Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Dr. Ruth Falconer

Department / group: Division of Computing and Mathematics, School of Arts, Media & Computer Games
Google Scholar URL: Not available

Research interests:

I am an interdisciplinary researcher using systems approaches to ecological, biological & environmental problems. My subject specialism is Complex Systems Modelling which is underpinned by expertise in applied physics, 3D graphics & visualisation, statistics and programming. I have applied this expertise to develop models of biophysical and socio-economic-environmental systems. Interactive visualisation is a key tool for understanding complex systems and is interfaced to the developed computational models to characterise system dynamics and communicate complex technical information to specialists and non-specialists. I also co-lead the interdisciplinary Sustainability Assessment, Visualisation and Enhancement (SAVE) research group. Some areas of interest are outlined below.

Interactive Visualisation of Environmental Systems

Many contemporary problems are interdisciplinary in nature and involve many disciplines and stakeholders. Interactive visualization is a key component to support knowledge discovery, decision making and knowledge exchange. I have applied interactive visualisation to fundamental, knowledge exchange and policy facing research often developing bespoke tools based on computer games technology and engines.

Modelling and Visualisation for Fungal Ecology

A physiologically based reaction-diffusion model describing fungal growth and interactions has been developed to better understand the role of individual fungi in shaping community dynamics which has implications in soil decomposition, food spoilage and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems. In simple environments (agar plates) the model permits the interpretation of macroscopic patterns in terms of microscopic mechanisms, and this model has been applied to soil ecosystems in order to translate micro-scale soil processes to macro-scale soil properties, with relevance to ecosystem services and larger biogeochemical cycles.

Recently the model has been applied to quantifying the effect of Particulate Organic Matter (POM) distributions on soil respiration induced by fungi. Results indicate that fungal growth is highly non-linear and variable and, at given average nutrient concentrations, strongly dependent on the micro-scale POM distribution. Experimental data on C-CO2 derived from POM and SOM decomposition of fungi were obtained from soil samples which differed in POM abundance, POM size and bulk density. This data will be used to calibrate the model and generate hypotheses regarding the role of fungi in soil POM decomposition.

Currently we are using this model to explore grain spoilage and mycotoxin production.

Career history:

Not available

Active research projects:

2015 – 2018 Co-I (Abertay) on Water-Energy-Food Nexus: STEPPING UP. EPSRC. 1.4M Manchester University lead; Abertay share

2015 – Present Co-Investigator on Sustainable methods to supply clean water to Scotland’s rural communities. CREW:

2014 – Present Principal Investigator on AGRI-AP: Applied Graphics and Rendering Innovation for Agricultural Precision. TSB

2013 – Present Falconer RE, Isaacs JP, Gilmour D & Blackwood D. Building Information Models (BIM) and Interactive Visualisation. SFC – (HEFC)

2013 – Present Falconer RE, Isaacs JP, Gilmour D & Blackwood D. Investigating web based game technologies (webGL and openCL) for generating optimized fertilizer and lime maps. SAGES

2013 – Present Falconer RE, Isaacs JP, Gilmour D & Blackwood D. 3D visualization for TAYplan strategic landuse planning. TayPla

2013 – Present Blackwood D, Gilmour D, Isaacs J & Falconer R. Scottish Water Sector Overview Map for CREW (Center of Expertise for Water. CREW

2013 – 2013 Falconer RE, Isaacs JP, Gilmour D & Blackwood D Maximising passive solar gain: A physically based simulation and rendering approach. SFC – (HEFC)

2013 – Present Co-Investigator on Development of a potato breeding interactive decision-making tool: combining sensory and consumer science data (INTERFACE-AGRICO)

Recent publications:

Vogel LE, Makowski M, Garnier P, Vieublé-Gonod L, Coquet Y, Raynaud X, Nunan N, Chenu C, Falconer R, Pot V. (2015) Modelling the effect of soil meso- and macropores topology on the biodegradation of a soluble carbon substrate. In Press, Accepted Manuscript. Advances in Water Resources.

Falconer RE, Battaia G, Schmidt S, Baveye P, Chenu C, Otten W (2015) Microscale Heterogeneity Explains Experimental Variability and Non-Linearity in Soil Organic Matter Mineralisation. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0123774. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123774

Falconer, R.E.; Houston, A.N. (2015) Visual Simulation of Soil-Microbial System Using GPGPU Technology. Computation 2015, 3, 58-71.

Blackwood D J, Gilmour D J, Isaacs J P, Kurka T, Falconer R E, (2014), "Sustainable urban development in practice: the SAVE concept" Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 41(5) 885 – 906

E.V. Taguas, Ruth Falconer and A. M. Tarquis (2014). Engineering education on geosciences in a changing

world. European Journal of Engineering Education, 1-4.

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