A student tends plants in a polytunnel


Our world-class research, combining natural and social sciences, delivers the understanding needed to address the global environmental challenges that confront us all.

As one of the world’s largest and highest rated multi-disciplinary centres of environmental research, we bring together world-class researchers from a wide range of disciplines to help to find solutions to global environmental challenges.

Our success in doing this was recognised in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, which ranked us 5th in the UK for research power.

We have more than 80 academic staff, 180 PhD students and 50 post-doctoral researchers spanning the social, physical and biological aspects of the environment. They include anthropologists, environmental chemists, atmospheric scientists, ecologists, geologists, physicists, hydrologists, soil and plant scientists and social scientists. They are clustered within research groups, engaged in both fundamental and applied research.

We not only highlight the nature and scale of our research challenges but, working with businesses, governments and non-governmental organisations internationally, we provide the underlying knowledge to help find effective solutions. We are helped in this by colleagues from other disciplines within 51福利, and a network of partners from the UK, and around the world, including our partners in China and Brazil.

Research Challenges

Our research challenges provide a focus for our fundamental and applied research, ensuring our work helps provide the underlying knowledge needed to find effective solutions.

  • Agri-Food

    At Lancaster, we aim to facilitate the development of globally relevant and accessible food systems by 2030.

  • Eco-Innovation

    We recognise that sustainable development depends on promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production as well as protecting and managing the natural resources vital for economic and social development.

  • Science for the Anthropocene

    We don’t know what the world will be like in 2050. We need a different, pragmatic approach that puts the human dimension centre stage and can constantly adapt to changing circumstances, illuminating them as they change.

  • Sustainable Catchments

    Catchments host the infrastructure and industry associated with farms, villages and cities all of which have downstream consequences on water flows and quality.

  • Tropical Futures

    The tropics incorporate an incredible diversity of language and culture, as well as species and ecosystems. They also have some of the world’s poorest people and nations and some of the highest rates of species loss and ecosystem change.

Research Groups

Our research groups include a wide range of researchers from the natural and social scientists. They work in multi-disciplinary teams within, across and beyond these groups to help find solutions to the big global environmental challenges.

  • Atmosphere, Climate & Pollution

    Our research addresses the sources, transformation, trends and fate of chemicals in the environment with a focus on atmospheric composition, air quality and climate.

  • Critical Geographies

    Our research focuses on a variety of critical geographies that are vital to sustainability, social and environmental justice and our collective futures. These include geographies of migration, energy, water, food, climate change, infrastructure, the Anthropocene and the subterranean.

  • Earth Science

    The Earth Science Group research activities span four main areas of expertise: Volcanology and Hazards, Contemporary Environmental Processes, Sub-surface Fluids, and Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoenvironments.

  • Ecology & Conservation

    Our research uses molecular, behavioural and ecological techniques to understand how ecosystems function, how they respond to global change, and how they can be managed to enhance biodiversity and its associated services.

  • Environmental & Biogeochemistry

    We work across contemporary and palaeo timeframes, within the terrestrial, aquatic and deep Earth environments. Our analytical strengths span inorganic chemistry, stable and radioactive isotopes, noble gases, and trace organic analysis.

  • Geospatial Data Science

    We are undertaking research to develop innovative spatial techniques in order to increase our understanding of a wide range of environmental and socio-ecological systems.

  • Plant & Crop Science

    We work from the molecular to the crop scale with researchers and end-users of research, in both the natural (e.g. plant and soil ecology) and social sciences. Our particular strength is applying our research to provide solutions to real-world problems, particularly in relation to Agri-Food Challenges.

  • Political Ecology

    We understand political ecology to coalesce around critiques of the relationship between culture, politics and nature.

  • Soil, Plant & Land Systems

    We work from the molecular to the crop scale with researchers and end-users of research, in both the natural (e.g. plant and soil ecology) and social sciences.

  • Water Science

    We undertake pure and applied research to help improve our understanding of processes that control the movement, availability and quality of water, and the modelling of their influence on other environmental systems.