Prof. Steve Banwart holds the University of Leeds Leadership Chair in Integrated Soil / Agriculture / Water research and is Director of the Global Food and Environment Institute. He champions integrating research on soil and water resources into the study of Earth’s Critical Zone – the surface layer of the planet from bedrock to atmospheric boundary layer that provides most life-sustaining resources.
He obtained a BSc in Civil Engineering and MSc in Environmental Engineering from the University of Iowa and a PhD in Natural Environmental Science from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich. His core science is basic chemistry that is also applied to the study of soil systems and natural waters. His achievements include combining laboratory experimentation, theoretical mathematical modelling, and data from field studies in order to describe water flow, transport, and mechanisms of chemical transformations that quantify:
- Soil functions that produce crops, store and filter infiltrating water, transform nutrients, store carbon from the atmosphere as organic matter, provide habitat, and sustain biodiversity.
- The weathering of rock and minerals to deliver solutes to drainage waters in catchments and river basins, including the release of contamination from mining sites.
- The role of the geological barrier in containing civilian high-level nuclear waste within underground repositories constructed in bedrock.
- Biogeochemistry and natural biodegradation of hydrocarbon pollution in soil and groundwater aquifers.