The University of Sydney - Biogeochemistry Group

Dijkstra Laboratory 

Dijkstra Lab

Feike A. Dijkstra

I am a biogeochemist with interest in all aspects of plant-microbial interactions affecting carbon, nutrient, and water cycling in managed and unmanaged systems.


Mohammad Rahmat Ullah

My research is mainly focused on understanding the effects of drought and soil organic amendments on carbon and nutrient mineralization in a grassland of Australia. Moreover, I am interested in examining the relationships between the microbial carbon use efficiency and enzymatic activity that affect soil organic matter decomposition during drying-rewetting cycles.

Bahareh Bicharanloo

I am interested in the effects of management and climate change on soil microbial diversity and their role on resource use efficiency and carbon storage in plant and soil. At the University of Sydney I am examining how nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization affect root C exudation, mycorrhizal infection, microbial carbon use efficiency, and nitrogen mineralization. I also investigate the effects of clipping, N and P fertilization on belowground carbon allocation and nutrient uptake in a grassland.

Junmin Pei

I am a Ph.D. candidate in soil ecology at Fudan University, China, and I am a visiting student in Feike's lab at the University of Sydney. I am interested in plant-soil interactions affecting soil carbon dynamics and its feedback to climate. During my visit, I will study the effects of biochar on carbon use efficiency and its temperature sensitivity.

Md. Rumainul Islam

I am a PhD research student and my research interests focus on understanding the effect of different root substrates on soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition and stabilization in various types of soil. I am mainly focussed on identifying the most sensitive and resistant organic matter (OM) pools, as well as seeking how SOM responses vary at different depths among soil types. I will also examine the root substrates effect on the formation of stable organo-mineral complexes in different soil depths. In general, a novel framework will be investigated to understand the management of root substrates on SOM to illustrate the relationship between carbon stability and mineralogy.

Hana Husain

Soil structure is an important factor for maintaining the functionality and sustainability of soil in the ecosystem. Soil structure can be defined by the stability of soil aggregates against physical, biological or land use changes, while destruction of soil aggregates exposes protected organic C within the soil aggregates leaving them vulnerable for microbial degradation.  Despite the role of soil structure in C sequestration, the interactions between plants and soil microbes (as major players in this process) are not well understood. I will investigate the role of soil microbes (bacteria and fungi) on soil structure and C dynamics, and in return how plants (wheat and barley) interact with these processes. I will use novel stable isotope techniques combined with pot studies in the controlled environment growth chamber facility in Camden.


Xiaoguang Wang

I am a visiting scholar in Feike’s lab at the University of Sydney. I got my Ph.D. from the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Now I am working in Dalian Minzu University in Liaoning Province of China. My research field is focused on plant and soil feedbacks in grasslands, and ecological stoichiometry. During my visit period, I will investigate the responses of plant N recycling and plant competition to N addition and drought stress.

Chunlian Qiao

I am a lecturer from Xinyang Normal University, China. I got my Ph.D. in Plant Ecology from the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences. I am very interested in nutrient cycles in natural and artificial ecosystems. As a visiting scholar at the University of Sydney, I am conducting a growth chamber experiment to investigate the effects of drought on the carbon costs for nutrient uptake and if interspecific competition for water will affect the C cost for plant N uptake.

Ruzhen Wang

I work as an associate professor in the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. During my one-year visit to the Dijkstra Group, I will examine plant C cost of nutrient uptake using 13C, 15N and 32P isotopes. My research is mainly focused on nutrient cycling and distribution traits within soil aggregates in grasslands, and how these properties are controlled by plant and microbial processes under global change scenarios.

Details can be found on website:

Shamim Mia

I am working as a Professor at Patuakhali Science and Technology University, Bangladesh. I received my PhD from the The University of Sydney under the supervision of Associate Professor Feike Dijkstra and Professor Balwant Singh. My PhD research was on biochar focusing on its long-term possible effects on nitrogen and phosphorus dynamics in grasslands. Currently, I am interest in examining nutrient cycling in agricultural systems, biochar mediated changes in nutrient dynamics, recycling of nutrient from biowaste and tailoring climate smart agricultural technologies. As a visiting researcher at Dijkstra’s lab, I will be examining ammonia volatilisation from 15N labelled urea after soil application with chemically oxidized biochars.


Milad Bagheri

I am interested in the crop rotation and ecological factors on agro-biodiversity, resource use efficiency and carbon and nitrogen cycle. I am managing the Biogeochemistry laboratory, including managing the rainout shelter and CliFer experiment, running the TOC analyser, Flow Injection Analyzer and Gas Chromatograph, and overseeing other students and visitors engaged in analytical work.


Kazi Mehnaz, PhD student 2015-2019 (website)

Jinfeng Yang, visiting scientist 2018-2019. Shenyang Agricultural University, Shenyang, China (website)

Jiayu Lu, visiting PhD student 2018-2019. Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China (website)

Paola Corneo, postdoc 2013-2018. Now postdoc at University of Trento, Italy (website).

Shiva Bakhshandeh, PhD student 2015-2018 (website).

Shamim Mia, PhD student 2015-2018. Now A/Prof at Patuakhali Science and Technology University, Bangladesh (website).

Liming Yin, visiting PhD student 2017. Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China (website).

Alberto Canarini, PhD student 2013-2016. Now postdoc at University of Vienna, Austria (website).

Pierre Mariotte, postdoc 2014-2016. Now Scientific Collaborator, Agroscope, Switzerland (website).

Hero Tahaei, research assistant 2012-2016. Now teaching assistant at The University of Sydney (website).

Mathilde Cassani, visiting MS student 2015. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.

Maggie Norton, research assistant 2015. Now at Iowa State University, USA.

Mingzhu He, visiting scientist 2013-2014. Shapotou Desert Research and Experiment Station, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, China (website).

Yolima Carrillo, postdoc 2011-2012. Now senior lecturer at Western Sydney University (website).