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.
From 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 current 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. Additionally, at the beginning of April 2021 Martin has taken over the departmental role of Deputy Head for Teaching.
Over the last two years Martin has worked with colleagues on the College-wide curriculum review, focussing on the CEP's Master's degree course (MSc Environmental Technology) to improve how it best delivers educational material to the course. 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.
Martin also holds a post-graduate certificate in teaching in higher education and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and represents the CEP as an ICT liaison officer. He chairs the department's Communications and Digital Services committees and sits on the faculty committee for electronic learning and implementation (ELIG) and is a college Microsoft 365 Champion! He is 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 1st year UG students (on an annual basis).
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