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Rob MacKenzie is interested in how plants affect air composition. He is inaugural Director of the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR), which includes the BIFoR Free-Air Carbon Enrichment (FACE) facility, which is the current focus of much of the work in Rob's group. Topics include the effects of elevated CO2 on aboveground and belowground carbon cycling and the coupling of carbon, water, and nutrient cycles.

Rob's group develops atmospheric chemistry models for urban, rural, and remote settings. The group is interested in informing environmental policy-making and in developing tools for urban planners and regulators.

Machine learning is a recurring theme in the group's work in forests and atmospheric chemistry, dating back to the 1990s.

Rob MacKenzie has supervised over 20 PhD students and he is currently Principal Investigator of the Forest Edge Doctoral Scholarship Programme of the Leverhulme Trust.

1994 …2024

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Personal profile

Research interests

I am an atmospheric scientist and experienced manager of very large-scale research facilities: the stratospheric aircraft, Geophysica; and ecosystem manipulation, BIFoR FACE.

My group develops atmospheric chemistry models (e.g. Dai et al., NPJ Clim.Atmos. Sci., 2023,, and applies models to remote and polluted environments (Hewitt et al., PNAS, 2009. ; Hewitt et al., Nature GeoScience, 2011. doi:10.1038/ngeo1271).

A major focus of my research is biosphere-atmosphere interaction, particularly for forests (Bannister et al., Rev. Geophys., 2022. This work is now developed through the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR), of which I am Founding Director, and particularly the BIFoR FACE facility (2017-2026 and, we hope, beyond). Our work is expanding to encompass all forest FACE facilities, especially AmazonFACE.

I am an accomplished inter- and cross-disciplinary researcher, in forests and in urban sustainability (e.g., Hewitt et al., 2019. and lead the strongly interdisciplinary Forest Edge Doctoral Scholarship programme.

Machine Learning is a recurring theme in my research (e.g., Hyde et al., 2017., which is becoming an influential paper in on-the-fly clustering).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Small System Modelling of the Planetary Boundary Layer, University of Essex

1 Oct 198630 Sept 1989

Award Date: 1 Dec 1989

Bachelor of Science, University of Edinburgh

1 Oct 19821 Jul 1986

Award Date: 1 Jul 1986


  • SD Forestry
  • Ecophysiology
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Urban forest
  • QD Chemistry
  • Air quality
  • Atmospheric composition
  • QC Physics
  • climate change
  • aerosol


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