PhD: Linking functional diversity with soil carbon dynamics in secondary tropical forests
As an undergraduate, I studied environmental earth science at Aberystwyth University where I developed a keen interest in environmental geochemistry and soil-plant interactions, particularly in relation to land degradation and ecological restoration. I followed on from this by completing an MSc in land management (with a specialisation in reclamation and restoration) at Cranfield University and after graduating, further advanced my field and analytical research skills through my role as a research assistant on several funded projects for Cranfield University.
My passion for fieldwork and continued interest in forest landscape restoration inspired me to travel overseas to gain hands on practical experience as a volunteer with forest restoration projects in India and Australia. During this time, I fell irrecoverably in love with tropical forests and made them the focus of my research.
My PhD project combines several aspects of tropical forest research of particular interest to me and provides a number of potentially interesting research opportunities. The project investigates soil carbon dynamics during succession along an established chronosequence of secondary tropical forest in the Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Panama. My research aims identify relationships between forest age and below ground carbon cycling and examines links between above and below ground functional diversity. Gaining a mechanistic understanding of soil carbon dynamics during succession in secondary tropical forests is a high priority issue for global carbon management strategies and will provide important empirical data to aid potential forest restoration decision making processes.