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Tom Sizmur

  • Programme Director for BSc Environmental Science

  • Leader of the Soil Biogeochemistry Group 

Areas of interest

  • Soil organic matter biogeochemistry
  • Improving soil health by applying organic amendments
  • The impact of environmental change on soil biogeochemical cycles

Postgraduate supervision

Tom is happy to discuss proposals for postdoctoral fellowships or PhD studentships in any area of soil biogeochemistry, but particularly those interested in soil carbon dynamics and the improvement of soil health through the incorporation of organic matter.

He currently supervises the following postdoctoral researchers and PhD students:

  • Dr Gabriel Yesuf: FoodSEqual- "Co-production of healthy, sustainable food systems for disadvantaged communities" funded by a BBSRC Transforming the Food System Grant
  • Edward Baker: Developing soil health indicators to inform land management decisions and increase crop yield and quality. Funded by a BBSRC studentship with CASE support from the Waitrose Agronomy Group
  • Chinoso Ogbuagu: Remediation of contaminated soils using biochar. Funded by The Petroleum Technology Development Fund
  • Harrison Frost: (University of Surrey) Do microplastics transfer potentially toxic elements from water to soil? Funded by a NERC SCENARIO studentship
  • Lottie Hawkins: Exploring the role of biochar to increase the sustainability of UK farming businesses. Funded by the Wilkie Calvert PhD Studentship
  • George Sawyer: Do cover crops increase the resilience and sustainability of the agri-food system? Funded by a BBSRC FoodBioSystems studentship
  • Christina Van Midden (Cranfield University) Manipulating the microbial legacy response to organic amendments for soil nutrient bioavailability. Funded by a BBSRC FoodBioSystems studentship with CASE
  • Ellie Barbrook: Optimizing soil nitrogen (N) in babyleaf salad crops for sustainable crop production. Funded by a BBSRC studentship with CASE support from the Waitrose Agronomy Group

Alumni he has supervised:

  • Dr Xin Shu: DIVERSE- DIVerse crop residues Engender Resilience of soil functions and Ecosystem services. Funded by a BBSRC New Investigator Grant
  • Dr Alfonso Rodriguez-Vila: Do biochar amendments reduce micronutrient availability in deficient soils? Funded by a Xunta de Galicia Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Research England GCRF Strategic Fund Development of Equitable Partnerships Project
  • Dr Henny Folorunso: How do earthworms and soil microbial communities interact to determine the fate of organic matter amendments to soil? Funded by a NERC SCENARIO studentship
  • Dr Dedy Antony: Factors affecting soil carbon storage at depth in agricultural systems in the UK. Funded by the Indonesian Government
  • Dr Jessica Ponting: Impact of extreme rainfall events on the mobility of potentially toxic elements in floodplains. Funded by a NERC SCENARIO studentship with CASE support from British Geological Survey
  • Dr Adetunji Alex Adekanmbi: Impact of climate change on soil respiration and resilience. Funded by a Commonwealth Scholarship
  • Dr Marijke Struijk: Can we make better use of crop residues? Funded by a SAGES/Faculty of Science studentship and the Waitrose Agronomy Group
  • Dr Betty Amponsah-Doku: Investigating the Contribution of Abiotic Stresses to the Ghanaian Cocoa Yield Gap. Funded by the Ghanaian Cocoa Board


Tom has convened modules in Environmental Chemistry (Year 2) and Environmental Pollution (Year 3) that are core to the BSc Environmental Science Programme and modules on Environmental Consultancy, Laboratory Analysis of Soils and Pollutants and a Field Class that are a core component of the MSc Environmental Pollution programme and optional on the MSc Environmental Management programme. He also teaches on other modules, including an MSc module that focuses on Pollutant Behaviour in the Environment and a BSc module on Research Training for Geography and Environmental Science students.

Every year Tom supervises a number of BSc and MSc dissertation research projects.

Research centres and groups

Environmental Science Research Division


Tom’s research interests span the biogeochemistry of soils in agricultural, natural, and polluted environments. His research interests particularly relate to the benefits that can be obtained from the incorporation of crop residues and other organic amendments into soils to recycle nutrients and feed soil organisms.

While there is widespread acceptance that increasing soil organic matter is a laudable aim and that organic amendments are a tractable means to achieve this aim, the objective of Tom’s research is to identify or develop strategies whereby the maximum possible benefits are obtained by the judicious application of situation appropriate amendments. Strategies under investigation include the application of biochar to tropical soils, and the use of cover crop green manure mixtures that provide benefits that are greater than the sum of the parts.

Tom is an Editor for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, a member of the British Ecological Society and Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Peer Review Colleges.

For more information on Tom's research, please see his personal webpage.


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