Sustainable Energy and Environment

Theme lead: Dr Alix Cage

Our internationally recognised researchers work on a multitude of time-scales and environments in order to better understand Earth processes and its climate, and contribute expertise towards the following areas:

Measuring soil properties Biogeochemistry and Global Change

Dr Ian Oliver

Using biogeochemical and ecological expertise, we study greenhouse gas fluxes, water quality and soil management, restoration ecology of wetland systems and the benefits this can have on carbon sequestration, the fate of a range of contaminants (e.g. agricultural, metals, radioactive substances) and the physical and ecological impacts of these contaminants, and environmental assessment and management.

Measuring ice properties Glacial and Periglacial Environments

Dr Peter Knight, Dr Zoe Robinson and Dr Richard Waller

A range of techniques are used to focus on glaciology, hydrogeology in glacial environments and geomorphological processes, with particular expertise in basal ice and permafrost processes.

Soil study Landscape Ecology

Dr Ian Oliver, Dr Sarah Taylor (Life Sciences) and Dr Peter Thomas (Life Sciences)

Researchers in this area study terrestrial ecotoxicology, soil remediation and restoration using novel materials, and  plant ecology, in particular tree and woodland ecology with special expertise in regeneration dynamics, invasive species and biosecurity.


testing lake water Quaternary Environmental Change

Dr Alix Cage, Dr Katie Szkornik, Dr Keziah Stott and Dr Richard Waller

Better understanding of our current geological period, the Quaternary (last 2.6 million years), is important when we consider our current and future climate. 

Researchers within this area utilise a range of palaeoecological, geochemical, dating, and mapping and modelling techniques to reconstruct processes occurring in marine, lake, coastal and glacial/past glacial environments, with particular focus on palaeoceanography, sea level change and polar/subpolar environments.

Research is supported by funding from sources including the UK Research Councils, the Environment Agency, the Royal Society, Natural England, The Nuffield Foundation,  the Royal Society of Chemistry and the European Commission. 

Our laboratory and field-based research kits are equipped to study water, soil, sediment, air, and bioform/biodiversity characteristics in varied environments, along with micropalaentological (including composite field of depth images), grain size and analytical SEM facilities.

If you would like to find out more about the research themes, research facilities or postgraduate opportunities, please visit the relevant links on this website.

For general enquiries, please contact Dr Alix Cage, or for more specific enquiries, please contact the relevant faculty member.

Earth Systems

Tambora caldera

Theme lead: Dr Jamie Pringle

Geosystems research combines expertise in geophysics, petrology, volcanology, sedimentology, structural geology and palaeontology. It draws together experts from three internationally recognised research groups:

The Applied and Environmental Geophysics Research Group focuses on the application of geophysical techniques to engineering, environmental and archaeological problems.

Research by the Basin Dynamics Research Group ranges from sedimentary basins, their controls, fill, and subsequent deformation and inversion, to petroleum geoscience, palaeoecology and biogeography.

The Keele Petrology Group studies modern and ancient igneous (and metamorphic) systems, using a wide range of field, geochemical, isotopic, and quantitative textural techniques.

Geosystems research is supported by the Research Councils UK, charities, as well as European and Industrial sponsors. The Basin Dynamics Research Group is a member of the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Oil and Gas.

Responsibility and Resilience

Welcome to the Responsibility and Resilience research theme, which comprises seven academic staff in Human Geography:


Dr. Daniel Allen

Dr. Katie Higgins

Professor Clare Holdsworth

Dr. Lisa Lau

Dr. Deirdre McKay

Dr. Alex Nobajas

Professor Simon Pemberton


The research theme of Responsibility and Resilience explores issues relating to responsibilities to others in an unequal world, and who may be proximate or distant in both space and time. It also considers the relations between the local and the global and the responsibilities for the relations on which the privileges of some places and groups depend, as well as local responsibilities for those less powerful. In addition, in the context of responsibility, our research investigates the differential abilities of individuals, groups, organisations and/or communities to cope with external stresses and disturbance as a result of rapid social, political, economic or environmental change.


There is a shared interest in developing theoretical, methodological and policy-relevant approaches to questions connected with cultural, political, economic and demographic change. This includes other staff within the Institute for Sustainable Futures and the Institute for Social Inclusion. There is also a strong emphasis in our research on seeking to influence the working practices of a variety of key stakeholders and policy communities and to engage with a wide range of social and community groups.


Current and recent research projects (click relevant hyperlinks to find more details on each project)

In the last five years, cluster members have generated over £1 million in research income to undertake a number of major research projects (see below).A wide range of different funding agencies supports primary and applied research by the theme members. These include the UK Research Councils, Leverhulme Trust, British Academy, Higher Education Academy, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, European Commission, Spanish Science and Innovation Ministry and the Australian Research Council.




The social life of busyness in an age of de-acceleration (Cluster member: Professor Clare Holdsworth. Role: Primary Investigator. Date of Project: 2018-2020. Award: £152,000. Funder: The Leverhulme Trust).

 Perceptions on Otter Predation (Cluster members: Dr. Dan Allen and Professor Simon Pemberton. Role: Dan Allen - Primary Investigator. Simon Pemberton - Co-Investigator. Date of Project: 2018. Award: £9,254. Funder: The Environment Agency).




