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Geo-Carb-Cymru: People

Aberystwyth University

Dr Andrew Mitchell

Cluster Leader

Telephone: 01970 622640

Dr Mitchell’s research interests are in the importance of microbes in regulating chemical reactions at the Earth’s surface and in the deep subsurface, specifically through the interaction with mineral surfaces. He is particularly interested in how such processes allow microorganisms to survive in cold and icy environments and potentially on other planets. Dr Mitchell also undertakes applied research into manipulating these biogeochemical processes for environmental engineering purposes, including metal and radionuclide pacification and geologic carbon capture and storage. He has undertaken lab and field based research into specific topics including Biogeochemical weathering and mineral formation, Microbe-metal-sediment interaction, transport and deposition, Environmental and hydrological biogeochemistry in glacierised and snow covered environments, Subglacial lake exploration, Bioremediation in surface and groundwater and Subsurface geologic carbon sequestration and enhanced oil recovery. He has been awarded funding from several organisations such as the European Commission, Department of Energy and US National Science Foundation.

Selected Publications:

  • Christner, B, Priscu, J, Achberger, A, Barbante, B, Carter, C, Christianson, K, Michaud, A, Mikucki, J, Mitchell, AC, Skidmore, M, Vick-Majors, T (2014). A microbial ecosystem beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature13667.
  • Mitchell, A. C., Lafreniere, M. J., Skidmore, M. L. & Boyd, E. S. (2013), Influence of bedrock mineral composition on microbial diversity in a subglacial environment. Geology, DOI: 10.1130/G34194.1
  • Mitchell, A. C., Dideriksen, K., Spangler, L. H., Cunningham, A. & Gerlach, R. (2010), Microbially enhanced carbon capture and storage by mineral-trapping and solubility-trapping. Environmental Science and Technology, DOI: 10.1021/es903270w
  • Mitchell, A. C., Phillips, A. J., Hiebert, R., Gerlach, R., Spangler, L. H. & Cunninghamam, A. B. (2009), Biofilm enhanced geologic sequestration of supercritical CO2. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijggc.2008.05.002

Dr Sara Rassner is a microbial ecologist with a particular interest in the effects of biogeochemistry and other environmental factors on aquatic microbial communities and their activities and interactions. She is the Sȇr Cymru Research Fellow for Geo-Carb-Cymru at Aberystwyth University and is focusing on using microbial communities to enhance carbon capture and storage. Sara is using skills developed during a decade’s multidisciplinary experience in freshwater, marine and Arctic biology, molecular microbiology, hydrochemistry and physical geography to characterise the interface between extreme environments and aquatic microorganisms. She came to Aberystwyth with a M.Sc. in Limnology and Marine Biology from Lund University, Sweden, to pursue a research interest in aquatic microbial ecology. In 2010, she was awarded a PhD (Aberystwyth) for her study of the biogeochemical influences of virus-bacterium interactions in High Arctic aquatic ecosystems. After her PhD, Sara was a research assistant on a NERC-funded project at Aberystwyth tracking geochemical tracers through a river catchment. More recently, Sara was funded by the Freshwater Biological Association’s 2013 Hugh Cary Gilson Award to lead a project on glacier fungal ecology on Svalbard. Sara has a profile of publication within internationally leading journals spanning several disciplines, for example ISME Journal, Environmental Microbiology and Science of the Total Environment. When not in the lab or field, she has been an editor of scientific manuscripts and a guest lecturer in Environmental Science at Hohai University, China.

Prof. Karina Sand is a biogeochemist with a background in geology and geochemistry. She is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND Fellow at Aberystwyth University interested in the mineral reactions occurring at the bio-mineral interface. Organisms are responsible for a wide range of mineral reactions, including intracellular and extracellular processes. During intracellular processes, they have full control of mineral growth rates and morphologies but extracellular polymers can also initiate hard-to-predict mineral reactions. Karina is interested in finding the mechanisms behind the polymer-mineral interactions. Her current research looks into the thermodynamics and kinetics of such interactions at the bond level, and relating that to nucleation barriers that can be found at the micron scale. The overall goal of this project is to increase CO2 conversion to rock by modifying reservoirs with biomimetic kinetic enhancers for carbonate formation.

