Meet the team

We are leading academics, innovative engineers and pioneers

James Brown


5th generation of the family to run The Lapwing Estate group. Qualified Chartered Accountant, MSc International Relations, BSc Economics and Politics, 14 years’ experience at Lapwing. This project is James’s vision and passion in how the global food system can be fixed through disruption.

John Taylor

Farm Director

John has over 25 years’ experience in sustainable farming. John is farming director for all Brown family farms. John is responsible for the paludiculture and land management trials at Pollybell.

Katie Fretwell

Farm Administrator

Katie has 8 years’ experience leading national projects through the management of a field-based team. Expertise in both agile and waterfall project management methodologies and experience of having led a multitude of technical projects across a range of sectors.

Jamie Smith

Project Administrator

After studying Geography at The University of Aberdeen, Jamie joined the team to support the delivery of Phase 1 of Reverse Coal. Jamie has since taken on numerous roles, ranging from Farm Accountant to website designer. He now leads the administrative side of Reverse Coal focused on creating reports and sharing the vision.

Jonathan White

Project Manager

Jonathan manages the engineering, contractual and commercial aspects of Reverse Coal, and is The Project Manager for phase 2. Jonathan is a Chartered Civil Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, with over 25 years’ experience across a broad range of sectors in the UK and abroad, creating innovate engineering and business solutions.

John Booth

R&D Engineer

With 20 years of experience designing and delivering civil and mechanical engineering projects within the UK and abroad. John has provided innovative solutions which balance permitting, environmental and budgetary constraints across a broad range of infrastructure projects, with a particular focus on water management.

Prof Simon Pearson

University of Lincoln

Founding Director of Lincoln Institute of Agri-Food Technology. Simon is a biosystems engineer with a track record in modelling and biosystems energy system design. A recent highlight includes energy system modelling that led to a world leading £14M low carbon glasshouse facility powered by anaerobic digestion and CHP now constructed in the UK.

Prof Duncan Botting

University of Lincoln

Visiting professor, former research director of ABB, sits on the BEIS Smart Systems Forum, works with the Energy Systems Catapult on the BEIS whole systems energy challenge as lead for INCOSE challenge group and is an IET Policy Panel member working with BEIS on offshore carbon/ wind/ hydrogen coordination planning.  

Dr Amir Badiee

University of Lincoln

Amir joined the School of Engineering as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in 2016 to work on a joint project with Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT) on development of a new generation of greenhouse cladding materials. He later moved to LIAT and worked on different agri-tech projects with Professor Simon Pearson. Dr Badiee re-joined the School of Engineering as Senior Lecturer in sustainable energy in 2021. Dr Badiee is active in the fields of material development and characterisation with interests in solar energy materials and alternative fuels.

Dr Aliyu Aliyu

University of Lincoln

Aliyu joined the University of Lincoln as a Senior Lecturer in February 2022. He obtained his PhD from Cranfield University in multiphase pipe flows. Before joining Lincoln, Aliyu was a Research Fellow in Flow Diagnostics at the University of Huddersfield where he led and supervised research student’s and KTP projects in diverse areas of renewable energy and fluid mechanics both computational and experimental such as in valves and wind turbine aerodynamics.

Prof Niall McNamara

UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Expertise in the impacts of climate and land use change on soil carbon dynamics and ecosystem GHG emissions. Niall’s work ranges from ecosystem surveys (greenhouse gas budgets, soil carbon stocks) through to more mechanistic process orientated experiments (hydrology, drought, nutrients, warming). Niall has led UK and International work that has focussed on bioenergy cropping and biochar use. At CEH Lancaster, he is leader of the Plant-Soil Interactions Group.

Prof Chris Evans

UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Over 20 years of peatland research aimed at mitigating the impacts of human activities on GHG emissions and carbon loss. Chris leads ongoing work on lowland agricultural peatlands for Defra and BEIS, and led work to include peatlands in the UK’s national emissions inventory. Chris was a Lead Author two IPCC reports and is a member of the national committee of the Defra Lowland Agricultural Peat Task Force. He leads the £5.5m UKRI-funded Peatland GGR Demonstrator project, which is establishing trial sites for accelerated peatland restoration at Lapwing, in parallel with Reverse Coal. Chris was awarded an MBE in 2020 for services to ecosystem science.

Project partners