for the last 20 years has focussed on uncovering the nature of dark energy using gravitational lensing: the bending of light by dark matter. Motivated by the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, she has diversified her research interests to applying her cosmology experience to agriculture and food research. Sarah applies astronomy techniques to image analysis in agriculture and leads the STFC Food Network+. She is funded by N8 Agrifood to work on the Greenhouse gas and dietary choices open source toolkit (GDOT) project, which brings together food greenhouse gas emissions estimates and dietary surveys with the aim of understanding sustainable nutrition.
Dr Tim Foster
Tim is a Lecturer in Water-Food Security in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering. Tim’s research integrates crop and hydrologic models, Earth observation techniques, and economic analysis to evaluate farmers' decisions about land, water and energy use in crop production, and design policy solutions to support resilient agricultural water management and climate risk management. Tim has extensive expertise in the development of crop simulation models, notably as the lead developer of AquaCrop-OS: a free, open-source crop-water modelling tool.
Prof Simon Harper
Simon works to understand, predict and influence a user's behaviour in the digital and real worlds. This means identifying behaviours and using technology to enable interface adaptation, changes in behaviour, or disease progression monitoring. He applies this knowledge to the sensing and analysis of hive dynamics of honey bees in an attempt to understand indicators of change related to disease and colony collapse. Additionally, he applies insights gained from observing bee homeostasis, persistent disequilibrium and emergent behaviours found in supra-organisms into the coordinated action components of organismic computing (biomimetic approaches to augmenting group efficacy) into human well-being and mental health. To facilitate this work, he runs the BeeLife Research Apiary which serves as a university research platform for investigating bees / bee behaviour / and hive dynamics which is available to research scientists and engineers across Manchester (and in some cases, the N8).
Find out more about Simon
Giles is a plant physiologist interested in the impacts of environmental stress on plant growth. He is an expert in the measurement of photosynthesis, including the use of chlorophyll fluorescence as a probe of photosynthetic performance, and the use of other spectroscopic techniques in intact leaves, both in the lab and the field. In collaboration with other researchers, he is applying genomic, quantitative proteomic and metabolomic approaches, combined with systems modelling, to understand how plants respond to fluctuations in their environment on time scales ranging from seconds to months, characterising how regulatory mechanisms protect tolerant plants from stress and how they fail in stress-sensitive species.
Find out more about Giles
Dr Tom Mcnamara
Tom is a postdoctoral research associate working in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering under Professor Grieve. He has experience in both physical and software-based proof of concepts, having worked across many of the physical sciences and schools. His work is focused on the deployment of research into real agricultural use cases and why this final stage is often not realised. Understanding the end user requirements having grown up on a farm, he works to better quantify and optimise this lab to deployment transition so that more research can move forward from a proof of concept to helping agricultural workers in their activities.
Dr Vahid Niasar
Vahid specialises in modelling physical and chemical processes in soils, nutrient transport in subsurface environments and coupling physical and chemical processes. He has developed robust computational models that can predict water and nutrient (N,P) movements and (P, N) nutrient adsorption in soils at the micro-scale. Recently, he has initiated research to simulate physical and chemical processes in soils coupled with root systems and mycorrhiza networks. Vahid has active projects in top research groups in academia and industry across the world related to soil and crop science such as Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Wageningen University, Utrecht University, Princeton University, and Stuttgart University.
Find out more about Vahid
Mary is a research dietitian with 12 years' experience in working on diet and exercise interventions in relation to breast cancer and other lifestyle and weight-related diseases. She is based at The Nightingale Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital in South Manchester and has worked on many studies looking both at prevention of disease, and the impact of healthy living after diagnosis of breast cancer on future health outcomes. Mary has a particular interest in prevention of weight gain in younger populations to reduce their future burden of disease.
Find out more about Mary
Dr Laurence Stamford
Laurence is a Lecturer in Sustainable Chemical Engineering at The University of Manchester. He specialises in the development and use of sustainability assessment approaches including life cycle assessment, life cycle costing and social life cycle assessment. His main research areas are energy and food. He is a member of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Use in Food Chains and is carrying out research into the sustainability implications of alternative agricultural systems, powdered food products and insect-based foods, as well as the implications of dietary choices on environmental impacts. He has advised several policy-informing bodies (eg: Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Carbon Connect, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology) and his contacts include innovative food manufacturers, the convenience food sector, renewable food packaging and synthetic biology pioneers.
Dr Lu Shin Wong
Lu Shin’s expertise lie at the interface between biotechnology and nanotechnology, with an emphasis on chemical molecular methods and approaches. His work is underpinned by components of synthetic chemistry (for the synthesis of building blocks, linkers and enzyme substrates), molecular biology (to enable the genetic engineering of recombinant proteins) and surface chemistry (for the nanofabrication of devices). His laboratories are based at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, which have dedicated facilities for molecular biology and synthetic chemistry.
His interests in the agri-food sector are two-fold: the use of enzymes for food and waste processing; and nanotechnologies for sensing and diagnostics. He has a number of collaborations with the University of Malaya and Universiti Putra Malaysia that are focused on these areas.
Find out more about Lu Shin