Researcher Profiles

Academic Profiles:
Balzter, Professor Heiko
Davies, Susan
Dexter, Dr Kyle
Gardiner, Professor Barry
Locatelli, Dr Tommaso
Lynch, Professor Jim
McMorrow, Julia
Meir, Professor Patrick
Mitchard, Dr Edward
Moffat, Professor Andy
Nicoll, Dr Bruce
Patenaude, Dr Genevieve
Pennington, Prof. Toby
Petr, Dr Michal
Ray, Duncan
Smith, Dr Thomas
Suárez-Minguez, Professor Juan
Wooster, Professor Martin

Balzter,  Professor Heiko
Professor of Physical Geography, Director of the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research, University of Leicester
Telephone: 0116 252 3820
Full profile: click here

Prof. Balzter’s research focuses on satellite remote sensing of environmental change as a consequence of climate change and anthropogenic factors for the purposes of monitoring and forecasting. He is Holder of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award and the Royal Geographical Society’s Cuthbert Peek Award. In addition to his academic work, he is a member of the editorial board of the MDPI journal “Remote Sensing” and since 2009 has served on the European Space Sciences Committee, which investigates and presents the views of the space research community and participates in several advisory committees of the European Space Agency.  He is on the AATSR Science Advisory Group, and has provided scientific advice to the Eliasch review on “Climate Change: Financing Global Forests”. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, a member of the American Geophysical Union, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and member of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society as well as the Chartered Management Institute.

Davies, Susan. BA Cantab, MSc Oxon
NERC PURE Associate, University of Edinburgh
Telephone: 0796 802 8445

As a NERC-sponsored PURE Associate Susan works with the Forestry Commission, Forest Research and ForestRe (an insurance organisation) on developing pest and disease, and drought assessments for woodland carbon and insurance purposes. She also operates the Forest Finance Risk Network linking the wider UK academic sector working on natural disturbance risks with the forest finance sector. She works on these issues as a full-time member of staff but is also completing a related PhD part-time looking at issues in determining how much carbon to set aside against future losses for forest carbon projects. Prior to joining Edinburgh, Susan spent 12 years in the City including 7 years in risk management in banking. She completed a Masters at Oxford in Environmental Change & Management including a special option on forestry. She now focuses on applying her risk expertise to the challenges of assessing natural disturbance risk to forests, from disturbances such as wind, fire, drought and pest and diseases, in a form that is of use to the finance sector including investors, insurers, forest managers and carbon standards.

Dexter, Dr Kyle. 
Lecturer in Terrestrial Vegetation Ecology, University of Edinburgh
Telephone: +44 (0) 131 651 7065
Full profile: click here

Kyle Dexter is a tropical ecologist with broad interests in understanding tropical forests. Much of his research focuses on quantifying the niche of tropical tree species, i.e. figuring out in which environments individual species can survive and reproduce, and then exploring how these niches changed in the past via evolution. The motivation for this work is the idea that understanding past patterns of adaptation to new environments will give insights into how tropical tree species, and forests, will respond to future environmental change.

Gardiner, Professor Barry. BSc, Phd, FRMetS
Senior Scientist, INRA-Bordeaux; Emeritus Silviculturist, Forest Research
Telephone: +33 5571 22424; Mobile (France): +33 6451 10395; Mobile (UK): +44 (0)7810 180150
Full profile: click here

Barry began his career at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada where early work included investigating winter storm systems in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. He joined the Forestry Commission in 1987 where research interests included the investigation of wind damage to trees and airflow in complex terrain; the microclimatology of agroforests and shelterbelts; and the development of turbulence over forest edges and the adaptive growth of trees in response to the wind. This work led to the development of the wind model ForestGALES, which predicts the risk of wind damage for forests in complex terrain. He was also involved in the development of models measuring and predicting the timber quality of coniferous trees in Britain including the effects of climate change and silvicultural practice. Since 2011, he has worked at INRA-Bordeaux on a programme to develop landscape level methods for minimising wind damage risk to forests in collaboration with Forest Research and CSIRO, Australia. He continues to be actively involved in the development of ForestGALES. In particular he is working  with other colleagues to extend the model to cover alternative silvicultural systems and to adapt the system for use in other parts of the world (Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Sweden, USA and France).

