Research team - University of Exeter staff

Professor Karen Hudson-Edwards

Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

Karen Hudson-Edwards is Professor in Sustainable Mining at the Camborne School of Mines and the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter, UK. Her research focuses on understanding the character and geochemical mobility of mine wastes, and on designing management and remediation schemes to lessen their impacts on ecosystem and human health. Over the past 25 years she has worked all over the globe, studying the aftermath of tailings dam failures, the geochemistry, mineralogy and microbiology of different types of mine wastes and the effectiveness of remediation and management schemes.

Dr Laura Newsome

Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

I am a geomicrobiologist based at Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter. I'm interested in understanding the behaviour of contaminants and metals in the environment, and how microorganisms can be used for bioremediation and bioprocessing applications. My research is interdisciplinary and incorporates microbiology, mineralogy and geochemistry to develop new insights into biogeochemical metal cycling in natural and engineered environments.

My research interests range from the nanoscale to the field scale. I use cutting edge microscopy and spectroscopy techniques to investigate the mechanisms by which microorganisms interact with metals and minerals. I work with samples that are naturally rich in metals and samples from metal-impacted environments, characterising their microbial communities and investigating how microbial processes can mobilise, redistribute and sequester metals. I’m also interested in exploring how we can use microorganisms to help recover metals from ore deposits.

Professor Frances Wall

Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

Professor of Applied Mineralogy, Camborne School of Mines (CSM), University of Exeter. Frances will be concentrating on research to predict and mitigate environmental impacts of lithium production from different varieties of deposits by developing life cycle assessment and qualitative comparison techniques first applied to rare earth deposits in the SoS RARE project. Frances specialises in technology raw materials, with interests in geology, processing, responsible sourcing and circular economy. A former Head of CSM, Frances is PI for the new UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre in Technology Metals and has recently been leading two international consortium research projects on critical metals (, She also leads a large Deep Digital Cornwall project to encourage business RD&I, is part of the MIREU (mining and metallurgy regions of Europe Horizons 2020 project) project and a member of the Geological Society Decarbonisation Group. Frances was named one of the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining 2016 and awarded the William Smith medal of the Geological Society of London for applied and economic aspects of geology in 2019.

Mr Rowan Halkes

Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

I am a research assistant at the Camborne School of Mines - University of Exeter. I will be focussing on predicting and mitigating the environmental impacts of lithium production from different deposit styles using Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) with project partners Minviro. The results will be considered in the wider framework of responsible sourcing and will help inform decision and policymakers. I previously worked on the Mining and Metallurgy Regions of Europe (MIREU) project where my work was centred around SLO and strategic twinning of mining regions. Before this, I worked as a Graduate Geo-Environmental Engineer and Exploration Geologist Intern after graduating from Camborne School of Mines in 2018.

Dr Alastair Skeffington

Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

I am a molecular biologist and bioinformatician broadly interested in molecular biology that underpins global-scale processes in the natural environment. After studying plant and microbial sciences at the University of Cambridge I did a PhD in plant genetics and metabolism at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Since then I have spent a number of years at the Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam, studying how marine algae make mineralized cell walls. I’m looking forward to getting to grips with more weird and wonderful microbes as part of the LiFT project.

Miss Rebecca Kirk

Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

I am a green chemist moving from a background primarily in circular economy and waste valorisation to mining engineering and biogeochemistry. My previous research was undertaken while studying at the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York. In correspondence with the National University of Colombia, my research focused on looking at valorisation and minimisation of waste in the coffee supply chain by producing mesoporous activated carbons from spent coffee waste to be used in heavy metal uptake from waste-water supplies. I will be beginning my PhD from September 2021 with Dr Laura Newsome at the University of Exeter as part of a CDT programme with GeoNetZero based at Heriott-Watt University in Edinburgh. My project focuses on the natural biogeochemistry of lithium and involves studies of the biogeochemical cycling of lithium and improvement to the environmental impact of lithium mining. While studying alongside GeoNetZero, I will be undergoing further training programmes and residentials in studies to improve energy accessibility for all including that of renewable energy sources in consideration of the impact of climate change. The programme aims to aid in sustainability goals and hopes to focus the use of geosciences in the aim of a Low Carbon Energy Economy and achieving Net Zero Carbon.