After graduating from the University of Worcester in 2012 with a first class BSc (Joint Honours degree) in Ecology & Environmental Management, Will spent 6 months at Cranfield University involved in a project to develop a calibration model for measuring phosphorus in UK soil using visible and near infrared spectroscopy (funded by the Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA)), before being awarded a scholarship to study for a PhD at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, jointly supervised with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), entitled: ‘identifying key environmental factors affecting primary productivity and ecosystem services in the uplands’.
“This particular PhD appealed because it offered the opportunity to investigate the impact of agriculture on ecosystems and the environment within an area of intensive and often environmentally harmful agricultural practice. In addition, I now get to spend three years conducting field research in the Welsh mountains which is perfect!”
“My research will focus specifically on the effects of nitrogen enrichment from both atmospheric deposition and livestock grazing pressure on upland ecosystems; particularly peatland. Blanket peat is perhaps the most important terrestrial carbon sink, so understanding the impact of nitrogen enrichment on this ecosystem, and consequently its carbon status, is of major importance.”
The emphasis on practical skills and fieldwork endemic to the Institute of Science and the Environment at the University of Worcester was key to Will’s success.
“There was significant competition for this opportunity so I was very lucky to win the funding and a place on the project. The experience and practical skills gained at Worcester, particularly with regard to lab based soil analysis and research project design, certainly helped me to succeed. Additionally, the faculty at Worcester were a great source of inspiration throughout my degree. I am very grateful for all the help and support I received as an undergraduate.”
After completing his doctorate, Will hopes to remain within research and perhaps one day, may even consider a lecturing role at an institution such as the University of Worcester.