BSSS Marking International Women’s Day

Mar 15, 2024 | Blog, Featured Blog

To mark International Women’s Day, we wanted to celebrate the fantastic women who are at the forefront of soil science and doing amazing work in the industry. This includes all the amazing women that are involved with the Society and soil science; from our President, our committees, our office team, our Early Careers representatives, members, and partners.

We thought this would be a great opportunity to hear more from our membership. Read about our Early Career members below to find out a bit more about what they do and also some interesting facts.

Hello! I’m your EC Committee Chair, Danni. I’m in my final year of my PhD at Cranfield studying the effects that biostimulants have on soil health factors and crop quality. My project is sponsored by Sainsbury’s and as such I carried out a 3-month internship within their agriculture team last year where I looked at how to reduce carbon emissions and water usage in the potato supply chain through agronomical practice changes. Outside of work life you can find me buying unnecessary house plants or doing something wild like a bungee jump!


Dannielle Roche

Hello, I am an EC committee member and a PhD student at Cranfield University. My project, sponsored by Future Biogas Ltd, is investigating whether soil microorganisms can be used to reduce nitrogen losses from the application of anaerobic digestate. Fun fact: my childhood hobby was keeping ducks, so my first foray into digging soil pits was to build them a pond.


Christina Van Midden

I’m a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen researching the water quality risks from soil structural degradation in Scotland, with a main focus on agricultural land management.


A fun fact about me is that in my spare time I play competitive dodgeball.


Jessica Brook

Hello 😊 I’m the past EC committee chair, I have been learning about and working with soils for about 10 years, and with their diversity there is always more to learn!! Having finished a PhD in soil science in 2017, I have worked in consultancy specializing in soils in the planning system, and I now work at Natural Resources Wales providing advice on soils and land use for Wales. When I’m not thinking about soils I like to read, go for long walks, and sing along to the radio while cooking!

Kirsty Charles

Hi, I’m Izzy – another member of your EC Committee! I am in the final stages of my PhD at the University of Leeds where I have been measuring greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soils. Soon I will be moving to ADAS where I will be working as a Soils Research Consultant.

Outside of work I love to read and knit holey jumpers!


Izzy Lloyd

Hi – I’m Jess and I’m the current ED&I rep for the Early Careers Committee. I completed my PhD at Bangor University, where I assessed the impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides on soil functions and ecology. I am now a Consultant Soil Scientist at Arcadis where our team specialise in assessing land and soils as part of the UK planning system, we also spend a lot of time on various sites conducting physical surveys. When I’m not busy augering I’m hiking, climbing, or pottering in my tiny garden.

Jess Potts

I’m a passionate and driven graduate soil consultant at Arcadis. My role as a soil scientist includes undertaking agricultural land classification surveys. These surveys are instrumental in evaluating and assessing environmental impacts of large-scale infrastructure projects in the EIA process.

Fun fact: When I’m not analysing soil samples, you will still find me in the countryside, either running, hiking or horse riding.


Liv Hoyland

I am an Australian soil scientist currently working as a consultant at Arcadis. Prior to consultancy, I worked in research back home focusing on spatial distribution of soil carbon within a diverse tree environment as well as how soil type can be used to manipulate different wine characteristics.

Fun fact about me, I live on a narrowboat and love to spend all my free time travelling either by boat or van.


Jaylie Ryan

I work as a postdoc in sustainable agriculture at the University of Leeds. My research focusses on finding new and innovative solutions for farmers to maintain or improve their soil health while still operating as viable businesses.

A fun fact about me could be that I’m a triplet! My brothers both work in finance and would love it if I’d stop droning on about soil at family dinners.


Catriona Willoughby

I am a PhD researcher. My research focuses on how the natural C sequestration technique of Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) affects the physical properties and hyrodlogy of soil. I use a range of techniques to investigate changes such as texture, structure, water retention and C efflux, as well as, using Geophysics to see if these changes can be monitored using electrical signals.

An interesting fact is that I recently attended a scientific study to Greenland to see if the Geophysical technique I use can be used to map underground melt water.


Tanya Trott

My PhD focuses on using sustainable soil amendments for bioremediation of hydrocarbon polluted soils and sediments. I have written a historical fiction book to highlight the need for remediation of the Niger delta area of Nigeria, which has been severely affected by oil spills.  A fun fact about me is that my dancing skills are just enough to save my life. As a trustee and volunteer for NGO’s that cater to educational and hygiene needs for young girls and women, I believe that if you educate a girl, you educate a nation. Happy international women’s day.


Okelani Aworabhi

I’m a PhD student at Cranfield University and Rothamsted Research, investigating soil erosion processes driven by rainfall and wind, as well as the interactions between plants and soil physical properties. In the realm of science, I’m celebrated for my precision and unwavering attention to detail, while outside, I’m an intrepid explorer seeking fresh adventures, whether it’s uncovering the beauty of nature or immersing myself in diverse cultures across the globe.


Sophia Bahddou

I’m doing a PhD on soil health in arable agroforestry systems. I absolutely love what I do as I get to work with lovely farmers, and get my hands dirty whilst measuring a wide range of soil health indicators. I’ve always been interested in food sustainability, but my love of soil blossomed whilst living off-grid in the Spanish desert – turns out it’s REALLY hard to grow food sustainably without good soil!


Rosy Scholes

My research focuses on the soil nitrogen (N) biogeochemical cycle and molecular microbiology. I am about to submit my thesis on the project highlighting a unique short circuit Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonium pathway in rice agro-ecosystem. The fate of N in soil and strategies for improving plant nutrient efficiency always fascinate me, as these factors have a direct impact on overall yield, food security and sustainability. Besides, my research I love to engage in volunteer fieldwork, travel, spicy cooking, fitness workouts, and gardening.


Megha Kaviraj

I study how plant roots influence soil structure depending on the neighbour they have. I’ve always been interested in plant-environment interactions and am fascinated by the complexity of what goes on under our feet.


When I’m not studying I enjoy many creative pursuits, particularly photography and writing.


 Annette Raffan

I work for the Environment Agency on a EU LIFE project called WADER as a Soil Health Advisor for farmers. I am very lucky in my current role as I can apply my scientific training in soil science in real life situations and incentivise farmers to look after their soil health in order to prevent nutrient losses through runoff/erosion and leaching. I made my professional mission to translate soil science to farmers, so they can make better educated choices in the future.


Fun fact: I have a 100m2 allotment with a 12 ft polytunnel and a green house where I can grow my Italian vegetables throughout the year.


Marta Cattin

I am a second year PhD student investigating whether fermenting food waste might reduce waste disposal emissions and improve storage of carbon in soils. I am also looking into potential barriers and enablers to this method being rolled out at scale, which means I have an interesting mix of both lab work and social study throughout the course of the project. Fermenting food waste (also known commonly as “bokashi”) has a lot of enthusiasts, and it has been great to connect with groups all over the UK and the world who are trying out their own variations, from Iceland to Qatar.

Samantha Kehoe

This International Women’s Day, we are joining the United Nations in celebrating under the theme Invest in women: Accelerate progress. By investing in women, we can spark change and speed the transition towards a healthier, safer, and more equal world for all.

We showcased this commitment at our Annual Conference and Early Careers’ Conference in Belfast back in December, where we heard from many women at the forefront of soil science and policy including Jack Hannam, Saoirse Tracy, Suzanne Higgins, Rachel Cassidy, Rachel Creamer, Rachel Boulderstone, Sallie Bailey, and Mary Cleary, amongst others. We were delighted to also hear from lots of women in our oral and poster presentation sessions; highlighting their extensive research as early career researchers and practitioners in the field.

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