Katy Faulkner

University of Warwick


Resistance and resilience of soil microbial communities to extreme weather


Professor Gary Bending, Professor Chris van der Gast & Dr Niall McNamara

PhD Summary

My project will look at the resistance and resilience of soil microbial communities to climate change, with a focus on extreme weather events such as flooding, drought and freezing. Due to climate change, these extreme weather events are expected to increase in frequency. This could have damaging effects on our soils, and therefore it is necessary to protect the nutrient, matter and energy cycles driven by soil microbes. In my project, I aim to explore the compositional and functional changes to soil microbial communities due to extreme weather events, in both the lab and the field.

What inspires you

I’ve always wanted to learn more about the world around me, and so I was drawn to studying science. Growing up in a rural area, I was especially interested in nature.

Previous activity

I read for a BSc. (Hons) in Biology at the University of Manchester followed by a Master of Research degree at Imperial College London. My Masters involved completing two independent research projects, based at the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops in Berlin, and the University of Iceland in Reykjavík. After this, I worked as a Research Assistant for 4 months before starting my PhD. This was an extension of one of the research projects I completed for my Masters, where I looked at how aquatic food webs are affected by warming in a natural system.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

I have completed several research projects prior to this PhD, and I enjoyed the process of completing original, innovative research. My area of study, global climate change, is one of the most pressing issues of our time and I feel fortunate to be able to contribute to such important research.

Why did you choose CENTA?

I applied for a CENTA studentship because I liked the idea of being part of a student cohort and a network of universities and research institutes with a strong focus on environmental research. Additionally, CENTA provides training in essential skills for researchers such as statistics and data management, as well as the opportunity to complete a placement outside of research to develop broader skills.

Future plans

I believe that studying for this PhD will enable me to become a competent, independent researcher. My future plans are to work in academia, continuing on the work in the research area of my PhD.