Mass migration and real estate in European cities (Cluster member: Professor Simon Pemberton. Role: Co-Investigator. Date of project: 2016-2017. Award: £12,000. Funder: Urban Land Institute). Final project report available at:

 Hacking Plastic (Cluster member: Dr Deirdre McKay. Role: Principal Investigator. Date of project: 2017-2018. Award: £5,000. Funder: Keele Innovation Fund with community partner B Arts). See:

 The city and the countryside in Spanish cartography: a historic perspective (Cluster member: Dr. Alex Nobajas. Role: Primary Investigator (UK). Date of Project: 2017-2019. Award: €48,000 (c.£45,000). Funder: Spanish Economy and Competitiveness Ministry).




Exploring emergent practices of community-based planning in a devolved UK (Cluster member: Professor Simon Pemberton. Role: Primary Investigator. Date of project: 2015-2016. Award: £24,490. Funder: Planning Exchange Foundation). Final project report available at:

 Curating Development:  Filipino migrants’ investment in Philippine futures (Cluster member: Dr Deirdre McKay. Role: Co-Investigator. Date of project: 2016-2018. Award: £110,000. Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council Global Challenges Research Fund). See:

 Introducing undergraduate students to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Cluster member: Dr. Alex Nobajas. Role: Primary Investigator (UK). Date of project: 2016-2017. Award: £2590. Funder: Learning and Professional Development Centre, Keele University).




Understanding the practice and developing the theory of welfare bricolage in super-diverse neighbourhoods (Cluster member: Professor Simon Pemberton. Role: Primary Investigator (UK). Date of project: 2015-2017. Award: £54,850. Funder: NORFACE). Details at:

 Super-diverse neighbourhoods and residential mobility (Cluster member: Professor Simon Pemberton. Role: Primary Investigator, Date of project: 2015-2017. Award: £49,487. Funder: Leverhulme Trust). Final project report available at:

 Private aid and social media (Cluster member: Dr Deirdre McKay. Role: UK Co-Investigator. Date of project: 2015-2018. Award: £300,000. Funders: British Council Newton Fund Institutional Links Project; The Newton Fund Tech4Dev Network; PDRA Disaster Management Stream

 Models in Spanish urban cartography: a historical analysis (Cluster member: Dr. Alex Nobajas. Role: Primary Investigator (UK). Date of project: 2015-2017. Award: €48,400 (c.£45,000) plus €85,000 (c.£80,000) PhD studentship. Funder: Spanish Science and Innovation Ministry).

 Youth migration, new social movements and digital networks (#eMovix) (Cluster member: Dr. Alex Nobajas. Role: Primary Investigator (UK). Date of project: 2015-2017. Award: € 77,263 (c.£74,000). Funder: Obra Social la Caixa).




Youth Entrepreneurship in Portugal and the UK (Cluster member: Professor Clare Holdsworth. Role. Scientific Advisor. Date of project: 2014-2016. Award: £230,429. Funder: EU Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship). Details at:


Current research students and recently completed PhDs


Cluster members are actively involved in supervising a number of postgraduate research students across a range of topics and research areas:


Current research students:


  • Tamsin Fisher (commenced October 2017; ESRC North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership) Young people’s wellbeing and autotelic practices: a narrative and go-along inquiry of youth activities (Supervisor: Professor Clare Holdsworth)
  • Laura Brennan (commenced October 2017; self-funded) Gender, Migration and Intergenerational Mobility (Supervisor: Professor Clare Holdsworth)
  • Adam Peacock (commenced October 2017; Keele Faculty of Social Sciences Studentship) Multi-spatiality and experiences of living in the Rural-Urban Fringe (Supervisor: Professor Simon Pemberton)
  • Iqtadar Shah (commenced October 2017; self-funded) Modelling agri-tourism potential in rural areas using GIS methods (Supervisor: Dr. Alex Nobajas and Professor Simon Pemberton)
  • Lei Xiaoyu (commenced January 2017; self-funded) Using creative spaces for public education on plastic waste (Supervisor: Dr Deirdre McKay)
  • Zahid Mughal (commenced September 2016; self-funded) Walking the cosmopolitan talk: the meanings of cosmopolitan identities on the streets of Hong Kong (Supervisors: Dr Deirdre McKay and Dr Lisa Lau)
  • Paulina Mackrell (commenced October 2014; Keele Faculty of Social Sciences Studentship) EU8 migrants and representations of the English countryside (Supervisor: Professor Simon Pemberton)


Recent PhD completions:


  • Ben Duke (HEA Doctoral Programme) Articulating learning and employability through work experience (Supervisor: Professor Clare Holdsworth)
  • Katherine Mycock (Keele Faculty of Social Sciences Studentship) Understanding the multiple [dis]connections of younger people and ‘nature’ (Supervisor: Professor Clare Holdsworth)
  • Juliette Hallaire (Keele International Studentship) Linking resource degradation and international migration: generating the migrant crisis in Senegal (Supervisor: Dr. Deirdre McKay)


Further information


Beyond the above research projects, cluster members are also engaged in other on-going research activities concerned with the geographies of responsibility and resilience, including civic, population/mobility or health geographies; and recent methodological innovations.

If you have any queries or would like to find out more about the research theme, potential PhD topics, research facilities, current projects, and publications, please, visit the relevant links on the left hand menu bar.

For general enquiries contact Prof Simon Pemberton. For more specific enquiries, contact the relevant faculty member listed above.