Knowledge for a sustainable world

FaNSI Banner

The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich is a leader in natural resources research, promoting efficient management and use of renewable natural resources in support of sustainable livelihoods. Research is primarily focused on developing and emerging economies. NRI's presence and research partnerships in developing countries, and its training and capacity building programmes, provide the platform for the Institute to develop and disseminate key technologies and knowledge. This has resulted in substantial impact at farmer and community level, and has made significant contributions to the international research community. Much of the work also involves interaction with the developed world where it is equally applicable.

Our Research Groups report to two units of assesment, Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences and Anthropology and Development Studies. Further information including group members, projects and publications can be found below.

Impact is central to everything NRI does. Below you can find examples of our Impact Case Studies.

An important constituency within all of our Research Groups are our Early Career Researchers (ECRs). We have an active ECR Network that aims to develop skills, promote inter-disciplinarity and foster a collegiate research environment for those at an early state in their research careers.  The ECR Network’s agenda is set by the ECRs themselves and seeks to be inclusive and focussed on maximising career potential. 

Our Research and Development work is also organised to address thematic challenges. Contact Professor Ben Bennett for more details.

We study and process algae for future food, for feed to improve farmed animal health and welfare, for biofuels and as a source of green chemicals and nutraceuticals. We investigate the impact of climate change and disease on aquatic species in natural and aquaculture settings.

The Chemical Ecology Group works on the identification and use of naturally-produced chemicals for control of pests, particularly in the developing countries.

Our research addresses poverty and vulnerability, and how poor people themselves, governments, the private sector and civil society can help overcome them

The network allows ECRs to come together, to enhance their research and wider development skills in a dynamic and highly multidisciplinary working environment that strives for a vibrant and inclusive culture of research excellence.

Climate change and biodiversity loss are two of the biggest global challenges in the coming decades, primarily due to their impacts on the provision of ecosystem services.

The Food Systems Research Group addresses challenges and opportunities relating to the spectrum of activities from food production to consumption.

The work of the Pest Behaviour Group ranges from laboratory-based research to analyse the basic physiology and behaviour of pests and vectors through field-based studies of pest behaviour and ecology to translational research where knowledge of pest behaviour is used to develop innovative control technologies.

background

Chemical Ecology is the study of naturally occurring compounds that mediate the interactions of organisms with each other and with their surroundings. Understanding these interactions can lead to the discovery of novel methods for controlling pest and disease organisms and optimising the behaviour of beneficial insects and pollinators without harmful effects on the environment.

Our Group has an international reputation for fundamental and applied research in Chemical Ecology, established during more than 50 years of work, primarily in developing countries but also in the UK and mainland Europe. The Group has world renowned expertise in the isolation, identification, synthesis, formulation and applications of natural products from plants and animals.

These natural products include pheromones and other attractants for monitoring and control of crop and storage pests, host attractants for monitoring and control of disease vectors, chemicals responsible for resistance of crops to pests and pathogens and plant compounds that mediate the health, behaviour and well-being of pollinators.

The Group includes specialists in chemistry, entomology and plant biochemistry, and we work with a wide range of collaborating organisations and industrial partners in the UK, Europe and developing countries. Although focussed on providing solutions to problems in pest and disease management, members of the Group lecture and publish widely and are long-standing members of the international chemical ecology community.

