The Team

A driving aim of the Lancaster Environment Centre’s research is to assemble and optimize cross-disciplinary research teams.

Principle Investigators

Prof Kirk T. Semple

Professor of Environmental Microbiology, Lancaster University

I am an environmental microbiologist with over 20 years of research experience in the fields of organic contaminant-biota interactions in soils, availability of contaminants in soil, availability of contaminant residues in soils, and risk assessment and bioremediation of contaminated land and, most recently, the use of anaerobic digestion for energy generation in wastewater treatment and the use of resulting by-products as soil amendments. I am also an Adjunct Professor, in the Division of Information Technology, Engineering and Environment at the University of South Australia.

I manage an active research group, having supervised 38 PhD students, and have published over 170 articles in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and international conferences; my current H index is 38. In addition, I have been on the editorial boards of several journals: Journal of Applied; Soil Ecology; Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry; Soil Biology and Biochemistry; Journal of Soil and Sediment, Soil & Sediment Contamination; Journal of Applied Microbiology; and Letters in Applied Microbiology and is currently the Co-editor in Chief for Environmental Technology and Innovation.

Dr. Ben Herbert

Director of Research & Environment, Stopford Energy & Environment

As Director of Research and Environment, my role centres on the development and delivery of research, consulting and training projects for Stopford across the green technology and environmental sectors globally. I am an Honorary Research Fellow at Lancaster University, an active member of energy and environment advisory groups and co-supervises a number of industry led postgraduate research projects.

Project Team

Dr. Alfonso Lag Brotons

Senior Research Associate

The thematic fields in which I am interested are soil protection, waste management and bio-energy production, being these aspects oriented towards the achievement of sustainable agro-systems. My previous research focused on the effect of sewage sludge compost applications on Mediterranean agro-systems in marginal lands, with the aim of protecting soil while increasing energy crops growth. Currently, I am participating in a NERC RRfW project funded research to develop sustainable fertilisers from bio-energy waste streams (anaerobic digestate and ash). This project represents an outstanding opportunity to continue with my research line on soil-plant system as affected by organic amendments, especially concerning nutritional interactions.

Dr. Rachel Marshall

Research Technician

My research specialises in biogeochemistry in plant-soil systems including both natural and agricultural ecosystems. My past work has particularly focused on biological and chemical controls of microbial activity, nutrient cycling and greenhouse gas emissions from soils. I am based at Lancaster University working directly on our NERC funded Resource Recovery from Waste project. For me this project is an exciting opportunity to combine soil biogeochemistry and plant science approaches, with the aim of providing whole system view of how waste materials can be used in agriculture.

Lois Hurst  BSc MRes MCIWM

Senior Research Consultant, Stopford Energy & Environment

My work focuses on waste recovery processes, and incorporates characterisation, evaluation and development of treatment processes, and early stage feasibility studies for waste treatment technologies. I have project experience working with various waste streams including municipal solid waste and commercial waste, through to niche wastes such as paint sludge, sewage screenings, and energy conversion by-products. My background is in Environmental Sciences. I am dividing my time between this Resource Recovery from Waste project, and other consulting activities.

Academic Collaborators 

Lancaster University

Prof. Nick Ostle (Professor of Ecology and Biogeochemistry)

Dr. Ben Surridge (Hydrology and Biogeochemistry)

Prof Phil Haygarth (Professor of Soil and Water Science)

Prof John Quinton (Professor of Soil Science)

Dr. Ian Dodd (Reader of Plant Physiology)

Dr. Farid Aiouache (Process Engineer)

Core Industrial Partners

Stopford Energy and Environment

Dr. Ben Herbert

Lois Hurst

James Hutton Institute

Dr. Marc Stutter

Aqua Enviro

Paul Lavendar


Contact Us

To be kept up-to-date with project developments with a monthly newsletter, or to enquire about potential collaborative opportunities, please contact Dr. Ben Herbert on 01524 510604.