Researcher

Dr Miriam Munoz-Rojas

Field of Research (FoR)

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Biography

I completed a BSc in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Almeria (Spain) and a MSc in Environmental Sciences and Geographical Information Systems at Wageningen University (Netherlands) followed by a PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (2010-2012) at the University of Seville (Spain). In June 2013, I moved to Curtin University where I was appointed as Casual Lecturer and, in November 2013, I started a Postdoctoral...view more

I completed a BSc in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Almeria (Spain) and a MSc in Environmental Sciences and Geographical Information Systems at Wageningen University (Netherlands) followed by a PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (2010-2012) at the University of Seville (Spain). In June 2013, I moved to Curtin University where I was appointed as Casual Lecturer and, in November 2013, I started a Postdoctoral position at the University of Western Australia. During 2013-2018 I lead the Soil Program within the Restoration Seedbank Initiative, a major industry-based research project that focused on developing science to drive landscape restoration of biodiverse degraded ecosystems.

Since November 2018 I am ARC DECRA Fellow at UNSW Sydney. My current research is focused on the ecology, conservation and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems. I am particularly interested in understanding plant-soil-microbe interactions and harnessing novel methodologies, including genomics, metabolomics, and eco-engineering, to enhance large-scale ecosystem restoration outcomes and ensure the provision of key ecosystem services. I coordinate SOIL DarkDivNet, an add-on study of the global network DarkDivNet. that investigates the links between plant traits and soil biogeochemical parameters and indices regulated by soil microbial metabolic processes, i.e. soil respiration, carbon fixation and mineralisation, at several spatial scales.

 


My Grants

  • 2018-2021. M Muñoz-Rojas*. Cyanobacterial bioencapsulation for restoring degraded drylands. Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Award (DECRA)
  • 2018-2021. M Muñoz-Rojas*, T Erickson, D Merritt. Novel approaches for harnessing native soil microbial communities to restore biodiverse degraded ecosystems in drylands. Hermon Slade Foundation & Australia and Pacific Science Foundation/Australia Pacific Science Hermon Slade Research Fund
  • 2017-2020. T Erickson, D Merritt, M Muñoz-Rojas, A Guzzomi et al. Eco-engineering solutions to improve mine-site rehabilitation outcomes. Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Global Innovation Linkages Programme
  • 2018. M Muñoz-Rojas*, David Eldridge, Wendy Williams, Yolanda canton, Albert Sole. Innovative nature-based strategies for drylands restoration: the potential of indigenous cyanobacteria. UWA Research Collaboration Award
  • 2018. T Erickson, D Merritt, A Guzzomi, M Muñoz-Rojas. Catalysing the adoption of ‘restoration engineering’ in large-scale rehabilitation programs. University of Western Australia: Research Impact Grant (2018)

*CI (lead/chief investigator)


My Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environment (2012), University of Seville (Seville, Spain) (Summa cum laude, international mention). Modelling soil carbon sequestration capacity in Mediterranean soils.
  • Master of Innovation Management (2010) University of Almeria (Spain). Development of CarboSOIL system
  • M.Sc. Agricultural Engineering (2004) University of Almeria (Almeria, Spain). Land use dynamics and soil erosion risk in Sierra de Gádor (Spain)
  • M.Sc. Environmental Sciences and Geographical information Systems (2002) - Centre of Geo Information and Remote Sensing, Wageningen University (The Netherlands). Soil erosion assessment at different scale levels in the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park.

My Awards

2018 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award

2017 Science Writing Fellowship. University of New South Wales

2013 Travel grant for the COST-FTP Young Researcher’s Forum, European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)

2011-2013 Research Fellowship Contract Subprogram Torres Quevedo (MICINN-PTQ), Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain

2012 Young Scientist's Travel Award for Europeans, European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, Austria

2012 Outstanding Student Poster Award, European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, Austria

2011 Conference Grant for Early Stage Researchers, European Cooperation in Science and Technology

2003 Department Collaboration Fellowship at University of Almeria. Ministry of Education and Sciences, Spain

2002 Erasmus Fellowship (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Student) at Wageningen University & Research Centre, The Netherlands


