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Getting to know - Luis Lopez-Sangil

Equipped with a PhD in Soil Science, Luis Lopez-Sangil has swapped warmer Barcelona for wetter Wexford but maintains a sunny disposition through his work at Teagasc. Here, we find out more about his work as a Soil Health Research Technologist.

TResearch Summer 2023

Hi Luis! Tell us a bit about where you’re from.

I’m originally from Barcelona, but my family roots are from Lugo in Northwest Spain. So I see myself as a mix of Mediterranean and Atlantic heritage. I’m lucky to have lived in several countries (Spain, Sweden, UK, and now Ireland), trying to learn the best of each society.

What led you to Teagasc?

I graduated with a Biology BSc from the University of Barcelona, where I also did my PhD in Soil Science, with collaborations at Lund University and the University of Exeter. I held postdoctoral positions at the Open University and Lancaster University, before Brexit and the search for better work-life balance brought me to Teagasc Johnstown Castle.

What does your field of work look like?

I’m involved in a range of interdisciplinary research, from physical aspects of soil health to the nitty-gritty of soil biogeochemical cycles. I also survey soils by looking at their features and formation factors, which gives us valuable information about their vulnerabilities and functions. I also fly drones to capture aerial data!

What projects are you currently focused on?

I’ve just finished developing a novel technique at Teagasc to study how minerals protect soil organic matter, which will help us understand which soil types and land practices are better for sequestering carbon. I’m also coordinating the installation of new growth rooms in Johnstown Castle, and seeking to improve drone measurements for research projects.

How does Wexford compare to Barcelona?

I felt immediately at home when I landed in Wexford five years ago. Being a small town makes it easier to engage with people; I love how welcoming the community has been, and have happily settled here with my family. Although sometimes this “sunny” south-east corner of Ireland isn’t that sunny!