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Photo of Dr Alastair Skeffington

Dr Alastair Skeffington

Research Fellow

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  Overview

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 now excited to be working on the Lithium for Future Technology project. With Dr. Laura Newsome and Prof. Karen Hudson-Edwards. I will be focussing on the microbiology of Li reserves, particularly those in the brines of salars. We will investigate the microbial communities present in different environments within the salar hydrological systems to understand how microbial metabolism may contribute to the concentration and cycling of Li within the brines. Microcosm experiments will allow us to investigate in more detail how biogeochemical conditions and microbial metabolism affect Li mobility. Since Li extraction processes likely increase the salinity of the brines, we will also investigate how increasing salinity might influence the functioning of relevant microbial communities. Finally we will work to apply this knowledge for improved, low environmental impact extraction of Li, using both model microbes and those extracted from brines to promote Li sorption or precipitation.

Qualifications

2013  PhD Plant Sciences John Innes Centre / University of East Anglia

2007 BA Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge

Career

2021 - present: Research fellow, LiFT project, Camborne School of Mines & Environment and Sustainability Institute University of Exeter

2021: Post-doctoral researcher, Technische Universitaet, Dresden, Germany

2014 - 2020: Post-doctoral fellow, Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Plany Physiology, Potsdam, Germany