Prof. Steven Banwart

University of Sheffield, United Kingdom


Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee and Author of the SCOPE Rapid Assessment Project on the Benefits of Soil Carbon


Professor Steve Banwart is one of two co-chairs for this SCOPE international rapid assessment project.  

He graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1981 and a MSc in Environmental Engineering in 1983. He joinded ETH-Zurich and completed a PhD in Natural Environmental Science in 1989, and joined the Dept of Inorganic Chemistry at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. He was appointed to a Research Faculty position in 1990, funded by the Swedish Nuclear Waste Management Company. This role included acting as Scientific Coordinator for a large, international research project on the geochemistry of nuclear waste disposal. He moved to the UK in 1995 as a lecturer in Environmental Engineering, joined the University of Sheffield in 1998 and was promoted to Professor of Environmental Engineering Science in 2002.

He currently holds a portfolio of grants with around £8M in attributable research income as principal investigator in the areas of soil chemistry and microbiology and environmental sustainability. He leads SoilTrEC, a £6M international project that studies Earth’s Critical Zone, the thin outer veneer of the planet from the tops of trees to the bottom of aquifers, that supports human activity. SoilTrEC establishes a network of Critical Zone Observatories for soils research; including field sites and partners in Europe, the USA and China.

He authored a commissioned article in the journal Nature, 9th June 2011 on the vision and science agenda of Critical Zone Observatory research to tackle the twin societal challenges of environmental sustainability and global food security.  

He is a co-author of the foresight chapter on Benefits of Soil Carbon in the United National Environment Programme (UNEP) 2012 Year Book.  He is principle author on the Royal Society of Chemistry published report 'Securing soils for sustainable agriculture - a science led strategy'; the outcome of a research strategy workshop on soils sustainability that drew on the collective input of experts from universities, national research centres, industry and government.

He is Director of the Kroto Research Institute at The University of Sheffield and from there leads the Cell-Mineral Research Centre, comprising members from 6 science and engineering departments with partners at the Universities of Leeds and Bristol. He currently serves as Chair of the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Facility for Environmental Nanoparticle Analysis & Characterisation (FENAC) Steering Committee.