An ecologist closely involved in the Earthwatch international environmental charity has been appointed as the University of Lincoln’s new Deputy Head of the School of Life Sciences.

Dr Michael Gillman brings a wealth of experience in ecology, environmental science and mathematical analysis.

With a background conducting research in tropical forest areas in Central and South America, Dr Gillman is motivated by ethical considerations alongside scientific research.

He said: “I have always worked closely with the indigenous people of the areas I visit, and am always keen to protect their land rights and maintain the conservation of their homeland.”

These considerations underpinned his work in Guyana over many years and will be applied to future projects in Ecuador.

Dr Gillman, who comes to Lincoln from the Open University, has a long-standing involvement with the Earthwatch project in Nicaragua. The charity leads the first research study to systematically analyse how the Masaya Volcano affects its environment.

The volcano releases harmful gases, so it is critical to know where they enter the food chain.

Dr Gillman has investigated the effects of the gases on plant communities and how this then travels through the food chain, including its potential impact on humans.

Knowledge of how volcanic pollutants travel and where they end up can help local people live more harmoniously with the Masaya Volcano by cultivating more acid-tolerant crops and developing safer evacuation plans.

Another key interest for Dr Gillman is the interaction between the physical and natural sciences.

The application of ecological and evolutionary theory often requires a high degree of mathematical competence. Dr Gillman teaches and has also written about addressing these underlying concepts of mathematical models in ecology and evolution, which are crucial for students and researchers working in this area.

On his appointment at Lincoln, Dr Gillman said: “The University is a fantastically dynamic institution and there is a great deal of potential. I am able to bring a breadth of knowledge and experience from both research-orientated and student engagement focussed institutions. With both great teaching and research facilities Lincoln is definitely being put on the map for its academic strengths.”