Dr Alice Milner

Research interests


Key Interests

Environmental change; peatlands; policy; science-policy; climate change


Environmental Change


I’m a physical geographer interested in environmental change over a range of timescales (decades, centuries, millennia) in the past, present and future. My research focuses on peatland and wetland systems because of their importance as global carbon stores. Specifically, I’m interested in how these carbon-rich peatlands respond and recover from erosion, climate changes, sea level rise and other pressures, such as pollution. Key field sites I work on are in Britain (Wales, East Anglia), the Mediterranean, and South Africa. My work spans across ecology, hydrology and climatology, and by understanding past environments, I aim to provide a baseline against which to measure success of restoration and environmental policies.


Science Policy

Most environmental science is relevant to policy but too often there are barriers between scientists and policy-makers, meaning relevant scientific research does not always reach the relevant policy area. My science-policy research is focussed on understanding these barriers and developing mechanisms to improve the flow of evidence from science to policy.

For two days a week, I work with the Chief Scientific Adviser of the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to:

  • Develop recommendations on how evidence is reviewed for use in Government decision making
  • Establish innovative mechanisms for the management and use of evidence in Defra
  • Act as a conduit between Defra evidence teams and the wider academic community
  • Challenge Defra on major evidence needs that could impact policy

The impact of my work is improved quality and transparency of the evidence underpinning policy decisions.


Personal profile

  • 2018 - present: Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Royal Holloway University of London.
  • 2014 - 2017: Lecturer in Physical Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London.
  • 2013 – present: Research Fellow, UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). NERC Knowledge Exchange Policy Secondment with Defra's Chief Scientific Adviser.
  • 2010 – 2013: Research Associate, University College London, Department of Geography. Past4Future (FP7)"Climate Dynamics Over Interglacial periods  the baseline" (WP1).
  • 2010: Ph.D. in Geography / Quaternary Science. University of Leeds.





Undergraduate and Postgraduate Teaching

  • GG3019: Wetland Environments: Process and Policy
  • GG1002: Environmental Change
  • GG1032: Geographical Research and Field Training (overseas field course to Spain)
  • GG5203: MSc Quaternary Science: Palynology




PhD Supervision

I welcome PhD applications in the following areas:

  • Ecosystem response to disturbance (e.g. climate change, pollution, landuse) specifically peatland and wetland environments
  • Long-term environmental change
  • Science-policy

Available PhD project: A delicate balance? Understanding spontaneous switches from erosion to carbon accumulation in northern peatlands. 

Application details can be found through the London NERC DTP, or contact me to discuss other opportunities and project ideas.



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