Lab members

realm team


ColinProfessor Iain Colin Prentice, FRS, leads Prentice Climate Group at the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London and is a co-lead researcher at Macquarie University, Australia. He has held multiple academic and research leadership positions in several countries. His research spans a wide range of topics with particular focus on large scale ecosystem modelling and application of eco-evolutionary optimality theory to ecosystem cycling. More information about Colin’s research and work history can be found under the “Iain Colin Prentice” tab.


Dr Alienor Lavergne. My main research interest is to understand the interactions between the carbon-water cycles and plant physiology in changing climatic conditions. I use stable (carbon and oxygen) isotopes observations as tools for reconstructing past climate variations but also for evaluating process-based models of different complexities. I’m working in both the Prentice’s Climate group at the Life Sciences Department and the Graven’s Carbon Cycle Research group at the Physics Department. I’m also co-organising the weekly Ecology and Evolution seminars at Silwood park. Check out my Twitter account @AlienorLavergne for new scientific inputs.

Dr Rodolfo Nobrega. I’m a civil and environmental engineer with training in hydrology and terrestrial ecosystem modelling. I’m currently working in the REALM project supporting the development of theories of optimal allocation of water, energy, and carbon from ecosystem to global scales.

 Dr Keith Bloomfield is interested in plant eco-physiology and the genetic and environmental sources of variation in leaf traits linked to photosynthesis, respiration and longevity. Within the REALM project he is focused on providing statistical and graphical analyses to help interpret model output.

Dr Catherine Morfopoulos. I am interested in plant physiology, in particular processes related to photosynthesis, and how plant functioning can be affected by climate change. Within the REALM project I am interested to make the link between the modelled mechanisms at the leave level and global remote sensed observations such as NDVI.


Wenjia Cai (Shirley) is a PhD student funded by China Scholarship Council. Her research focuses on carbon allocation in plants and how these processes are influenced by environmental drivers (e.g. precipitation, solar radiation, soil moisture). She investigates the tempo-spatial pattern of carbon uptake by plants by implementing a newly developed GPP model (the ‘P-model’).

Mengmeng Liu is a PhD student (2019-2022) funded by Lee Family Scholarship. She focuses on quantifying Earth system feedbacks using the rapid climate fluctuations in the Dansgaard–Oeschger events. She was a MRes (Research Masters) student (2018-2019) at the Prentice Climate Group and has successfully developed a more rigorous method for palaeoclimate reconstruction, which greatly reduced the compression bias compared to WA-PLS, one of the most widely used method.

Giulia Mengoli with a background in Biology and Ecology focuses on how plants react to and interact with changes in climate and how these interactions can be translated into mathematical models to develop predictive scenarios. She is currently involved in a PhD project at the Imperial College London, that is carried out in collaboration with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) and the University of Reading. Her PhD work centres on the deployment of a new ecosystem model that combines satellite observations with eco-evolutionary optimality theory to predict canopy-level conductance and photosynthesis and improve near-real-time weather forecasting.

Alison Prior. Alison has a background in environmental science, economics and water engineering and is passionate about using high resolution satellite data for improved water and environmental management. Alison has worked for many years in environmental and international development consulting and research roles with ESA, the European Commission and the International Water Management Institute. She is now pursuing her PhD with the aim of developing high resolution global estimates of evapotranspiration based on green vegetation cover using the Prentice Lab’s P Model.

David Sandoval. David is a PhD student in the Life Sciences department at Imperial College. His main research is focused on understanding how complex terrain affects water and carbon fluxes, and how these fluxes and feedbacks shape ecosystems’ emergent functioning and services. With a background in Environmental Sciences and Tropical Ecology his research interests comprise ecophysiology, ecohydrology, remote sensing and land surface modelling.

Huanyuan Zhang. Supervisor: Prof Yadvinder Malhi/Dr Imma Oliveras/Prof Iain Colin Prentice. Topic: Calculate tropical NPP by upscaling empirical findings from plot-level forest inventory to a larger scale.
Huanyuan is a PhD student at the University of Oxford. He was awarded Tang Scholarship by COSF and Henfrey graduate scholarship by St Catherine’s College. His PhD project aims to upscale empirical findings from plot-level forest inventory to larger scale to calculate regional/continental NPP, and to apply and test the principle of evolutionary optimality in enabling this scaling. Huanyuan has special interest in applying mathematical modelling and remote sensing technique in studying the terrestrial carbon cycle. Before coming to Oxford, Huanyuan completed a Bachelor Degree in Environmental science in China and an MRes on Environmental change at Imperial College London. Huanyuan previously worked on the CO2 fertilization effect on terrestrial ecosystem and land carbon sink modelling. Huanyuan is also a keen diver with interest in reef conservation.

Yunke Peng is a PhD student in ETH Zurich, funded by Dr Beni Stocker’s SNF-Project: “On next-generation Modelling of the biosphere-Including New Data streams and optimality approaches”. His PhD project aims to address the nature of nutrient limitation, for understanding and predicting dynamics of global carbon and nutrient cycles based on optimality principles. Before entering into ETH, he was a MRes (Research Masters) student (2018-2019) within the Prentice climate group. Based on first-principles, Yunke has successfully applied a theory of plant function for leaf-trait and productivity along an elevation gradient, as well as a quantitative approach for global climate and nutrient controls of photosynthetic capacity.

Hannah O’Sullivan. I’m a QMEE CDT student interested in modeling tree architecture. Using the functional-structural plant model LIGNUM, the aim of my project is to identify the underlying mechanisms which contribute to individual tree form, and ultimately how this influences the biodiversity and dynamics of whole forests.


Elena Diez Pastor is a MRes student of Ecosystem and Environmental Change with a background in Economics and experience in tropical plantations.  Her research project focuses on the economics of different potential restoration strategies for the Caatinga (a unique neotropical dry forest from Brazil).

Ruijie Ding is a MRes (Research Masters) student studying Ecosystems and Environmental Change. She is interested in understanding how plants react and interact with changes in climate and environment. Her research focuses on plant and soil carbon and nitrogen and their stable isotopes: variations with elevation on the Tibetan plateau.

Maxime Lancelot graduated in environmental engineering from Polytechnique, Paris, France.  I am currently merging the T-model and the Fokker-Planck equation to produce a new model for forest growth.

Rui Ma

Yicheng Shen is an MRes (Research Masters) student working on the relationships among people, climate, vegetation and fire regimes in the Iberian peninsula and also the reconstruction of how these relationships have changed in the Holocene time.

Katy Sillem

Cui Wei. My name is Wei and I am a MRes (Research Masters) student in Ecosystems and Environmental Change. My project is about “what controls the height of trees”.

Jiaze Li is an MRes student studying in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation  Research. She is working on testing niche conservatism in Holarctic tree genera with particular interests in Quercus and Picea. Her previous research focused on confirming ecological correlates of secondary metabolites occurrence in the Family Fabaceae. Jiaze is very curious about biodiversity and interaction in the plant kingdom and hopes to devote herself to plant conservation.


Dr Natalie Sanders. I support the REALM team with data management, publications and communications across multiple platforms. I have a background in Marine Biology having worked in both academia and as a marine consultant managing large EU funded projects.

Natalie 2



Dr Jaideep Joshi is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at IIASA, Vienna, who is doing his secondment with Colin and is visiting the lab from February till April 2020.