Locatelli, Tommaso
Post Doc Research Assistant, University of Edinburgh.
Email:; Telephone: +44 (0)756 522 4947

Locatelli works with Forest Research to develop their wind model: ForestGALES. His PhD focused on parameterising Eucalyptus globulus for ForestGALES and conducting a variance-based sensitivity analysis of the model to identify the most sensitive parameters. He is now working with Davies to develop wind risk default tables for the UK derived from ForestGALES for use by forest managers and the Woodland Carbon Code. He is also involved in the Operas network.

Lynch, Professor Jim. OBE
Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences (Emeritus), Surrey University, BTech, PhD, DSc, CSci, CChem, FRSC, CBiol, FRSB, FIBiotech
Email:, Telephone: Work: +44 (0)1903 785534/ +44 (0)779 527 6165/ +44 (0)797 687 0731.

Academic experience: Prof. Lynch has held positions at a number of universities around the world including Washington State and Oregon State, and in the UK, at the Universities of Oxford, Reading, Imperial College and King’s College London. He is a distinguished microbiologist and received the UNESCO Microbiology Prize in 1993 for his outstanding contribution to soil microbiology. His main research interest is the microorganisms inhabiting the rhizosphere (zone surrounding plant roots), including the biological control of plant pests and diseases. Along with the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, he carried out the first release of a genetically modified microorganism in the UK at Wytham Wood, Oxford and HRI Littlehampton. This provided a comprehensive analysis of risk to the environment and health.
Private and Public sector experience: includes 10 years as Head of Microbiology and Crop Protection at Horticulture Research International; 4 years as Chief Executive of Forest Research (the Research Agency of the Forestry Commission); 6 years on the Board of the European Forest Institute; and 2 years as Director of Forestry at DMCii (DMC International Imaging), the earth observation and remote sensing solutions provider of Surrey Satellite Technologies (part of Airbus Defence). He was awarded an OBE in 2007 for coordinating the OECD Sustainability Research Programme for over 17 years. He has also been involved in developing sustainable community forest projects in Africa, in part as a Director of the Council for Frontiers of Knowledge, based Makere University in Uganda. He has consulted widely for industry and the UK and overseas Governments, and is familiar with the commercial sector including forest insurance and investment. Full profile: click here

McMorrow, Julia
Senior Lecturer in Remote Sensing, NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow, University of Manchester.
Email:, Telephone: 0161 275 3649

Julia is an expert on mapping spatial and temporal wildfire risk in the UK using the Fire Service Incident Recording System (IRS) and satellite data (MODIS, Landsat, airborne hyperspectral, SAR), and on managing the environmental impacts of peatland fires. She is a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow and runs the associated Knowledge for Wildfire project, which aims to improve the management of UK wildfire through knowledge exchange between academia, the fire service, land managers and policy-makers. She is a member of the England and Wales Wildfire Forum and other national stakeholder forums on vegetation fire. She has also worked on remote sensing and GIS analysis of land cover change in tropical forests including disturbances by fire, logging and agriculture.
Full profile: click here

Meir, Professor Patrick
Professor of Ecosystem Science, University of Edinburgh
Email:; Telephone: +44 (0)131 650 2521

Prof. Meir’s research interests include ecosystem science; the carbon-water relationships of plants and ecosystems; biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships; the terrestrial carbon cycle; and tropical forests and climate change. He has particular expertise in  drought, mechanisms of mortality and the susceptibility of different tree species. He was Head of the School of Geosciences’ Centre for Environmental Change and Sustainability (CECS) Research Group 2011-2012, and holds a personal chair in Ecosystem Science at Edinburgh University, UK, and a professorial research fellowship at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Full profile: click here

Mitchard, Dr. Edward

Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Edinburgh
Email:; Telephone: +44 (0)131 650 7211/+44 (0)7850 861130
Full profile: click here

