Alastair Skeffington

I hail from Wiltshire, but before moving to Devon I spent 7 years working on marine algae in Potsdam, Germany. Before that I did a PhD in plant sciences and a degree in natural sciences. I’m interested in all the amazing ways that processes going on at a tiny scales in the cells of plants and microbes have a big influence on our world and human society. They affect our climate, how we grow our food and understanding the workings of cells better we can help us to extract the resources we need in a sustainable way.

At the moment I’m looking into how microbes living deep under the surface can impact the resources we need from underground. In particular I’m seeing how microbes might release the element Lithium from rocks, which is needed in the Li-ion batteries that power your mobile phone and electric cars. We might even be able to use microbes as part of the extraction process, to mine lithium in a ‘green’ manner, with a low environmental impact.

My favorite mineral at the moment is probably calcite. Some algae that live in the sea can make incredibly complex structures out of this mineral and when they fall to the bottom of the sea they make sediments that eventually turn into chalk, like the white cliffs of Dover. Just google “coccolithophore”!

Here’s my university web profile





Alastair Skeffington

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