Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Sunitha Pangala

Dr Sunitha Pangala

Profile summary

  • Research Staff
  • Post Doctoral Research Associate
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Environment, Earth & Ecosystem Sciences
  • sunitha.pangala

Professional biography

I investigate the capacity for tropical trees to emit soil-produced methane to the atmosphere. My work focusses on two unique ecosystems: Bornean peatswamp forests and Amazonian wetlands. I not only assess if this understudied methane transport pathway can make sizeable contributions to regional and global methane budgets but also investigate the mechanisms responsible for methane transport in trees and insights on controls and variability.  Within the time scales of my post doc, I have so far completed two expeditions in Central Amazon basin and a short study in pristine peatswamp forests of Brunei. Long term monitoring of tree-mediated methane emissions from Bornean trees will commence in early 2015 with an aim to understand the seasonal dynamics of tree mediated methane emissions. 

I am now a recipient of the Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship (2017-2022). 


PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences  (2009 - 2013)

The Open University, Milton Keynes.

Research Project: “Methane emissions from wetland trees: controls and variability”

PhD Supervisors: Dr. Vincent Gauci, Prof. David Gowing & Dr. Edward Hornibrook

My PhD project investigated the role of wetland adapted trees in transporting soil-produced methane to the atmosphere from both tropical and temperate forested wetlands.  The study suggests that trees in tropical and temperate wetlands emit significant quantities of methane, contributing up to 89% to the ecosystem methane flux. Given that, methane is an important greenhouse gas and 60% of the global wetlands are forested, our study underscores the need for the inclusion of methane emissions from trees in global methane budget estimates, in order to accurately predict its responses to changing environment.

MSc by Research in Environmental Geosciences  (2007 – 2008)

School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Research Project: “Mitigation of methane emissions from a constructed wetland”

Supervisors: Dr. Dave Reay & Dr. Kate Heal (School of Geosciences)

My Master's project explored the potential for mitigating methane emissions from constructed wetland using two electron acceptors (ochre, a by-product generated from acid mine drain treatment and gypsum), whilst maintaining their water treatment efficiency. Under in-situ conditions, gypsum did not supress methane emissions but the use of ochre (a waste product which is often landfilled) offered a win-win situation by suppressed methane emissions by upto 70% without altering the water treatment efficiency of the wetland.

Bachelor of Engineering in Environmental Engineering (4 years, Hons)    (2000 – 2004)

Visveswaraiah Technological University, Mysore, India

Final Year Research Project: “Polluted ground water treatment using low cost indigenous media”


Research interests

Biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nitrogen in forested ecosystems, global change and their impacts on carbon and nitrogen cycling, global methane budget, carbon cycling in peatlands and mangroves, microbial ecology, methane cycling within trees, pathways of methane emissions, microbial interactions in soil, tree physiology and forest ecology. 

Meet our Academics

Head and shoulders of male OU academic

In addition to teaching on Open University modules our academics are engaged in ground breaking research that benefits individuals and society.

Request your prospectus

Request a prospectus icon

Explore our qualifications and courses by requesting one of our prospectuses today.

Request prospectus

Are you already an OU student?

Go to StudentHome