Dr. Mitchard leads a group working on developing and testing methods for using satellite data to map tropical forest ecosystems. His particular interest is in using optical, radar and lidar data to map woody cover and aboveground biomass in tropical forest and savanna landscapes. He also works on methods for detecting deforestation, forest degradation and woody encroachment, and has collected extensive field data to calibrate and validate satellite products. Mitchard’s group has also developed models for predicting and explaining rates of deforestation, and relating deforestation risk, fire and carbon stocks. Mitchard works closely with the governments of Cameroon and Gabon to assist them in developing their policies related to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), as well as with many NGO’s and companies working on these issues. This includes working with the European Space Agency using existing deforestation products to assess the success of UK Aid projects. He is a Principal Investigator on the Japanese Space Agency’s ALOS-2 satellite, and was involved in the successful bid for the European Space Agency’s planned BIOMASS satellite (to be launched in 2021). He is the Chair of the Technical Advisory Committee of Plan Vivo, a community-based carbon certification standard with projects around the world, and a non-executive director of Carbomap, a spin-out company from Edinburgh University developing new hardware and software for using LiDAR for forest mapping.

Moffat, Professor Andy. BSc, PhD, DSc, FRGS, FISoilSci, MICFor
Honorary Research Fellow, Forest Research
Email:; Telephone: 0300 067 5600; Mobile: 07971 562145

Prof. Moffat is an Honorary Research Fellow at Forest Research – the research arm of the UK Forestry Commission – having formerly been Head of Environmental Research, Environmental and Human Sciences Division and the Centre for Forestry and Climate Change from 1997 to 2013. His early research career focused on land reclamation and soil sustainability but his current research interests include wildfire risk, fire indices, behaviour and management systems. In 2005, he was awarded the DSc, and in 2007 he was granted the title of Visiting Professor in the School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Reading.
Full profile: click here

Nicoll, Dr Bruce
Programme Manager, Assessing Resilience, Forest Research.
Email:; Telephone: +44 (0)300 067 5287
Full profile: click here

Bruce Nicoll joined Forest Research in 1987. Bruce’s research has focused on the development of tree roots in relation to tree wind stability and slope stability (erosion and landslides), and the provision of wind risk guidance and tools for the forest industry. He leads work on climate change adaptation of forests, and manages a research programme on assessing the resilience and sustainability of urban trees, woodlands and forests . He is the primary contact for ForestGALES, Forest Research’s decision support tool to assess and manage wind risk to commercial forest stands.

Patenaude, Dr Genevieve
(Currently on maternity leave until 2017 but with periodic access to email. Please contact Susan Davies with any questions in relation to forest risks in the interim).
Lecturer, University of Edinburgh
Full profile: click here

Dr Patenaude’s key research interests include forest loss risks; carbon management; poverty alleviation in forest environments; REDD+; Forest finance; Kyoto/Post-Kyoto climate change negotiations; ecosystem services and knowledge exchange.  Her current work includes leading the NERC-funded network on forest and finance risks as well as a NERC-DFID-ESRC funded research project on Forest Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation. She is also involved in the development of a mission concept for a Spaceborne Multispectral Lidar (NERC NCEO), and was a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports (Good Practice Guidance for Land Use Change and Forestry). In 2008 she took a career break: obtaining an MBA (HEC Mtl, with distinction) and providing strategic expertise to McKinsey & Company. She was involved in setting up Ecometrica Ltd. a company focusing on greenhouse gas accounting and ecosystem services; and co-founded cArbomap Ltd., which develops new technologies for measuring and mapping forest carbon (a key development being a multispectral canopy lidar optimised for forest applications).

Pennington, Prof. Toby
Head of Tropical Biodiversity, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Email:, Tel: +44 (0)131 248 2818
Full profile: click here

Prof. Pennington’s research has aimed to address one of the fundamental questions of tropical biology – how and when did the huge species numbers in the tropics arise? It is grounded in fundamental, descriptive taxonomic, inventory and phylogenetic research, which provides the foundation to address evolutionary and biogeographic questions. It has a particular focus on tropical dry forests and savannas.

