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Dr Magdalena Bieroza

Formerly at Lancaster University

Research overview


Excitation-emission fluorescence spectroscopy in characterisation of dissolved organic matter in natural and engineered aquatic systems



Research overview

My research interests and expertise lie within the field of aquatic biogeochemistry. I am particularly interested in understanding environmental cycling of macronutrients, Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus which are of key importance to both the environment and society. The latter is responsible for the paramount increase in macronutrient concentrations leading to acute problems of deteriorating water quality including contamination of potable resources, loss of biodiversity and eutrophication. In my research I aim to understand complex catchment-scale processes controlling macronutrient mobilisation and transport to the receiving freshwaters, rivers and lakes. Understanding and modelling of these biogeochemical processes requires a multidisciplinary approach, from biology, chemistry and hydrology to water engineering, statistics and computer science.

Current Research

1. High-frequency in situ nutrient monitoring in small agricultural groundwater-fed stream. Automated water quality monitoring offers a unique opportunity to understand the fine temporal structure of in-stream nutrient dynamics. This innovative and responsive research is funded by Natural Environment Research Council,

2. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) characterisation using excitation-emission fluorescence spectroscopy (EEM) to provide insights into catchment- and stream-scale biogeochemical processing of Carbon and Nitrogen,

3. A further development of SCIMAP model http://www.scimap.org.uk/ to integrate catchment diffuse pollution risks from nutrients and fine sediments and advance our ability to effectively address the requirements of the Water Framework Directive.


Research Interests

My research experience and expertise cover topics at the interface of catchment hydrology, biogeochemistry, limnology, ecohydrology and hydroinformatics. In particular, my research interests include:

  • Catchment hydrology and biogeochemistry, macronutrients catchment-scale transport, delivery to streams and lakes, nutrient cycling in lake and river ecosystems,
  • Aquatic biogeochemistry,
  • Hydrology and biogeochemistry at land-water interface in streams and lakes (hyporheic zone, benthic zone, water and nutrient fluxes at sediment/water column boundary),
  • Traditional long-term low-frequency and novel high-frequency real-time water quality monitoring,
  • Smart environmental tracers and sensors in water quality monitoring,
  • Water engineering (water resources management, water treatment, potable water quality, hydraulics),
  • Hydrological and environmental analysis and modelling (statistical analysis, geomatics, time series analysis, soft computing and artificial intelligence technologies, data-driven models),
  • Data mining and pattern recognition in complex environmental datasets,
  • Software development, programming and intelligent data processing,
  • Implementation and management of large environmental databases,
  • Computer enhanced learning.

Career Details

I joined the Lancaster Environment Centre in February 2011. My role is focused on nutrient biogeochemical cycling in agricultural catchments to understand the broad implications for freshwater quality. My work seeks to develop appropriate modelling and scaling tools to evaluate the spatial and temporal patterns of nutrient loss and to identify some of the key controls on these losses using statistical and numerical approaches.

In particular, my on-going research efforts concentrate on formulation of the SCIMAP framework for nitrate (Sensitive Catchment Integrated Modelling and Prediction, http://www.scimap.org.uk/) and robust analysis of high-frequency water quality data in NERC-funded project (Phosphorus dynamics in groundwater-fed rivers, Louise Heathwaite, PI).

Previously I worked as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant at Bristol University (Civil Engineering) investigating the long-term catchment-solute transport of nitrate in the Thames catchment. The special focus of this work was on nitrate trends and water quality response to land use and climate change over a significant period of time (140 years).

I completed a PhD in Civil Engineering at University of Birmingham (Characterising water treatment works performance using fluorescence spectroscopy, http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/651/). I obtained first-class degrees in hydrology (MSc and BSc, Interfaculty Individual Studies in Mathematical and Natural Science, Warsaw University, Poland) and computer science (BEng, Polish-Japanese Institute of Information Technology, Warsaw, Poland).

My previous research projects include the degradation processes of lakes (Warsaw University, Poland, 2003) and wetlands (University of Waterloo, Canada, 2005), surface water-groundwater interactions in complex geological and geomorphological settings (National Foundation for Environmental Protection, Poland, 2002-2008; Warsaw University, Poland, 2003-2005), environmental and anthropogenic impacts on inland aquatic ecosystems (National Foundation for Environmental Protection, Poland, 2004-2008), dissemination of spatial environmental data and metadata (Environment Information Centre UNEP/GRID Warsaw, 2006), use of fluorescence spectroscopy in freshwater organic matter characterisation in drinking water treatment (University of Birmingham, UK, 2006-2009), land use impact on aquatic systems (University of Birmingham, UK, 2009), and in characterisation of percolation waters in karst (University of Birmingham, UK, 2008-2009). 

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