Dr Head joined the Centre for Environmental Policy in April 2008, moving across from Imperial's department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where he was undertaking research into the development of quantitative micro-imaging techniques (laser and electron imaging). A particular focus was on construction materials where enhancing life-time durability helps to reduce the huge demand and consumption of non-renewal natural resources. This in turn brings about many environmental benefits from the lower rate of extraction of raw materials and the associated reduction in toxic emissions to ground water, soils, and atmosphere from their extraction.
Martin has a background in geology and earth and materials sciences, and his passion is for the protection and preservation of the natural environment with a particular focus on soil and the flora and fauna that live in or on the soil. He also has interests in the circular economy to help reduce and eventually eradicate hazardous waste material from being released into the environment where it can cause contamination to land and suffering to animals and plants. This very often leads to reductions in biodiversity and subsequent loss of species.
On joining the CEP, Martin took up the position of Community Support Scientist and Project Manager for the newly created OPAL Soils project. OPAL (OPen Air Laboratories) was a National Lottery funded (~£12m) collection of collaborative research projects, that aimed to engage members of the public in the collection of scientific data, and ran for five years from 2007 to 2012. The OPAL National Soil Centre was one of five research centres that designed and ran national surveys aimed to allow non-professionals and people without scientific backgrounds to participate in environmental data collection.
This was a massive exercise in citizen science and focussed heavily on under-privileged urban areas and schools throughout England, to encourage young people to get out into nature and appreciate the need to protect our environment for all future generations. Martin's primary role was to lead on and coordinate the development of a new Soil and Earthworm Field Guide and associated support material, which formed the core component of the OPAL National Soil Survey, and which went live on March 1st 2009. Details of this ground-breaking project can be found here https://www.imperial.ac.uk/opal-soil/ including publications and policy recommendations made arising from the work.
Following completion of the OPAL projects in January 2012, Martin was appointed to the position of Natural Sciences Teaching Fellow for the three (later four) Natural Science specialist options of the MSc in Environmental Technology. He has also been convenor of the Environmental Analysis and Assessment option (now Environmental Assessment and Management) since joining the department in 2008. His focus is the continued development of the academic syllabus for the natural science options, working with colleagues within the CEP and others from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the School of Public Health, and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change in order to do so. In recognition of his work and contributions to the Master's degree course and teaching-related activities, Martin became a Senior Teaching Fellow in September 2018, following the first meeting of the College's new Learning and Teaching Promotions Panel.
Over the last five years Martin has worked with colleagues on implementing the College-wide curriculum review, focussing on the CEP's primary Master's degree programme - MSc Environmental Technology - to improve how it best delivers educational material to its' students. The culmination of this work was the introduction of two new-look natural science specialist options, comprising of five redesigned learning modules, which were introduced in the academic year starting October 2019.
From October 2022, Martin took up the new departmental position of director of post graduate teaching within the CEP, with specific responsibilities for the MSc Environmental Technology, and to help oversee and manage new taught PG courses as they come on line.
Martin holds a post-graduate certificate in teaching in higher education and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). He chairs the department's MSc and Digital Services committees and was the former chair of the department's Communications Committee. He additionally sits on the CEP's Strategic Executive and research committees. He also sits on faculty committees; the 'Electronic Learning and Implementation Group' (ELIG) and the 'Natural Sciences Education Committee' (NSEC). He is a college Microsoft 365 Champion and represents the CEP as its' ICT liaison officer. He is also a personal tutor to students attending the MSc programme, and was previously (2002-2016) a warden in halls of residence- running a team of people dedicated to looking after the pastoral, social, and welfare needs of up to 180 UG students during their first year at the College.
et al., 2012, Public participation in soil surveys: lessons from a pilot study in England., Environmental Science and Technology, Vol:46, Pages:3687-3696
et al., 2012, Prioritising Soil Quality Assessment through the Screening of Sites: The Use of Publicly Collected Data, Land Degradation and Development
et al., 2011, Open Air Laboratories (OPAL): a community-driven research programme., Environmental Pollution, Vol:159, Pages:2203-2210
et al., 2011, From chemical risk assessment to environmental quality management: the challenge for soil protection., Environmental Science and Technology, Vol:45, Pages:104-110
et al., 2011, An Initial Investigation into the Use of a Flux Chamber Technique to Measure Soil-Atmosphere Gas Exchanges from Application of Biosolids to UK Soils, Applied and Environmental Soil Science, Vol:2011, ISSN:1687-7667, Pages:1-10