Petr, Dr Michal.  Bsc, MSc, PhD
Climate Change Researcher, Forest Research
Email:, Tel direct: +44 (0)300 067 5974

Michal joined Forest Research in 2007. He completed his PhD studies at Twente University, in the Netherlands in 2014. His research interests include understanding uncertainty related to climate change; effects of uncertainty on forest planning and decision making in relation to adaptation; and the assessment of drought risk to British forests. He has developed drought risk assessments of the risk to Sitka Spruce, Scots Pine, and pedunculate oak forests in Britain using probabilistic UKCP09 climate change projections and the Ecological Site Classification model. Recent work also includes development and application of action expiration charts combining information about key forest ecosystem services (production, yield, carbon and tourism) under climate change for the National Forest Estate. He is also involved in ESCom (An Ecosystem Service Community for Scotland) as a working group leader; European Cost Action PROFOUND as part of a working group addressing “Uncertainties in climate change impact modelling and implications for sustainable forest management”; European Cost Action NNEXT (Non-native Tree Species for European Forests: Experiences, Risks and Opportunities) working on the biotic and abiotic risks from and to non-native tree species in Europe; and is a member of the International Association of Landscape Ecology.
Full profile: click here

Ray, Duncan

Programme Group Manager, Land Use & Ecosystem Services (LUES), Forest Research
Email:; Telephone: +44 (0)300 067 5977

Duncan’s career began at Stirling University researching rainfall interception. He joined Forest Research in 1982 to research the effects of ground preparation on soil water regimes, and is an expert on drought and species selection. He worked on the development of Ecological Site Classification and produced the Ecological Site Classification (ESC) Decision Support System in 2001. Since 2008 Duncan has led the science programme group LUES concerned with decision support, landscape ecology and ecosystem service. The programme includes Forest Research, the Forestry Commission and Universities in the UK, Europe and further afield. Duncan focuses on developing models and planning tools to help forest planners and managers increase the adaptive capacity of UK forests to climate change. He is also involved in European Cost Action projects: Expected climate change and options for EU silviculture (ECHOES) and Forest Management Decision Support Systems (FORSYS). ECHOES is working to integrate the existing scientific knowledge for European forest policymakers and managers who make decisions on adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. For the FORSYS project, Duncan leads the Working Group on Methods and Model development for decision support tools. He is also the co-ordinator of the IUFRO Working Group: Information Management and Information Technology.
Full profile: click here

Smith, Dr Thomas
Lecturer in Physical & Environmental Geography, King’s College, London
Email:; Telephone: +44 (0) 207 848 2525

Dr Smith investigates novel techniques for measuring biomass burning emissions. He evaluates their methodologies and applies them to studying emissions from fires in Canada, Australian savanna, UK moorland ecosystems, and the tropical peatlands of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Dr Smith has also run a NERC sponsored Knowledge Exchange project to work closely with the Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service and other Fire & Rescue Services in the UK to incorporate the use of airborne remote sensing and fire spread modelling in wildfire fire fighter training programmes. His work with Northumberland FRS has been used by numerous other FRS’s, including Durham & Darlington, Staffordshire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire, Northern Ireland, Lancashire, and Dorset FRS’s. Tom has spoken at the Chief Fire Officers’ Association and has presented at wildfire training courses in Denmark, Spain and the UK. He is also qualified in the tactical use of fire. Current work aims to extend this knowledge exchange activity to land management in UK National Parks.
Full profile: click here

Suárez-Minguez, Professor Juan
Project Leader Remote Sensing Applications Programme, Forest Research; Research Fellow at the Universities of Glamorgan, Swansea and Edinburgh; Visiting Professor at Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and University of Cordoba (Spain); Assistant Research Professor at the University of Maryland.
Email:; Telephone: +44 (0)300 067 5991

