Dr Robert Bryant

Dr Robert Bryant

Robert Bryant


Associate Professor, College of Engineering


Specialist Subjects: Chemical Process Principles, Particulate Systems, Material & Energy Transport

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My present research interests concern the chemical, physical and biological properties of soil with particular focus on soil hydrophobicity (or water repellency) and the factors which influence its measurement, expression, abatement, destruction and recurrence. This phenomenon influences the delayed onset of water infiltration into affected soils reducing storage capacity and promoting surface run-off and/or evaporation. Recently atomic force microscopy (AFM) has been used to examine the distribution of surface mechanical properties on soil mineral particle surfaces and this has been used to infer the distribution and strength of adhesion of adsorbed organic material on particle specimens drawn from both hydrophilic and hydrophobic soils. It is hoped to extend the range of investigations to examine the extent to which micro-organisms (and their by-products) within soils influence hydrophobicity.
The heating of surface soils as a result of wild fire, or the use of fire as a land management tool, has a variety of interesting effects on soil chemistry leading to a redistribution of hydrophobicity (and changes in its persistence) within the soil column and a potential wide variety of outcomes dependent on subsequent meteorological conditions. A detailed examination of the carbon balance associated with wildfire is also in progress.

Selected publications

  • I Atanassova, S. H Doerr, R Bryant, Changes in organic compound composition in soil following heating to maximum soil water repellency under anoxic conditions, Environmental Chemistry, 2012, 9, 4, [ISSN:1448-2517], [DOI: 10.1071/en11122]
  • Christopher A. E Hamlett, Neil J Shirtcliffe, Glen McHale, Sujung Ahn, Robert Bryant, Stefan H Doerr, Michael I Newton., Effect of Particle Size on Droplet Infiltration into Hydrophobic Porous Media As a Model of Water Repellent Soil, Environmental Science & Technology, 2011, 45, 22, [ISSN:0013-936X1520-5851], [DOI: 10.1021/es202319a]
  • Robert Bryant, Reaction of soil water repellency to artificially induced changes in soil pH, Geoderma, 2010, [DOI: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2010.06.005]
  • C. L Bielders, B Grymonprez, Raindrop Impact: A Neglected but Potentially Major Contributor to Particle Mobilization in Soils, Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2010, 74, 5, [ISSN:1435-0661], [DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2009.0245]
  • Shuying Cheng, Robert Bryant, Stefan H Doerr, Christopher J Wright, P. Rhodri Williams, Investigation of Surface Properties of Soil Particles and Model Materials with Contrasting Hydrophobicity Using Atomic Force Microscopy, Environmental Science & Technology, 2009, 43, 17, [ISSN:0013-936X1520-5851], [DOI: 10.1021/es900158y]
  • R Bryant, S. H Doerr, G Hunt, S Conan, Effects of soil compaction on soil surface water repellency Soil Use and Management, 2007, pp.238-244, [ISBN:1475-2743], [DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.2007.00088.x]
  • Robert Bryant, Effects of heating and post-heating equilibration times on soil water repellency, 2005, pp.261:267, [ISBN:0004-9573], [DOI: 10.1071/SR04092 0004-9573/05/030261]
  • R Bryant, S. H Doerr, M Helbig, Effect of oxygen deprivation on soil hydrophobicity during heating, International Journal of Wildland Fire, 2005, 14, 4, pp.457:474, [ISBN:1049-8001], [ISSN:1049-8001], [DOI: 10.1071/WF05035]
  • R Bryant, No title, 0, [DOI: 10.1021/es02319a]


Research theses supervised


  • 2009 - Strategies for enhanced valorisation of organic wastes (1st Supervisor: Dr Robert Lovitt)
  • 2006 - Soil water repellency: comparison between individual particles and bulk properties (2nd Supervisor: Dr Christopher Wright)


  • 2005 - Evaluation of Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy in the Investigation of Soils. (2nd Supervisor: Professor Stephen Wilks)


  • 2008 - Investigation of the Thermal Characteristics of an Anila Biomass Gassifier Stove
  • 2008 - Characteristics of biochar by experimental methods