Dr Paolo Musolino is an Italian mathematician specialised in Mathematical Analysis, and a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND Fellow at Aberystwyth University. Paolo’s research focuses on mathematical solutions to describe the laws governing physical phenomena, like heat transmission in a composite material or the behaviour of a fluid passing obstacles. Paolo came to Aberystwyth University after a PhD at the University of Padova (Italy), and following research periods in Germany, France, Portugal and in the UK. With his Fellowship, he will use and extend a sophisticated mathematical tool for analysing the behaviour of solutions of mathematical equations (the so-called “Functional Analytic Approach”) and use this to analyse fluid flows in porous materials and structures. This will bring a complementary dimension to the Geo-Carb-Cymru Cluster through the development of more efficient and accurate mathematical tools for computing the effective permeability of rocks. This will allow the research to look at processes at different scales (pores, reservoirs) more accurately.

Dr Arwyn Edwards

Prof. Andrew Evans

Dr Andrew Thomas

André Soares is a biologist who graduated from the University of Algarve, in Portugal, where he also pursued his Msc in Molecular and Microbial Biology. He is currently a PhD student at Aberystwyth University, where his main focus will be allying next-generation sequencing techniques to geomicrobiology. Namely, in this project he will try to understand the microbial impacts on the geosequestration of atmospheric CO2 in the deep subsurface and the magnitude of microbial contribution for subsurface heat generation. His research interests involve applying geomicrobiology to other environments, as karstic caves.

Cardiff University

Dr Snehasis Tripathy

Dr Shakil Masum joined the National Research Network for Low Carbon Energy and the Environment (NRN-LCEE) as a Research Fellow. He graduated from Cardiff University in 2008 with a First Class (Hons) in BEng Civil Engineering. He achieved a number of prizes and awards including ‘Page Prize’, ‘Lloyds Register of Shipping Prize’, ‘Alan and Cyril Body Educational Trust Prize’. He was awarded the ‘Institute of Civil Engineering ICE Wales Student Prize 2008’ for the outstanding performance in the undergraduate degree course. His special interest in the field of Geo-Environmental Engineering encouraged him to pursue a PhD degree in Cardiff University which he successfully completed in 2013. His research interests lie in the computational modelling of complex coupled processes in porous media. During his PhD programme, he developed a numerical model to study multi-species gas transport and reaction processes in the near field environment of an engineered barrier system of deep geological disposal facility for high level radioactive waste. In his previous postdoctoral position in the Cardiff University, he investigated the leakage of geologically sequestrated carbon dioxide and its impact on the subsurface environment. His research activities in University of Southampton and Cranfield University involved numerical modelling of radionuclide (uranium and radium) migration in subsurface soil and root uptake by mycorrhizal plants.

Prof. Hywel Thomas graduated from University College Swansea with a first class honours degree in Civil Engineering and after completing an MSc in Soil Mechanics at Imperial College, spent 4½ years with consulting engineers Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick & Partners, leading to Chartered Engineer status (MICE). He then returned to Swansea to read for a PhD, before taking up a post as an academic member of staff at Cardiff. He was awarded a Personal Chair by the University of Wales. Prof Thomas’ early research interests centred on the development of an improved understanding of the engineering behaviour of unsaturated soil. Attention was focused on constitutive models that described the complex thermo/hydro/mechanical response of such materials. In recognition of the advances made in this area, he was awarded a higher Doctorate of the University of Wales, a DSc. In response to a need to provide research support in an emerging area of importance, he subsequently expanded his research interests and established the Geoenvironmental Research Centre (GRC). The discipline combines traditional geotechnical engineering with environmental engineering considerations, to address a range of problems such as contaminated land, waste disposal, ground water pollution etc. Professor Thomas’ research interests now cover a wide range of geoenvironmental issues, from coupled multiphysics/geochemistry flow problems in soils and rocks, to waste disposal and land regeneration through to sustainability issues in general. A major focus of his work is the geological disposal of high level nuclear waste. Current interests also include the geoenergy field, with major projects on ground source heat, underground coal gasification, exploitation of unconventional gas and carbon sequestration in coal seams.

