Dr Adam Pellegrini wins a prestigious research grant

Huge congratulations to Newnham College Lecturer Dr Adam Pellegrini on being awarded a European Research Council grant for his research on fire, carbon cycling, and climate change.

€636 million worth of grants have been invested in scientific projects spanning all disciplines of research from engineering to life sciences to humanities to help some of the most exciting young researchers across Europe launch their own projects, form their teams and pursue their most promising ideas.

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “We are proud to empower younger researchers to follow their curiosity. These new ERC laureates bring a remarkable wealth of scientific ideas, they will further our knowledge and some already have practical applications in sight. I wish them all the best of luck with their explorations.”

President of the European Research Council Prof. Maria Leptin said: “It is a pleasure to see this new group of bright minds at the start of their careers, set to take their research to new heights. I cannot emphasise enough that Europe as a whole – both at national and at EU level – has to continue to back and empower its promising talent. We must encourage young researchers who are led by sheer curiosity to go after their most ambitious scientific ideas. Investing in them and their frontier research is investing in our future.”

Dr Pellegrini’s awarded grant will fund studies to improve carbon credit schemes in dryland areas by boosting our grasp of the effects of periodic fire events on carbon capture and storage. Using new tools to help manage 24 million square km of drylands can help model the future of soils in the world’s savanna-grasslands.

Managing ecosystems to promote carbon sequestration, either by avoiding further loss or stimulating new sequestration, is considered a major means to combat climate change. In drylands, however, there is lack of clarity of possible detrimental effects on ecology, and doubt over the sustainability of some of the options adopted.

Dr Pellegrini explains, ‘The project will enable us to develop models of carbon flux that are more representative of drylands, where a much higher proportion of plant biomass is found in underground organs that are less affected by fires. We’ll also look at the potential of managed fire events to increase carbon capture and storage, an aspect that has rarely been explored despite promising indications. The models that we develop will then be used to implement a carbon-credit payment scheme for drylands in the United States, with our commercial partners.’

To find out more about this project click here.