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Professor Jim Harris' research and teaching interests are wide - ranging from microbial ecology and how the diversity of the microbiota and their spatio-temporal distribution affect ecosystem processes, ecological restoration, systems ecology, policy implications and resilience. This has been applied in disturbed landscapes, urban areas, semi-natural and agricultural systems; in the assessment and treatment of wastes such as landfill leachate and other wastewaters; restoration ecology and in the quantitative assessment of ecosystem goods and services. This work has been funded by BBSRC, NERC and EPSRC, local and central government, and industry and has informed government policy, industrial practices and academic disciplines ranging from terrestrial ecology to engineered ecosystems in treatment processes.
Other research he is involved in focuses on how ecosystem principles can be used in managing modern society - from land restoration, through water treatment to the design of urban systems, he currently leads the largest urban ecology research project in Europe “Fragments, Functions and Flows Urban Ecosystem Services (F3UES)”, funded by the Natural Envirnment Research Council (NERC). His work has been used to develop policy for the EU, the Canadian Government, the IUCN, World Council for Protected Areas, and the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. He is a Member of the NERC Peer Review College and Moderating Panel; a Member of the NERC Food Security Evaluation Working Group; a Member of the NCUB food Security Working Group; a Member of the UKWRIP Agriculture Action Group, a Coordinating Editor Restoration Ecology; Past Chair of the Society for Ecological Restoration; Past Council Member British Society of Soil Science; and a Peer Reviewer for the Defra Ecosystem Approach Programme; Peer Reviewer Foresight Programme; Founder Steering Group Member Natural Capital Initiative. Jim was appointed Chair in Environmental Technology at Cranfield in January 2002.Jim's first degree was specializing in plant biochemistry. This was followed by his doctoral work in the microbiology of stored topsoil on opencast mine sites. There has been a clear emphasis on the development and application of soil microbial measurement methodology. This work has been set in a broad theme of land restoration and reclamation, and land-use monitoring in general. It has covered everything from the practicalities of providing objective ecosystem measures of the success of restoration programs, through the interaction of governance and science, setting conceptual frameworks for restoration ecology, policy, to educational initiatives.