Professional summary

Research Interests

My study has been the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from vegetation, soil and other natural sources, and their contribution to atmospheric chemistry and air quality.

I am interested in the physiological, ecological and environmental controlling factors of emissions, and interactions between climate change variables and regional VOC emission estimates.

I have also collaborated with soil microbiologists to investigate the role of biogenic VOCs as co-metabolites for persistent pollutants in soils, and I am interested in taking this further.

I have been part of the Data Management team for the ECLAIRE Integrated Project, keeping a broad overview of data management activities associated with the field and experimental measurements, and modelling and up-scaling. As a Data Centre Manager I have taken a leading role in development, use and maintenance of the database for field and laboratory data. 

I have been investigating leaf-level exchange of CO2 and biogenic VOCs from peatland vegetation at Whim Bog, and the canopy scale flux of isoprene and other VOCs using REA, which contributes to ECLAIRE component 3.

Brief CV


21 years of research experience in plant volatile isoprenoids, previously at the Institute of Environmental and Natural Sciences, Lancaster University, the Centre de Recerca Ecològica i Aplicacions Forestals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and CEH Edinburgh.
Organised and participated in field work in eight European countries, and in Hawaii, Colorado, Botswana, China and Borneo (including participation in OP3).
More than 50 publications in high impact journals. World-wide contacts and collaborators. Success in attracting research funding. H-index=21.
A wide range of research, managerial, communications, computing and modelling skills in the fields of atmospheric chemistry, plant physiology and ecology.
Technical expertise and experience with GC-MS. Some experience of Fortran programming in a Lagrangian model for chemistry and transport of pollutants in the atmosphere. Some experience with GIS, R and FME.
Experience of supervising students and small research teams, and organising and executing field-work in the UK and abroad in European and tropical locations.

Previous positions

2004-2007: Marie Curie Training Network Research Fellow, CREAF, Barcelona, Spain, with Professor Josep Penuelas.
2001-2004: Research Fellow, Lancaster University, UK. Quantifying natural volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from a variety of tropical forest canopies in Borneo, and investigating environmental controls for these fluxes.

1999-2001: Postdoctoral Research Associate Lancaster University, UK, with Professor Nick Hewitt.

Publications pre-CEH

Llusia J, Penuelas J, Sardans J, Owen S, Niinemets U. Measurement of volatile terpene emissions in 70 dominant vascular plant species in Hawaii: aliens emit more than natives. Global Ecology and Biogeography 19(6 )   863-874 2010.

Sardans J, Llusia J, Niinemets U, Owen S, Penuelas J. Foliar mono- and sesquiterpene contents in relation to leaf economic spectrum in native and alien species in Oahu (Hawai’i). Journal of Chemical Ecology 36, 210 – 226, 2010.

Penuelas J, Sardans J, Llusia J, Owen S, Carnicer J, Giambelluca T, Rezende E, Waite M, Niinemets U. Faster returns on ‘leaf economics’ and different biogeochemical niche in invasive plant species. Global Change Biology 16, 2171–2185, 2010.

Hewitt CN, MacKenzie A, Di Carlo P, Di Marco C, Dorsey J, Evans M,  Fowler D, Gallagher M,  Hopkins J, Jones C, Langford B, Lee J, Lewis A, Lim S, McQuaid J, Misztal P, Moller S, Monks P, Nemitz E, Oram D, Owen S M, Phillips G, Pugh T, Pyle J, Reeves C, Ryder J, Siong J, Skiba U, Stewart D. Nitrogen management is essential to prevent tropical oil palm plantations from causing ground level ozone pollution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(44),18447–18451, 2009.

Porcar-Castell A, Peñuelas J, Owen SM, Llusià J, Munné-Bosch S, and Bäck J. Leaf carotenoid concentrations and monoterpene emission capacity under acclimation of the light reactions of photosynthesis, Boreal Environment Research, 14, 794-806, 2009

Misztal, P.K.; Cape, J.N.; Langford, B.; Nemitz, E.; Helfter, C.; Owen, S.; Heal, M.R.; Hewitt, C.N.; Fowler, D.. 2009 BVOC fluxes from oil palm canopies in South East Asia. Geophysical Research Abstracts, 11, EGU2009-12061-1. 1, pp.

