Dr Alice Milner

Research interests


Key Interests

Peatlands; wet woodland; carbon; environmental change; policy; science-policy



Peatlands, wet woodland and carbon

My research aims to understand environmental change in peatland environments. I’m particularly interested in how these globally important carbon stores accumulate carbon, and how they respond to and recover from erosion (see this paper for more details), sea level rise and climate changes. I focus on a range of peatland environments including wet woodlands, lowland floodplain fens and upland peatland blanket bogs, and I work on key UK field sites in East Anglia (the Broads National Park) and Wales.


I established the Broadland Ecohydrological Observatory (BEO) alongside Prof Andy Baird and the Ted Ellis Trust at Wheatfen in 2017. The BEO is a wetland monitoring site collecting long-term data on the meteorological, hydrological and ecological dynamics of a floodplain fen. The BEO research aims to understand the carbon cycle and ecological dynamics of wet woodland; the response of floodplain wet woodland to the ingress of saline water linked to sea level rise and tidal surges; and the effects on their carbon sink function. The data and research from the BEO contributes to informing policy and management decisions on the carbon potential of wet woodlands. The work is in collaboration with a range of academic and non-academic institutions and is linked to research conducted by PhD researcher Maddie Timmins. If you’re interested in collaborating with the BEO or discussing opportunities for MRes/MSc/PhD research projects, please get in touch (email: alice.milner@rhul.ac.uk).



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. From a long-term secondment at the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), working with the Chief Scientific Adviser, I focus on:

  • Developing recommendations on how evidence is reviewed for use in Government decision making
  • Establishing innovative mechanisms for the management and use of evidence in Defra

My work contributed to national and international policy discussions (e.g., see here); introduced a system of evidence syntheses (Defra Evidence Statements) to inform high-profile policy issues; and established a programme of PhD policy interns to improve the flow of evidence between academia and policy. The impact of my work improved the quality and transparency of the evidence underpinning environmental policy decisions. I use my expertise in providing scientific evidence to inform policy decisions, and working alongside policymakers to advise other academics on developing their skills in this area.



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

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



PhD Supervision

I welcome PhD applications in the following areas:

  • Peatland carbon and ecological dynamics
  • Recovery of peatlands from erosion
  • Science-policy, including the mechanisms of the science-policy interface and how scientific evidence contributes to informing policy

PhD applications are welcome via the London NERC DTP, or contact me to discuss other opportunities and project ideas.



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