Professor Julia Martin-Ortega (University of Leeds)

I’m a Professor of Ecological Economics at the Sustainability Research Institute specializing in making links between the biophysical processes in water environments and their socio-economic impacts.

Originally from Spain, I started my academic career about 12 years ago, and have been at Leeds University since July 2015. Before that I was in Scotland and I’ve recently produced an influential report for Scottish National Heritage looking at how the public values peatland. I’m passionate about all aspects of research and teaching, from the generation of knowledge to engaging with stakeholders who might benefit from that knowledge.


Professor Andrew Baird (University of Leeds)

I’m principally an ‘ecohydrologist’ interested in how peatlands function. My work involves understanding: how water moves through peat soils, the factors that affect the composition of peatland vegetation (which plants grow where and why?), how much carbon from the atmosphere is ‘locked up’ by peatlands through plant growth and the formation of new peat, and how much carbon is returned to the atmosphere through the decay of old peat.

I have expertise in measuring transfers of water through peat soils, in measuring the exchange of carbon dioxide and methane between peatlands and the atmosphere, and in using computers to simulate these processes mathematically. An example of my work is the ecosystem model called DigiBog. This is a computer simulator of how peatlands form and develop over timescales of decades to millennia. It can be used to investigate how management activities like ditch creation and blocking affect peatlands.

I’ve worked on many projects for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Defra, and conservation bodies like Natural England and Natural Resources Wales. I’ve managed large projects such as a £1.1 M Defra programme on the effect of grip (ditch) blocking on methane release from blanket peatlands to the atmosphere.


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