Nemitz E, Dorsey JR, Flynn MJ, Gallagher MW, Hensen A, Erisman JW, Owen SM, Dämmgen U, and Sutton MA. Aerosol fluxes and particle growth above managed grassland, Biogeosciences Discuss., 6, 341-389, 2009 

McCLoughlin E, Owen SM,  Rhodes A and Semple K. Investigating biogenic volatile organic compounds as a potential stimulator for pollutant degradation by soil microorganisms. Environmental Pollution, 157, 86–94, 2009. 

Asensio D, Owen SM, Llusià J, Peñuelas J. The distribution of volatile isoprenoids in the soil horizons around Pinus halepensis trees. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 40(12) 2937-2947, 2008. 

Wang YF, Owen SM, Li QJ and Penuelas J. Monoterpene emissions from rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) in a changing landscape and climate: Chemical speciation and environmental control. Global Change Biology 13(11) 2270-2282. 2007 

Rhodes AH, Owen SM, Semple KT. (2007) Biodegradation of 2,4-DCP in the presence of volatile organic compounds in soils under different vegetation types. FEMS Microbiology letters 269 (2) 323-330, 2007

Akira Tani, Shungo Kato, Yoshizumi Kajii, Michael Wilkinson, Sue Owen, Nick Hewitt, A proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry based system for determining plant uptake of volatile organic compounds. Atmospheric Environment 41 (8) 1736-1746, 2007
Owen SM, Clarke S, CN Hewitt, K Semple, Biogenic volatile organic compounds as potential carbon sources for soil microflora in soil from the rhizosphere of Populus tremula. FEMS Microbiology Letters 268, 34-39, 2007

Lin C, Owen SM and Penuelas J. Volatile organic compounds in the roots and rhizosphere of Pinus spp.. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 39(4) 951-960, 2007

Owen SM, AR MacKenzie, RGH Bunce, HE Stewart, RG Donovan, G Stark and CN Hewitt, Urban land classification and its uncertainties using principal component and cluster analyses: A case study for the UK West Midlands. Landscape and Urban Planning. 78(4), 311-321, 2006

Wilkinson MJ, Owen SM, Possell M, Hartwell J, Gould P, Hall A, Vickers C and Hewitt CN Circadian control of isoprene emissions from oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). The Plant Journal. 47, 960-968, 2006

Owen SM and J Penuelas. Plant volatile isoprenoids and their opportunistic functions: Response to Pichersky, Sharkey and Gershenzon. Trends in Plant Science 11(9), 423, 2006

Owen SM and J Penuelas. Volatile isoprenoids, a special case of secondary metobolism: Response to Firn and Jones. Trends in Plant Science, 11(3), 113-114, 2006.

Geron C, Owen S, Guenther A, Greenberg J, Rasmussen R, Bai JH, Li QJ and Baker B. Volatile organic compounds from vegetation in southern Yunnan Province, China: Emission rates and some potential regional implications. Atmospheric Environment, 40, 1759-1773, 2006.

Owen SM and J Penuelas, Opportunistic emissions of isoprene and monoterpenes. Trends in Plant Science 10(9), 420 – 426, 2005.

Donovan RG, AR MacKenzie, HE Stewart, SM Owen, and CN Hewitt, Developing an urban tree air quality score (UTAQS). Environmental Science and Technology, 39 (17), 6730 – 6738, 2005.

Emmerson KM, MacKenzie AR, Owen SM, Evans MJ, and Shallcross DE, A Lagrangian model with simple primary and secondary aerosol scheme 1: comparison with UK PM10 data, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 4, 2161-2170, 2004.