Joao Felix is a Geological Engineer from Lisbon, Portugal, with a BSc in Engineering Geology from the NOVA University of Lisbon and an MSc from the University of Portsmouth. His research interests lie in the environmental applications of geological carbon sequestration in conventional and unconventional reservoirs. His PhD focus in the experimental study of adsorption/desorption and permeability characteristics in coals and other rocks.

British Geological Survey

Dr David Schofield

Dr Davide Gamboa graduated in Geology and Natural Resources at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, after which he spend two years working as a mudlogging geologist in geothermal and hydrocarbon exploration. He then joined Cardiff University for a PhD and a Post-doc on the seismic-scale compartmentalisation of reservoir and seal units in deep-offshore margins affected by salt tectonics. Davide’s research interests focus marine geology and basin analysis, namely on the use of 3D seismic data to characterise the distribution of reservoir strata in buried stratigraphic successions, and the structural integrity of caprock units. These themes integrate a wide range of study topics such as submarine channels and canyons, turbidite systems, submarine landslides, fault analysis and fluid flow systems. Some of his previous work awarded him the 1st prize in the National Early Career Geologist Award from the Geological Society in 2012. Davide is currently a Sêr Cymru Fellow working in BGS Cardiff, focusing his research on the characterisation of offshore and onshore Carbon Capture and Storage sites in and around Wales.

Michelle Bentham has 15 years experience working Carbon Capture and Storage projects. She is a senior researcher and project manager and has worked on a substantial number of CCS projects including; GESTCO (European Potential for Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Combustion), Tyndall Centre CO2 sequestration in the UK, CO2ReMoVe (CO2 monitoring and Verification), NZEC (UK-China Near Zero Emissions Coal project). Her research interests and experience include assessing storage potential and methodologies, monitoring and verification, site characterisation, site leasing, public engagement, storage management and capacity building in CCS. Michelle was co-author on for the DTI (Department of Technology and Industry) Technology Status Report Technology Status Review – Monitoring Technologies for the Geological Storage of CO2. She was the BGS project manager and researcher in the first project to assess the CO2 storage capacity of all Ireland as part of the ‘Assessment of the all Island potential for geological storage of Carbon Dioxide in Ireland’ (commissioned by the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland) project, which directly influenced the CCS strategy in Ireland. She was BGS project manager and researcher on the Energy Technologies Institute UK Storage Appraisal project (UKSAP). Michelle has provided CCS training and capacity building in China and South Africa through EU funded projects. As well as presenting to government (DTI, DECC and at Westminster). Currently she is working on storage management issues with The Crown Estate and IEA-GHG. She has authored and co-authored of a number CCS focused scientific papers and book chapters.

University of Leeds

Prof Lianne Benning

National Museum Wales

Dr Richard Bevins, Keeper of Natural Sciences, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales
Richard is a mineralogist and petrologist with over 40 years of research experience. He is an authority on the Caledonian igneous history of Wales and related areas. His work has also encompassed low-grade metamorphism investigations, including Carboniferous sequences of the South Wales Coalfield. His most recent work has focussed on a re-examination of the provenance of the Stonehenge Bluestones. He is a member of the Geological Society’s External Relations Committee and Chair of its Geoconservation Committee. He is also Chair Elect of the British Geological Survey’s Collections Advisory Committee. He is an Honorary Lecturer at Cardiff University.

Mr Peter Walker

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