Dr Zoe M Harris is a Lecturer in Environment and Sustainability and a NERC Industrial Innovation Research Fellow. Zoe’s core research focuses on how we can use land to provide food and energy provisions whilst minimising environmental impacts. She is currently assessing the feasibility of vertical farming and the potential it has to support the deployment of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).
Zoe also has interests in the role of gender in the energy sector and is founder of the IVUGER network, which aims to support women and BAME women in UK energy research. She has undertaken work into the role of job advert wording on applicant diversity and has a new project assessing the role of diversity in decisions making for transport decarbonisation in Bradford.
Zoe is the National Task Lead for the UK for Task 45 of IEA Bioenergy. In this role she represents the UK research landscape and develops collaborative research for “Climate and Sustainability Effects of Bioenergy within the broader Bioeconomy”.
Zoe is a keen science communicator and professionally trained actor. She uses her theatre training to deliver workshops on how scientists can better communicate their research.
Prior to joining CES, Zoe was a Research Fellow, and Research Associate, at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London. She has worked in DEFRA as a Science Officer assessing GHG mitigation options for agriculture, and in BEIS and DfT as a Policy Adviser on the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). Zoe completed her PhD and BSc Biology at the University of Southampton.
Zoe’s core research interest are in how we use land to provide food and energy provisions whilst minimising environmental impacts?
Zoe’s NERC Fellowship investigate the relationship between vertical farming and BECCS deployment. She is investigating if vertical farming is sustainable, and how this technology could support BECCS deployment through land sparing or potentially through supply of bioenergy crops.
Zoe’s research interest include:
- Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage
- Land use change
- Eddy covariance
- Soil GHG emissions
- Vertical farming
Zoe is also interested in the role of gender in the energy sector and received a UKERC Networking fund grant to found the IVUGER network – Increasing Visibility of Underrepresented Groups in Energy Research. This project provided training and seed funding for women in energy research, and conducted research into the impact of job wording on the diversity of applicants. Zoe recently won a DecarboN8 seed fund to develop methodology, which assesses the role of diversity in problem solving, using transport in Bradford as a case study.
This is a pilot project designed to better understand how collective decision making over resource allocation happens; how people work together and potential areas where conflict arises.
- Start date: 1 February 2021
- End date: 31 January 2022.
This project will develop a rapid alternative cultivation system for dedicated bioenergy feedstocks.
- Start date: 1 August 2021
- End date: 31 January 2022.
Postgraduate research supervision
I am always happy to receive inquiries from students regarding PhD supervision around the topics of bioenergy, vertical farming, land use and ecosystem/soil GHG exchange.
Obafemi Okusipe - "Biodiversity Action Planning for Higher Education Institutes", PDS in collaboration with University of Surrey Estates and Facilities
Michael Gargaro - "The land sparing potential of vertical farming to support Bioenergy with Carbon Capture Storage (BECCS) deployment"
Sophie Tudge - biodiversity and bioenergy crops
Patience Gaise - Agroforestry and Coco farming
Sarah Kakadellis - LISS PhD Candidate, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London – “The feasibility of food waste and bioplastics co-digestion for industrial anaerobic digestion within a bioeconomy framework.”
I regularly supervise, and co-supervise, 3-4 MSc student dissertations projects each year.
- Global Graduate Award in Sustainability (ENGL001)
- Sustainable Development: Applications (ENGM067)
- Environmental Science and Society (ENGM060)
- Sustainable Development: Applications (ENGM067)
- Sustainable Development: Foundations (ENGM064)
- Transitions to a Low Carbon Economy (ENGM184)
I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). I believe in taking an active learning approach and encouraging students to take ownership of their learning.
I have developed my own science communication workshops which take skills learned from actor training and apply them to science communication. I have delivered workshops to MSc, PhD and postdocs at the University of Southampton and Imperial College London. I look forward to further developing and deploying here at Surrey.
This article evaluates the suitability of the ECOSSE model to estimate soil greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes from short rotation coppice willow (SRC-Willow), short rotation forestry (SRF-Scots Pine) and Miscanthus after land-use change from conventional systems (grassland and arable). We simulate heterotrophic respiration (R h), nitrous oxide (N 2 O) and methane (CH 4) fluxes at four paired sites in the UK and compare them to estimates of R h derived from the ecosystem respiration estimated from eddy covariance (EC) and R h estimated from chamber (IRGA) measurements, as well as direct measurements of N 2 O and CH 4 fluxes. Significant association between modelled and EC-derived R h was found under Miscanthus, with correlation coefficient (r) ranging between 0.54 and 0.70. Association between IRGA-derived R h and modelled outputs was statistically significant at the Aberys-twyth site (r = 0.64), but not significant at the Lincolnshire site (r = 0.29). At all SRC-Willow sites, significant association was found between modelled and measurement-derived R h (0.44 ≤ r ≤ 0.77); significant error was found only for the EC-derived R h at the Lincolnshire site. Significant association and no significant error were also found for SRF-Scots Pine and perennial grass. For the arable fields, the modelled CO 2 correlated well just with the IRGA-derived R h at one site (r = 0.75). No bias in the model was found at any site, regardless of the measurement type used for the model evaluation. Across all land uses, fluxes of CH 4 and N 2 O were shown to represent a small proportion of the total GHG balance; these fluxes have been modelled adequately on a monthly time-step. This study provides confidence in using ECOSSE for predicting the impacts of future land use on GHG balance, at site level as well as at national level.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that to limit warming to 1.5 °C, Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) is required. Integrated assessment models (IAMS) predict that a land area between the size of Argentina and Australia is required for bioenergy crops, a 3–7 time increase in the current bioenergy planting area globally. The authors pose the question of whether vertical farming (VF) technology can enable BECCS deployment, either via land sparing or supply. VF involves indoor controlled environment cultivation, and can increase productivity per unit land area by 5–10 times. VF is predominantly being used to grow small, high value leafy greens with rapid growth cycles. Capital expenditure, operational expenditure, and sustainability are challenges in current VF industries, and will affect the ability to utilise this technology for other crops. The authors argue that, whilst challenging, VF could help reach wider climate goals. Application of VF for bioenergy crops could be a game changer in delivering BECCS technologies and may reduce the land footprint required as well as the subsequent associated negative environmental impacts. VF bioenergy could allow us to cultivate the future demand for bioenergy for BECCS on the same, or less, land area than is currently used globally.