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Dr Paul McKenna

Formerly at Lancaster University

Paul McKenna


I am a Business Partnerships Manager for Environment and Sustainability based in the Lancaster Environment Centre. Through this role I identify, develop and support new collaborative research opportunities and partnerships relevant to a broad spectrum of expertise across the university. I also handle relationship management of a number of the university's resident companies.

The role provides support to members of staff considering opportunities for collaborative working and with other partners to exploit new and more diverse income streams for research. I have also provided project management of post-award processes, project reporting and monitoring of major university research collaborations and projects.

Between October 2017 and March 2022 I was Project Manager for the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) RECIRCULATE project. The Lancaster-led project with partners in Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia was one of 37 projects funded under the GCRF Growing Research Capability call. The RECIRCULATE project drove eco-innovation in sub-Saharan Africa around the theme of a safe circular water economy, building on the success of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation through work packages with leads in LEC, LUMS, BLS and Engineering.

Research overview

My research interests began in the development of algorithms for data-based transfer function modelling and their application to environmental time series, but also included the application of mechanistic models as tools for horticultural control design and environmental management. Later research included sophisticated data analysis techniques and devices to monitor air pollution for source apportionment purposes. 

Research Interests

I graduated from Lancaster University with a first class degree in Environmental Science, followed by a PhD entitled “Delta operator modelling, forecasting and control”.

Through my subsequent postdoctoral research projects I employed these data-based mechanistic transfer function modelling tools in a number of different time series applications:

  • Catchment erosion in partially logged tropical rainforest in Malaysia Borneo (Royal Society funded)
  • Mass and energy flows in imperfectly mixed airspaces in animal housing, in collaboration with Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (BBSRC funded)
  • Coordination of ramp metering sites for inter-urban motorways in collaboration with the Intelligent Transportation Systems Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) USA (UK Highways Agency funded)
  • Development of state-dependent parameter estimation algorithms for modelling non-linear stochastic systems (EPSRC funded).

I have also worked on projects developing larger mechanistic models:

  • Optimal control of nitrate accumulation in greenhouse lettuce and other leafy vegetables using the NICOLET model. This post was at the Technion (Israeli Institute of Technology) in Haifa, Israel (EC FP5 funded).
  • Calibrating and evaluating the Phosphorus Indicators Tool (PIT) to estimate phosphorus losses from soils to surface water (Defra funded).

The common thread running through much of my work is the modelling of flows, whether these are flows of eroded sediments or nutrients in catchments, air mass and energy in animal housing, cars on motorways or nitrates in lettuces.

I was involved in the development of new passive air sampling technologies resulting from collaborative research between LEC and the UK Environment Agency.

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