Tom Powell
PhD student/Associate Research Fellow


During my undergraduate masters program at Sheffield I became interested in the physiological and functional ecology of plants, and their fundamental role in the relationship between life and the planet. This led to a wider interest in the role of life and evolution within Earth system processes. My fourth year project looked at the relative influence of evolutionary history and functional ecology on the leaf nitrogen content of C3 and C4 grasses, and more widely at the tendency towards niche conservation and strong phylogenetic signals in plant lineages.

During this time I also became interested in human management of ecosystems, and its wider environmental consequences. The enormous impact of agricultural biomass harvest was an obvious field, and my third year dissertation focused on the effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 on crop yields.

My current research is a combination of these interests; looking at the effects of human land-use on Earth system processes, and possible ways to make this interaction more efficient and sustainable in the future; and also at humans as a newly evolved but very significant element in the relationship between life and the Earth.

Broad research specialisms:

Land use - Earth system interactions
Closing loops in agricultural systems


MBiolSci Ecology, University of Sheffield

Contact details

Tel+44 (0) 1392 72 2633
AddressHatherly Building
University of Exeter
Prince of Wales Road

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