November 3, 2023

Fiona Pearce

Location: Lancaster University


I’ve taken the scenic route to starting my PhD, having worked in GIS, policy and catchment management in the UK and New Zealand. My work has always been related to sustainable agriculture, and I’m broadly interested in how we can ensure the long-term sustainability of food production while protecting the natural environment.  Healthy soils are a critical to achieving this and I’m interested in how plants, soils and microbes interact to support a range of ecosystem functions.

My PhD research will look at degraded grassland soils in southern Kenya and aims to contribute to our understanding of effective restoration and management strategies. Kenyan grasslands are critical for food security but are often in poor condition due to overgrazing and under pressure from increasingly severe droughts. Understanding how we can restore soil functions (such as nutrient and carbon cycling) may be key to increasing productivity and improving drought resilience. However there is currently limited evidence for how management strategies used in temperate grasslands, such as rotational grazing or increasing plant diversity, may affect tropical soils.

I am based at Lancaster University but also affiliated with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the International Livestock Research Centre (ILRI), our CASE partner in Kenya.