My Research Activities

Current research projects

  • 2018-2021. M Muñoz-Rojas*. Cyanobacterial bioencapsulation for restoring degraded drylands. Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Award (DECRA)
  • 2018-2021. M Muñoz-Rojas*, T Erickson, D Merritt. Novel approaches for harnessing native soil microbial communities to restore biodiverse degraded ecosystems in drylands. Hermon Slade Foundation & Australia and Pacific Science Foundation/Australia Pacific Science Hermon Slade Research Fund
  • 2017-2020. T Erickson, D Merritt, M Muñoz-Rojas, A Guzzomi et al. Eco-engineering solutions to improve mine-site rehabilitation outcomes. Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Global Innovation Linkages Programme
  • 2018. M Muñoz-Rojas*, David Eldridge, Wendy Williams, Yolanda canton, Albert Sole. Innovative nature-based strategies for drylands restoration: the potential of indigenous cyanobacteria. UWA Research Collaboration Award
  • 2018. T Erickson, D Merritt, A Guzzomi, M Muñoz-Rojas. Catalysing the adoption of ‘restoration engineering’ in large-scale rehabilitation programs. University of Western Australia: Research Impact Grant (2018)

*CI (lead/chief investigator)

Other collaborations

  • 2014-long term. Assessing impacts of varying fire and weed management approaches on native species diversity, weed cover and fuel loads in urban Banksia woodland. Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Perth, Australia. CI: Ben Miller.
  • 2015-2018. Restoration of degraded soils from arid zones by cyanobacterial inoculation. Ministry of Economy and competitiveness, Spanish Government. CI: Yolanda Canton.
  • 2015-2018 Mine Site Rehabilitation through Novel Plant & Microbe Interactions. Australian Research Council. Industry partner: Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority; Australian Mineral Fertilisers PTY TD. CI: Andrew Whiteley.

My Research Supervision


Areas of supervision

**Supervision Opportunities**

I have opportunities for Honors, Master and PhD students who are interested in working on projects that focus on several aspects of soil and plant ecology in ecosystem conservation and restoration. Also, students are welcome to bring their own ideas.

Potential research topics:

  • Interactions between plant/seed-soil-microbes. Application for conservation and restoration of threatened plant communities and degraded land
  • Fire effects on soil biogeochemistry and microbial activity
  • Cyanobacteria from soil biocrust as bio-active resources in ecosystem conservation and restoration
  • Effects of land degradation/biodiversity loss/global change in soil function and biodiversity

Currently supervising

TEACHING AND SUPERVISION

 

Current students

•   Amber Bateman (PhD student) Developing strategies to increase soil functionality and seedling recruitment in post-mining arid landscape: the use of soil amendments and alternative soil substrates

•   Emma Stock (Master student) Experimenting with modified extruded seed pellets for large-scale mine rehabilitation

•   Melissa Chua (Honours student) The use of cyanobacteria as a bio-tool in post-mine restoration.

Visiting students

Raul Roman (PhD student; University of Almeria, Spain) Development of new methodologies for soil recovery in degraded drylands. Cyanobacteria inoculation in field settings.

Past students

•    Tayla Kneller (BSc hons, 2017) Effects of plant diversity and soil characteristics on restoration sucess of drylands using amended soils

•    Amber Bateman (BSc hons, 2016) Ecophysiological responses of arid zone species to novel growth substrates and drought: Implications for restoration success

•    Elisabeth Jiménez Compán (BSc hons, 2015) Analysis of the quantitative and qualitative changes in soil organic matter after fire: effects on soil microbial populations and influence of plant species.

•    Luke Kitchens (BSc hons, 2015) The contribution of Western Australian native plant species to soil water repellence: Characterising Hydrophobic Soils.

•    Rafaela Lima (BSc hons, International fellowship; 2014) Seedling emergence of native plant species in soil materials from mining sites.

 

Research Associates/Posdoctoral Research Fellows

James Charlesworth (2019- )

Angela Chilton, PhD (2018- )

Amber Bateman (2017)

Dylan Martini (2014-2016)


My Engagement

 

Editorial boards: Solid Earth (Topical Editor); Journal of Arid Environments (Consulting Editor) Land Degradation and Development; Journal of Environmental Management (Guest Editor)

Committees: Early Careeer, European Geosciences Union; Soil System Division; Subdivision Soil Pollution and Reclamation. Soil Science Australia.

Memberships: Society for Ecological Restoration (Washington, USA); Women in Soil Sciences (UK); Woman in Sciences Australia (Australia); Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (Colorado State University, USA); Fuegored (Spanish Fire Network Association); Conservation Australia Volunteers; MED_Soil Research Group (University of Seville, Spain), LANDCARE Erasmus + Programme.

Others: UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champions Program

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Location

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences