Stefan Doerr: meet the expert in (soil water) repellency


Rob Bryant
College of Engineering, Swansea University

Rick Shakesby
College of Science, Swansea University

Stefan Doerr achieved a Diplom from Tübingen University (1993) and at that stage his main interests lay in limestone geomorphology. His interests in research into soil began at Swansea University where his PhD (awarded 1997) concerned soil water repellency relating to burned and unburned eucalypt and pine forests in north-central Portugal.

Research in Australia (downunder!) in 2009 (Stefan on the right).

This experience quickly led to major research papers, a well-cited review on the topic and the establishment of a soil hydrophobicity research group at Swansea.  In the last decade, his research has extended both geographically and in terms of topic matter, so that he has conducted research in, for example, Australia, USA and Canada as well as various countries in Europe on, for example, wildfire impacts on the global carbon cycle and the effects of ash on post-fire runoff processes.

Stefan collecting ash, Victoria, Australia 2009.

His interests in soil water repellency have also broken new ground with, for example, research into the chemical and physical factors and links between fire severity and soil water repellency.  As a demonstration of his standing in the wildfire community he is also Editor of the foremost journal of wildfire and its impacts (International Journal of Wildland Fire).

Poster for the presentation of thePhilippe Duchaufour Medal (2011).

In 2011 he was awarded the Philippe Duchaufour Medal by the European Geosciences Union (EGU), for his distinguished contributions to soil science. (The award is given annually by the Union’s Division on Soil System Sciences in honour of Philippe Duchaufour, who is regarded as bringing original and very fundamental contributions to soil science.) Stefan regularly attends EGU meetings in Vienna which has the collateral benefits of reminding him of his native language and the virtues of a continental climate in the northern spring.

Post-wildfire research is always puzzling! Question mark courtesy of a dead snake!

He recently took on the role of head of the Geography Department at Swansea University which has added further resolve to his attitude to work hard, play hard and engage in field work studying wild fires in warmer drier, climates than that of South Wales UK (which seems to be receiving more than its fair share of distilled water originating from the Atlantic Ocean, and which he claims is responsible for washing the most of the hair from his head; the hair that remains is apparently hydrophobic). It is difficult to find anyone who has not enjoyed working with Stefan. He seems to have a knack for gathering together people whose disciplines and interests have some impact on his pursuits (and, very often, theirs).

Stefan starting his motorcycle.

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About Antonio

I am a Biologist (BS in 1996) and PhD in Soil Science (2000), and work teaching and researching at the University of Sevilla (Spain). My on-going work includes the study of soil degradation processes in Mediterranean areas, soil erosion and the impact of wildfires on soils.
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