Return to homepage Skip to navigation Skip to site search Skip to main content Skip to footer


‘Getting down to Earth’ at Café Science Dundee

19 June 2014

The next instalment of the Café Science Dundee series is set to get down and dirty in an attempt to explain why soil is so vital to life on this planet.

Professor Wilfred Otten from Abertay University will lead the event, entitled ‘Getting down to Earth: a closer look at life below our feet’ at Avery & Co, South Tay Street, from 7pm on Monday, 23rd June.

Professor Otten is Chair of Biophysics of Soil Ecosystems and Co-Director of the SIMBIOS Centre at Abertay.

His main research interest is to advance our understanding of soil science and the role of soil processes in ecosystem functioning.

He explains:

"Soil is alive, with a handful of soil containing billions of microscopic organisms. So it is much more than the dirt that sticks under our shoes or holds up our plants - it is a jungle of living organisms that break down organic matter to make the nutrients available for plant roots.

"These micro-organisms tunnel through soil, optimising water holding capacity, aeration and drainage and compete with harmful organisms in soil that can damage plants. They fulfil essential services - life above the ground is intimately linked to life below the ground.

"So who does what below the ground and why does it matter? What makes soil such a suitable living space? I will be looking at these questions during my talk as well as demonstrating new technologies that enable us to literally look inside soil."

Café Science was launched in January 2008, and has attracted more than 5000 visitors since then. The monthly events are informal discussions led by leading local researchers that allow members of the public the opportunity to learn more about the ground-breaking science at the Universities of Dundee, St Andrews and Abertay, the James Hutton Institute, and Dundee Science Centre.

'Getting down to Earth: a closer look at life below our feet' will take place at Avery & Co, South Tay Street, from 7pm on Monday, June 23. The event is free and open to all. There is no need to book in advance but an early arrival is recommended.

More information is available at

Back to News