Hayward S, A Tani, SM Owen and CN Hewitt, On-line analysis of volatile organic compound emissions from Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), Tree Physiology, 24, 721-728, 2004.

Greenberg, JP. A Guenther, P Harley, P. L Otter, EM Veenendaal, CN Hewitt, AE James, SM Owen, Eddy flux and leaf-level measurements of biogenic VOC emissions from mopane woodland of Botswana, J. Geophys. Res.  108 (D13), art. no. 8466, 2003.

Owen SM, MacKenzie AR, Stewart H, Donovan R, Hewitt CN, Biogenic volatile organic compound flux from the UK West Midlands urban tree canopy, Ecological Applications 13 (4), 927-938, 2003.

Owen SM, P Harley, AB Guenther and CN Hewitt, Light dependent emissions of monoterpenes from selected Mediterranean plant species, Atmospheric Environment, 36 (19), 3147-3159, 2002.

Hayward, S,  CN Hewitt, JH Sartin and SM Owen, Performance characteristics and applications of a proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometer for measuring volatile organic compounds, Environmental Science and Technology, 36 (7), 1554-1560, 2002

Owen SM, C Boissard, CN Hewitt, Volatile organic compounds emitted from 40 Mediterranean plant species, Atmospheric Environment, 35, 5393-5409, 2001.

J Sartin, CJ Halsall, B Davison, S Owen and CN Hewitt, Determination of biogenic volatile organic compounds (C-8-C-16) in the coastal atmosphere at Mace Head, Ireland, Analytica Chimica Acta  428 (1), 61-72, 2001

Owen SM and CN Hewitt, Extrapolating branch enclosure measurements to estimates of regional scale biogenic VOC fluxes in the north-western Mediterranean basin, Journal of Geophysical Research, 105 (D9), 11573-11583, 2000.

Gallagher MW, R Clayborough, KM Beswick, CN Hewitt, S Owen, J Moncrieff, K Pilegaard, Assessment of a relaxed eddy accumulation for measurements of fluxes of biogenic volatile organic compounds: study over arable crops and a mature beech forest, Atmospheric Environment 34 (18) 2887-2899, 2000.

Pompe M, SM Owen, CN Hewitt, H Basa, M Veber, Development of a calibration system for evaluation of losses in a branch enclosure sample system, Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 2 (2) 133-138, 2000.

Simpson D, W Winiwarter, G Borjesson, S Cinderby, A Ferreiro, A Guenther, CN Hewitt, R Janson, MAK Khalil, S Owen, TE Pierce, H Puxbaum, M Shearer, R Steinbrecher, BH Svennson, L Tarrason, and MG Oquist, Inventorying emissions from nature in Europe, Journal of Geophysical Research, 104 (D7) 8113-8152, 1999.

Owen SM, C Boissard, B Hagenlocher, CN Hewitt, Field studies of isoprene emissions from vegetation in the Northwest Mediterranean region, Journal of Geophysical Research, 103, (D19) 25499-25511, 1998.

Owen S, C Boissard, R Street, SC Duckham, O Csiky and CN Hewitt, The BEMA Project: Screening of 18 Mediterranean plant species for volatile organic compound emissions, Atmospheric Environment, 31 (S1), 101-118, 1997.

Street RA, S Owen, SC Duckham, C Boissard and CN Hewitt, The BEMA Project: Effect of habitat and age on variations in emissions from Quercus ilex and Pinus pinea,  Atmospheric Environment, 31 (S1), 89-100, 1997.

Larsen B, T Bomboi-Mingarro, E Brancaleoni, A Calogirou, A Cecinato, C Coeur, I Chatzianestis, M Duane, M Frattoni, J-L Fugit, U Hansen, V Jacob, N Mimikos, T Hoffman, S Owen, R Perez-Pastor, A Reichmann, G Seufert, M Staudt, S Tranos, The BEMA project: Sampling and analysis of terpenes in air: an interlaboratory comparison,  Atmospheric Environment, 31 (S1), 35-49, 1997.


PhD Lancaster University 1998