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Research Statement

My research profile demonstrates a highly collaborative record of international research contributions and publication of research outputs from successful RCUK, EU and US Ireland funding. I have a consistent sustained record of more than 150 peer reviewed international publications and contributions which have had a strategic impact on the research agenda in mathematical geoscience in physical geography. International recognition for my research includes invited Hong Kong RAE2020 Research Impact advisor for University of Hong Kong Department of Earth Sciences and successfully hosting the International Conference for Geostatistical Applications to the Environment (geoENV2018) in Belfast. 

My active leadership roles within influential, high profile national bodies and international associations include:

 •            Executive Council Member of International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) (2020-24) https://www.iugs.org/  One of the world’s largest scientific organizations with 121 national members, representing over a million geoscientists.

•             President of the International Association of Mathematical Geoscientists (IAMG) (2016- 2020) Past President IAMG (2020-2024) http://www.iamg.org/.

•             Founding Partner and Vice President of the Governing Council of Deep-time Digital Earth (DDE) Initiative, the first IUGS-recognized big science programme. https://www.iugs.org/dde.

My grant income as PI and CoI on successful grants totals > £5M including the NERC funded QUATRAT DTP (£2.6M to QUB), securing 100 PhD scholarships over 5 years and prestigious recognition for Queens as host of a NERC DTP. As PI my grant income amounts to > £3M.To date I have supervised 32 PhD students (23 successfully graduated) and 10 postdoctoral Fellows, Research Assistants (as both PI and CI) including UKRI, EU and US Ireland funded postdoctoral fellows and Chinese Scholarship Council funded research fellows.

My interdisciplinary research has demonstrated impact in three key areas:

1.           Environmental Geochemistry and Compositional Data Analysis

Research projects in this area engage with a multidisciplinary team from geography, geoscience, mathematics, statistics, engineering and health. This research has brought together world-leading expertise in the areas of mathematical geoscience, geoscience, geochemistry and compositional data analysis to advance the field of compositional data analysis research and stimulate debate to acknowledge and deal with the inherently multivariate nature of compositional data including soil and water geochemistry. From this work, I developed and facilitated an MOU (2018, renewed 2021) between Chinese Academy of Geoscience UNESCO International Centre on Global-Scale Geochemistry and QUB. The research has encouraged a paradigm shift in the use of geochemical data in the fields of mineral and energy exploration, agriculture and ecology, resilient communities, medical geology, subsurface modelling, engineering and environmental management.

2.           Exploring the effects of environmental factors on Chronic Kidney Disease

This research examines possible links between soil elements, deprivation and chronic kidney disease (CKD) data from the UK Renal Registry including Chronic Kidney Disease of uncertain aetiology (CKDu) to investigate the impact of environmental toxins including air pollution data on human health. The research uses data from the UK Renal Registry including CKD of uncertain aetiology (CKDu), which have not previously been studied for UKRR data to investigate environmental factors. Although CKDu is a global problem, recognised by WHO, this is the first study to use the UK renal registry data to investigate CKDu in the UK and arguably the first to examine the relationship between CKDu, CKD and urbanisation globally. The findings from this work are important to gain a greater understanding of the link between human health and environmental toxins from anthropogenic sources including air pollution.

The research was highlighted in the BGS GSNI 70th Anniversary Science Review (2017) and a number of public policy implications for regional human health risk assessments, public health policy and education have arisen from this work. My professional contribution to the Northern Ireland Assembly All-Party Group on Science and Technology provided an interface between science, commerce and policy, assisting politicians to make strategic policy decisions. As part of interdisciplinary collaboration to make research accessible and understood by the public, I was pleased to enage with politicians through the Politics Plus MLA scientist pairing scheme Stormont Building and the RIA Scientist and Oireachtas Member Pairing Scheme.

3.           Forensic geoscience and Spatial Data Analysis

My role within the Initiative on Forensic Geology (IFG) has increased awareness and training in the use of GI Science and geoinformatics in forensic geoscience at knowledge transfer events in collaboration with UK, European Forensic Science Regulators and law enforcement agencies worldwide. I have collaborated in facilitating GI Science training workshops with the Australian Federal Police, Brazilian Federal police, Netherlands Police Agency, Russian Federal Centre of Forensic Science, Japan Criminal Investigation Bureau, 3rd Iberoamerican Workshop on Forensic Geosciences in Argentina and most recently working to develop a workshop with the National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science in India.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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