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Duncan Sweeney

Duncan Sweeney


ORCiD: 0000-0003-4667-6105 | LinkedIn | ResearchGate



Bsc Biological Sciences. I am interested in the field of chemical ecology, how and why organisms respond to chemical signals and cues of other organisms. For my thesis I investigated the effects of light stressed Arabidopsis on soil community composition. Similarly I have carried out investigations on changing production of these compounds by organisms, particularly isoprene and dimethylsulfide.

Current research

My current research during my PhD involves disentangling the effects of drought response in plant-microbe interactions. Investigating the effect of drought stress on plant physiology in terms of chemical compound production and whether this differential production has an effect on the surrounding microbial community in the soil. The project also looks to investigate the effect of these organisms on plant physiology, are microbes being selected for their beneficial effects? If given the ‘ideal’ microbial community under drought stress would a plant be better of physiologically?

Supervisory team

Dr Corinne Whitby
Microbial Ecology research group/Molecular Microbiology group, University of Essex

Dr Tracy Lawson
Plant biotechnology research group/Plant physiology group, University of Essex

Other relevant activities

  • I have carried out a few public outreach teaching programmes where we communicated to the public the essence of our research, how it applies to them and why they should care.
  • Student Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC) member (Course Rep), communicating the needs and worries of the students undertaking the course to heads of departments in meetings to ensure that both the needs of the students and departments are being met.
  • During my undergraduate degree I carried out a lot of voluntary work in the following places:

Plant Physiology Laboratory
Molecular Microbiology Laboratory
Microbial Ecology Laboratory
Paramagnetic Resonance Laboratory
Coral Reef Research Laboratory
Algal Physiology Laboratory

Additionally a few projects have been undertaken by me during my voluntary placements:

Assessing salt marsh recovery success after the installation of gabions to protect salt marsh from erosion
Investigating the effects of stable and fluctuating light regimes on plant physiology and response.
Quantifying the amount of carbon in salt marsh soils both organic and inorganic