  • Natural Pest Regulation in Orphan Crop Legumes in Africa (BBSRC-GCRF-SASSA) (2018-2021) (more…)
  • Environmentally Benign Combination Biopesticides - Transforming Pest Control in Chinese and UK Agriculture (Innovate UK -Agritech-Newton) (2019-2022)
  • Farmer research networks to evaluate sustainable agro-ecological crop protection using pesticidal plants (McKnight Foundation) (2017-2020) (more…)
  • Innovation For Improved Strawberry Pollination By Commercial Bumblebees Using Caffeine (BBSRC-IPA) (2017-2019) (more…)
  • The Dengue Vector Aedes aegypti: Microbiota and the Chemical Ecology of Oviposition Sites (MRC: 2016-2019)
  • Exploitation of interspecific signals to deter oviposition by spotted-wing drosophila (BBSRC; 2019-2022)
  • Auto-dissemination of Entomopathogenic Fungi for Sustainable Control of Spotted Wing Drosophila (Innovate UK; 2018-2021)
  • Identification of the sex pheromone of the newly-discovered Contarinia sp. near nastrutii (CARP; 2017-2020)
  • Development of a push-pull strategy against spotted wing drosophila (BBSRC-CTP, 2017-2021)
  • A semiochemical based strategy for control of red poultry mite (BEMB; 2018-2022).
  • Oviposition behaviour of Aedes aegypti (DTA 2017-2020)
  • IPM of Tree Fruit Pests and Diseases (AHDB; 2015-2020)
  • IPM of Strawberry Pests (AHDB; 2015-2020)
  • Understanding and developing methods for managing spotted wing drosophila (SWD) in the UK (AHDB; 2015-2020)
  • Reducing Contamination of Groundwater by Pesticides in Brazil (Innovate Newton; 2016-2019)
  • Biochemistry based selection and development of nutrient rich, weevil resistant sweet potato varieties in Uganda (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) (2014-2018)
  • CocoaPOP: Cocoa Pollination for Optimised Production (EC-Africa Caribbean Pacific Science and Technology Programme) (2013-2017). (More…)
  • Application of General Repellents Against Agricultural Pests (2016-2017)
  • Early Attractants for the Major New Fruit Dropsophilia suzukii, a Super Lure (2016-2017)
  • Harnessing Agricultural Ecosystem Biodiversity in small holder farming (Darwin Initiative) (2015-2017) (more…)
  • OPTIONS, Optimising Pesticidal Plants: Technology Innovation Outreach and Networks (EC-Africa Caribbean Pacific Science and Technology Programme)(2013-2017) (more…)
  • Medicine or poison? Consequences of floral chemistry and bee pathogens for bee performance and pollination (2013-2017)
  • New biofumigation-based approaches to sustainable control of soil-borne pathogens (2011-2015) (more...)
  • Toxic nectar and pollen: impacts on flower-visiting mutualists and antagonists and the role of invasion success (2011-2014)
  • Development of improved methods for detection, control and eradication of pine wood nematode in support of EU Plant Health policy (2011-2014) (more...)
  • Sex Pheromone Trap for Blackberry Leaf Midge (2010-2012) (more...)
  • Improved pest and disease management in blackcurrant (2010-2015) (more...)
  • African Dryland Alliance for Pesticidal Plant Technologies: A network for optimising and promoting the use of indigenous botanical knowledge for food security and poverty alleviation in Africa (2010-2013) (more…)
  • Biocontrol & Selective Physical Controls in Integrated Management of Pear Sucker (2008-2012) (more....)
  • Safe control of mirid pests on cocoa in West Africa (2007-2011) (more....)
  • Pheromone Technology for Management of Capsid Pests to Reduce Pesticide Use in Horticultural Crops (2007-2010) (more...)
  • The Southern Africa Pesticidal Plants Project (SAPP): Caesalpinioid Woodlands of Southern Africa: Optimising the Indigenous Use of Pesticidal Plants (2007-2011)
  • Integrated Pest and Disease Management for high quality protected raspberry production (2006-2011) (more...)
  • Biofumigant crops as replacements for methyl bromide soil sterilisation in sustainable strawberry production (2006-2010) (more...)
  • The chemical diversity of midge pheromones (2006-2009) (more...)
  • Tsetse.org - all you need to know about tsetse but were afraid to ask.

Current PhD students

  • Elisante Philemon: Agroecosystem biodiversity for harnessing pollination services in bean farming systems (NMAIST, Arusha)
  • Prisila Mkenda: Agroecosystem biodiversity for harnessing natural pest regulation services in bean farming systems (NMAIST, Arusha)
  • Jillian JoinerEcology of Aedes mosquito
  • Christina ConroyPush-pull against Spotted Wing Drosophila
  • Richard Lloyd MillsControl of red poultry mite
  • Arran Folly: Health benefits to pollinators from nectar and pollen chemistry of  UK Agri-environment Scheme plants (Royal Holloway University of London)
  • Laura Haynes: Impacts of Novel Multimodal Biopesticides on Beneficial Insects
  • Cormac CreaghThe role of vector competence in the transmission of Cacao Swollen Shoot Virus

