Head and shoulders photograph of a woman with a tree and bracken in the background.

Erin Russell

Cranfield University


The Environmental and Economic Assessment of Crop-Based Sustainable Aviation Fuel: Minimizing the Land Use Impact


  • Dr Chikage Miyoshi 
  • Dr Toby Waine 

PhD Summary

The pressing need to mitigate climate change and remove carbon from our atmosphere is well known. The aviation sector has a responsibility to play their part and the opportunity to quickly reduce their carbon footprint by implementing the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), which can reduce GHG emissions by as much as 80% per flight. However, there are obstacles to overcome in implementing widespread use of SAF, including: current cost, feedstock availability, and overall sustainability. This research will take a system approach for SAF’s entire life cycle, focusing on the agricultural production phase to understand the role crop-based SAF can play in decarbonising aviation. 

Previous activity

I followed up my undergraduate studies in Physical Geography and Geological Sciences by completing a Postgraduate Diploma in GIS. This included a dissertation using remote sensing to analyse glacial change on Bylot Island, Sirmilik National Park, Nunavut to assess, expand and improve upon Parks Canada’s process for detecting glacial change under climate change. I then went on to do a dual degree Masters program in Forestry, TRANSFOR-M, at Bangor University and the University of Alberta, conducting research evaluating the current and future conservation status of forest genetic resources in western North America under climate change. Afterwards, I worked in data analytics before returning to academia to pursue my PhD. 

Why did you choose doctoral research?

When I completed my master’s program, I always intended to return to academia when the timing was right to pursue a PhD. The opportunity to be a part of CENTA and work on this project allows me to pursue my doctorate and passion for using GIS to aid in developing solutions to protect our environment, mitigate climate change, and drive sustainability. 

Why did you choose CENTA?

CENTA interested me because it gave me the opportunity to become part of an extended, collaborative network across the partner institutions of fellow scholars and academics, while providing training and industry partnership opportunities to ensure personal and professional development. 

Future plans

Gaining a PhD at Cranfield University as part of the Centa DTP will provide me with the qualifications to work in academia and research while gaining valuable experience with industry partners. In the future, I would like to continue in research and be involved in environmental consulting to help find solutions for the many challenges we face as the climate continues to change.