In episode 31 of the Tuesday Feature we question Franciska about all things soil.
Please can you briefly explain your research in simple terms?
I look at how plants and soils interact. Plants pump carbon into the soil and there are lots of microbes and other organisms in the soils which use this carbon to perform important processes, they release nutrients for plants to use and I study how that works. Mainly I look at how feedbacks and processes respond to climate change and land-use change.
How does this research benefit the general public?
It’s important to know how ecosystems will respond to climate change and other future changes such as land-use change. Ecosystems provide valuable functions and deliver important services such as food production and carbon sequestration for climate mitigation. We look at how soils will be able to continue under climate change which underpins society and human life. We need to eat and food comes from the soil in one way or another!
How did you first become interested in soils?
When I was doing my undergraduate degree at Wageningen University in the Netherlands I had a really good lecturer who gave particularly interesting lectures on soil biodiversity, I guess it was from there that I discovered how interesting soil science really is. I just really wanted to learn more!
Did you have any science heroes growing up? Who inspired you?
I went to study environmental studies for my undergraduate degree because I wanted to save the world. I wanted to be a scientist on a green peace ship so it actually turned out all differently. I didn’t really have a big hero – I just wanted to save the world.
How has working in Manchester helped you?
Massively – it’s just a really inspiring environment and there are a lot of very good people that are really supportive in anything you want to do. I have had a lot of support; particularly for my grant applications and it really is a great place to work.
What do you do outside of work?
I do a lot of sports: I like to mountain bike, run and climb. Sport is kind of in the background now because I have a one year old that takes up all my time.