Dr Jill Edmondson

BSc (hons), MSc, PhD

jill edmondson

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Job title: EPSRC LWEC Challenge Fellow
Division: Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Tags: Fellowship: LWEC Fellowship, Researcher, University of Sheffield
Related theme: LWEC


I am a soil scientist and ecologist. My research focusses on optimizing the ecosystem service provision in urban areas to improve sustainability and resilience. I held a postdoctoral position in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield after completing my PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University.

My Fellowship

Urban green infrastructure (for example, parks, allotments, gardens, wasteland) provides many important ecosystem services to people living in cities and towns, including recreation, filtration of pollutants and flood mitigation. However, there is little understanding of the important contribution that urban green infrastructure could make to provisioning ecosystem services, such as own-grown food and biofuel production from short rotation coppice. Own-growing has been recognised by policy makers as key to local food security and healthy diets and the UK government has a set a target that 15% of all energy should come from renewable sources. Despite this there have been no systematic assessments of how the UK urban green infrastructure could contribute to food and biofuel production.

Urban soils underpin the important ecosystem services provided by urban green infrastructure. My research has demonstrated that these soils are of high quality in terms of organic matter, but may contain high concentrations of pollutants such as heavy metals, which could limit their suitability for own-growing. My fellowship will use a novel approach combining GIS modelling, field soil sampling, laboratory analyses, soil-to-own-grown crop bioassays and citizen science methodologies to produce the first national-scale estimates of own-grown food production and the potential to use existing urban green infrastructure to increase food production and/or short rotation coppice biofuel production. This research will provide key insight into the ability of urban areas to contribute to regional food security and national targets for renewable energy production, and guide future local and national policy and planning.

Motivation to Apply

After just over six years of working as a postdoctoral research associate and researcher co-investigator on several large multidisciplinary EPSRC and NERC funded research projects my ambition was to develop my own independent research career. The EPSRC Living with Environmental Change Challenge Early Career Fellowship was the perfect opportunity for me to achieve this goal in my research field.

Career benefits of Fellowship

The EPSRC Early Career Fellowship will give me the opportunity to develop my own independent research career in a field of research I am really passionate about. During the five year fellowship I will be able to develop my international profile and start to build a research group addressing global challenges surrounding future food security around the interactions between soil science and ecosystem service provision.

Advice for future applicants

I really benefitted from chatting with and getting advice from other academics with experience of the fellowship application process.