Three new lecturers in sustainability have joined Lancaster Environment Centre with expertise covering carbon capture and geo-engineering, climate refugees and local food.

“Our expertise in sustainability now spans issues from the local level like food production and recycling to the bigger picture, examining whether we can be sustainable with 7 billion people on the planet,” said Professor Kevin Jones, head of the Lancaster Environment Centre.

The new arrivals are the first of five new social science appointments which will complement the department’s existing strengths in the natural sciences.  

“We believe that bringing in people from different background will spark interesting new ideas and collaborations. This is part of our commitment to strengthening our leadership in sustainability both in teaching and research,” Kevin said.

Local food

Dr Rebecca Whittle, who did her PhD and early research at Lancaster, will be working on sustainable agriculture and food security.

 “I’m really looking forward to working on new ways of getting people more involved with the food that they eat, such as projects which focus on community and guerrilla gardening as well as exciting ideas around edible landscaping,” said Rebecca.

“I’m especially keen to inspire students in this direction and am passionate about working on these ideas with farmers, stakeholders and the public – if ever there was a subject in which research needs to reach beyond universities then food is it!”

Technology for good and bad

Dr Nils Markusson trained as an engineer at the University of Lund. After working as a civil servant in Sweden, he moved to the UK. Recently he’s been working on innovation in carbon capture and geo-engineering at Oxford University.

“At Lancaster, I want to explore further the ways in which technology is implicated in creating both environmental problems and their solutions.  Recently I’ve become interested in the interactions and overlaps between the environmental and labour movements: how people within these two movements view technology differently and whether this is an issue when they try to collaborate,” Nils said.

“Much of my research has involved working with and alongside researchers in science, engineering, the humanities and other social sciences fields. Working at Lancaster seems to offer good opportunities for this kind of work, and I see many potential collaboration opportunities.”

The human face of climate change

Dr Giovanni Bettini has just completed a PhD on climate induced migration at the University of Lund.  His research looks at global climate politics and environmental security with a focus on how climate change may influence human migration. He is particularly interested in the knowledge and language used around these issues.

“Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) has been establishing itself as a forward-looking centre for research on global environmental change. It is thus a great milieu for developing my research, and I’m particularly keen on contributing to the department’s advancement in the field of sustainability science.”

“I’m also excited by the partnerships LEC has with other departments at Lancaster University, a great source of further potential exchanges and collaborations.”

Building the sustainability team further

Two more social scientists will be joining Rebecca, Giovanni and Nils in the next few months. Dr Manoj Roy’s expertise is around sustainable cities. He joins from the University of Manchester where he has been working on climate change, poverty and social movements in urban Bangladesh. Dr Ben Neimark joins from the USA, where he has been carrying out research in Madagascar around bioprospecting, the commercialisation of useful natural compounds for new pharmaceutical and industrial products.

As well as carrying out their own research the new sustainability lecturers will be teaching geography students and feeding into other programmes.