Assoc Prof Charles Warren

“As a kid I was always pulling things apart to see how they operate. Now I get to “pull apart” plants and ecosystems and see what makes them tick.”

Charlie Warren has a bachelors degree from the University of Tasmania and a PhD from the University of Western Australia. After completing a PhD, Charlie jetted off to Canada to work as a postdoc for two years. In 2003 Charlie was lured back to Australia to take up a highly-competitive APD research fellowship at The University of Melbourne. In 2006 Charlie moved to The University of Sydney where he held competitive fellowships for a further nine years (QEII, then Future Fellowship).  Charlie is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

He has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the limitations of photosynthesis and is currently working on a range of projects examining plant-soil interactions and biogeochemistry. For the past decade he has been actively contributing to the debate about limiting steps in the soil N cycle and the role of organic N in plant nutrition. Another branch of his research is examining soil carbon cycling, in particular the microbial response of soil to drying and rewetting. Most recently he has embarked on a challenging new project examining microbial P economics which is aiming to determine how soil microbes can thrive in some of the most P deficient soils on Earth.


Postdoctoral researchers

Dr Orpheus Butler

Orpheus is a terrestrial ecologist and soil scientist with a particular interest in biogeochemistry, global change ecology, and the ecological / evolutionary significance of phosphorus and other rock-derived nutrients.

After completing a PhD in fire ecology at Griffith University in 2018, Orpheus was awarded a Linares-Moynihan postdoctoral fellowship from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama to research the role of soil phosphorus in shaping beetle communities in lowland tropical forests. In 2021 Orpheus joined the plant-soil interactions lab at The University of Sydney as a postdoctoral research associate to investigate the ways in which soil micro-organisms and plants cope with scarcity of phosphorus typical of many Australian soils.


Dr Richard Harwood


  • Chris Donovan: Nutrition of epiphytes
  • Audrey Deheinzelin: Ecophysiology of Acacia

Szczepan Glewicz (PhD): The formation and function of rhizosheaths

Grace Liang (PhD): Phosphorus economics of plants

Shota Matsumura (PhD): Pools and cycling of organic P in soil

Rachel Yamamoto (Hons): Role of microbial C storage in fuelling the Birch effect

Nur Imani Binti Mohd Muzakir (Hons): The role of root traits in rhizosheath development & function in drying soil


Lab visitors (past and present)

David Israel (University of Helsinki): Mesophyll conductance of Arabidopsis

Prof Barbara Hawkins (visiting Prof from University of Victoria): organic N nutrition of plants

Prof Daniel Epron (visiting Prof from Université Henri Poincaré): Interaction between plants and soil

Mercedes Uscola (visiting PhD student from Universidad de Alcalá ): Uptake of amino acids by plants

Javier Cano (PhD student from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, & subsequently Postdoc at Western Sydney University): Ecophysiology of photosynthesis