Juan Suárez is a remote sensing scientist, who has been at Forest Research for 21 years where he is Project Leader of the Remote Sensing Applications programme. His areas of expertise include: operational tools for forest management, LiDAR, Digital Aerial Photography, Hyperspectral sensors, Thermal imagery, Satellite Optical systems, GIS, abiotic hazards in forestry, forest modelling, monitoring forest health and forest condition. Main roles include the development of cost-effective capture of spatial data using Earth Observation and their integration into GIS-based forest management systems, identification of remote sensing technologies ready for business use and provision of recommendations on their operational use. He is also a member of various British and EU projects/networks linking universities and other research organisations across Europe to identify the latest remote sensing techniques and how to transfer them to the forest industry. Current research includes the development of a method for the early detection of stress in forest species provoked by pest and diseases. This project involves data assimilation techniques and the integration of thermal, hyperspectral and LiDAR sensors. Juan was also involved in the development of ForestGALES (see Wind section), the Ecological Site Classification Tool (see Drought section) and monitoring tree physiology (see Pest & Disease section). Previous experience includes working for a year (2011) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre on the US government-funded Carbon Monitoring System project; and working with the Chinese Academy of Forestry on the development of a method for estimating biomass and forest fuels using an integration of airborne sensors (LiDAR and hyperspectral), models and field data collection in the Yunnan province. In 2015 In November 2014, he was elected president of ForestSAT, international association of laboratories undertaking research on remote sensing and forestry.
Full profile: click here

Wooster, Professor Martin
Professor of Earth Observation Science, King’s College, London
Email:; Telephone: 0207 848 2577

Professor Wooster leads the Wildfire Research Team at King’s College London, which focuses on quantifying the magnitude and impact of fire on different regions and aspects of the Earth system. He is also a Divisional Director within NERC’s National Centre for Earth Observation. He has worked on the quantification and characterisation of landscape fires, both ‘wildfires’ and agricultural residue/land-clearance burns, since 1997-98 when an intense El Niño led to an extreme SE Asian drought and fire situation, which released globally significant quantities of greenhouse gases along with extreme amounts of air pollutants. He is expert on the quantification of fire activity through remote sensing, and in the characterisation of land and atmospheric impacts of landscape burning. His research uses satellite-, ground- and aircraft-based remote sensing approaches, and more recently also incorporates a variety of in situ sampling methods including via UAV’s “drones”. A significant part of this research focuses on two areas: (i) development and exploitation of satellite-based methods to provide information on the areas and fuel consumptions involved in landscape fires, and how this varies over timescales of hours to years, and (ii) the generation of so-called biomass burning ’emissions factors’ that when combined with fuel consumption measures provide an indication of the gaseous and aerosol emissions to the atmosphere. In terms of (i), Prof Wooster and his team were instrumental in pushing forward the Fire Radiative Power (FRP) approach for providing satellite-based fuel consumption estimates, including in real-time, and are responsible for three operational products generated in near-real time for this purpose, from the geostationary satellites Meteosat Second Generation and GOES-E/-W, and the polar orbiting satellite Sentinel-3 (via the SLSTR instrument), some of which are distrubuted by the Land Satellite Applications Facility (Land SAF). By combining the outputs of these efforts Wooster’s Group have contributed to the D-Fire Sub-Project of the EU FP7 project Monitoring Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate (MACC) project, which has developed a Global Fire Assimilation System (GFAS) to use these and other data to map daily variations in global fire emissions. This has led to the operational use of GFAS within the European Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) that aims to provide sub-daily monitoring of the global atmosphere (GHG’s, air pollutants, aerosols etc) and to forecast this to provide air quality early warnings some days ahead. By improving current local, regional and global estimates of carbon, trace gas and aerosol emissions to the atmosphere from burning, Professor Wooster’s research has contributed to the work of various agencies such as the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) who require methods to estimate carbon releases from forest fires, and is highly relevant to initiatives such as REDD+. He has also work with the UK Fire and Rescue Service. He holds investigatorships on a number of remote sensing missions, and was the recipient of the Daiwa-Adrian Award for Excellence in UK-Japan Collaborative Science and the Royal Geographical Societies Cuthbert Peak Award. New website on fire work: Link.
Full profile: click here



Edinburgh University