Recently Completed PhD students

  • Billy Ferrara: Investigating MATE transporters in Dictyostelium discoideum: 2018
  • Milton Otema: Resistance in Sweetpotato to Cylas weevils 2015
  • Aliyu Aminu: Interactive effects of chickpea leaf surface chemicals and NPV 2015
  • John Kamanula: Pesticidal plants for controlling stored product pests 2015
  • Stephen Nyirenda: Pesticidal plants for controlling mites and aphids 2015
  • Professor Philip Stevenson
    Professor of Plant Chemistry. Over 30 years of experience studying the chemistry of plants and determining their biological activities. Interests in plant pesticides in resource-poor farming in Africa, resistance mechanisms to insects and diseases in crops (e.g., sweetpotato, groundnuts, chickpea, rice) and pollination ecology and bee health. Current funding sources include BBSRC, GCRF, Newton-Innovate UK, European Union (ACP S&T) and McKnight Foundation. Holds position at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Extensive field experience in South Asia and Africa.
  • Professor David Hall
    Professor of Chemical Ecology. Natural products chemist with over 40 years of experience in isolation, identification, synthesis, formulation and field application of insect semiochemicals and other natural products for monitoring and control of insect pests and diseases. Extensive short-term overseas experience in Asia, Africa and South America. Currently working on pests of cotton, coffee and cocoa in developing countries, and horticultural and forest pests in UK and the rest of Europe. Author of over 200 peer-reviewed publications.
  • Dr Daniel Bray
    Senior Research Fellow in Chemical Ecology. A behavioural ecologist with 15 years of experience working in chemical ecology. Extensive field work in Brazil developing pheromone based tools for control of leishmaniasis. Leads current projects on spotted wing drosophila and Aedes aegypti, which combine electrophysiology studies, lab bioassays, and field trials. Experience of working with insect, mammalian and marine systems.
  • Dr G Mandela Fernandez-Grandon
    Research Fellow in Chemical Ecology/Entomology. A decade of experience working with crop pests and vectors of human diseases. Expertise in insect behavioural studies and electrophysiology. Particular areas of interest include the development of novel odour-based control methods for crop protection and the study of host manipulation by viruses/parasites and the potential for application.  Current research projects include evaluating mosquito oviposition preference (MRC funded), evaluating the feasibility of a broad spectrum repellent (Agritech) and development of a new attractant lure for Spotted Wing Drosophila (Agritech).
  • Dudley Farman
    Analytical chemist with over 18 years of experience in analysis and formulation of insect pheromones and related natural products, and also in chemical quality assessment of horticultural produce. Wide experience of installation and maintenance of computer hardware and software, and of analytical equipment. Short-term overseas experience in Africa.
  • Dr Steve Harte
    Postdoctoral Organic Chemist/Chemical Ecologist with over 5 years of experience of working as a natural product chemist identifying and purifying novel fungal secondary metabolites used as part of a novel drug discovery methodology. Whilst at the NRI Steven has worked with the identification, isolation and synthesis of semio-chemicals collected from a variety of natural sources. Current projects include development of a pheromone-based monitoring system for a newly identified Contarinia midge, identification of weevil resistant sweetpotato varieties and upcycling of brewery waste to produce cosmetically active compounds.
  • Victoria Woolley
    Post Doctoral Research Fellow working on the NaPROCLA project (BBSRC-GCRF-SASSA). Previous research has focused on elucidating the natural function of entomopathogenic fungal secondary metabolites and identifying their potential for integrated pest management. The current project involves using a combination of molecular biology techniques and field trials, to investigate the potential of natural enemies to control insect pests of legumes in east Africa.

 

Affiliates

Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences

NRI researchers address challenges and opportunities relating to the spectrum of activities from food production to consumption, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries particularly in sub-Saharan Africa but increasingly also on those related to the UK. At the primary production end of the scale this includes a particular emphasis of the vectors of disease of people, livestock and crops. Our work post-harvest concentrates on durable and perishable crops to, reduce losses, enhance financial and/or nutritional crop value, improve storage and preservation, improve food processing technologies, ensuring food safety and quality management and, address food loss and waste – all with the ultimate aim of improving the livelihoods and nutritional status of vulnerable, less advantaged populations.

We study and process algae for future food, for feed to improve farmed animal health and welfare, for biofuels and as a source of green chemicals and nutraceuticals. We investigate the impact of climate change and disease on aquatic species in natural and aquaculture settings.

The Chemical Ecology Group works on the identification and use of naturally-produced chemicals for control of pests, particularly in the developing countries.

Climate change and biodiversity loss are two of the biggest global challenges in the coming decades, primarily due to their impacts on the provision of ecosystem services.

The Food Systems Research Group addresses challenges and opportunities relating to the spectrum of activities from food production to consumption.

The work of the Pest Behaviour Group ranges from laboratory-based research to analyse the basic physiology and behaviour of pests and vectors through field-based studies of pest behaviour and ecology to translational research where knowledge of pest behaviour is used to develop innovative control technologies.

The Plant Health Group’s research focusses on reducing yield losses caused by pests and diseases through application of integrated natural and social science approaches. Fundamental research to understand complex plant-virus-vector interactions are focussed on providing critical components needed to generate impact through improved and sustainable control measures.

Anthropology and Development Studies

NRI social scientists are committed to researching major questions about how households and communities in the global South escape from poverty, how they make themselves more resilient to external trends, and how they can be helped by governments and their policies, civil society, market actors, and international agencies. We research these questions in projects we design and lead ourselves, and in collaboration with colleagues from the biophysical sciences, in NRI and beyond.

Our research addresses poverty and vulnerability, and how poor people themselves, governments, the private sector and civil society can help overcome them

Impact Case Studies

NRI undertakes interdisciplinary research to improve lives and sustain our planet. We generate new knowledge and insights, carrying out our work together with our global partners and the communities we aim to support, to ensure our research has sustainable impact. From the concept stage to implementation and assessment, delivering real impact is intrinsic to our research projects and programmes, and encompasses our whole research environment organised into interconnected Research Groups and Development Programmes. As part of UKRI’s exercise to assess the impact of research outside academia, we submitted seven impact case studies in REF2021, the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. In this section, you will find summaries of our impact case studies with contact details of the lead academic.

Early Career Researcher Network (ECRN)

The network allows ECRs to come together, to enhance their research and wider development skills in a dynamic and highly multidisciplinary working environment that strives for a vibrant and inclusive culture of research excellence.