I have a background in a wide range of soil and environmental topics, and in the modelling of complex environmental system. I have qualifications in a range of subjects, and have worked for several years in Aberdeen at the University and the James Hutton Institute. I have over 50 publications including refereed papers, conference proceedings, technical reports and popular articles. I also have expertise in soil modelling, land cover mapping, remote sensing interpretation, environmental modelling, soil formation, land use and land use change, artificial intelligence and computer programming. I have an intimate knowledge of the Scottish landscape, and of the data held at the James Hutton Institute which describes it.

A key aspect of my work is the development of novel modelling and classification methods and software packages that utilise spatial remote sensing and environmental data in a wide range of environmental applications. This includes the development, with other staff members, or mobile phone apps for environmental monitoring in real-time.

The 'Related Content' links at the side of the page will take you to projects that I am involved in.


Prior to appointment


  • Aitkenhead, M.; Hewison, R. (2022) Official Handbook of the International Soil Judging Contest, July 27-31, 2022, Printed material used for teaching, shared online.
  • Aitkenhead, M. (2022) Digital tools for assessing soil organic carbon at farm and regional scale, In: Rumpel, C. (ed.). Understanding and fostering soil carbon sequestration. Burleigh Dodds Series in Agricultural Science. Cambridge: Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, Chapter 14, pp 395-420
  • Williams, D.; Aitkenhead, M.; Karley, A.J.; Graham, J.; Jones, H.G. (2018) Use of imaging technologies for high throughput phenotyping, In: Graham, J. & Brennan, R. (eds.) Raspberry: Breeding, Challenges and Advances. Springer International Publishing, Cham, 145-158
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Donnelly, D.; Coull, M.C.; Gwatkin, R. (2016) Estimating soil properties with a mobile phone., In: Hartemink, A., Minasny, B. (eds) Digital Soil Morphometrics. Progress in Soil Science. Springer, pp. 89-110
  • Lilly, A.; Aitkenhead, M.J.; Black, H.I.J. (2014) Assessing carbon in Scottish soils using traditional and novel analytical approaches., In: Arrouays, D., McKenzie, N., Hempel, J., Richer de Forges, A.C. & McBratney, A. (eds.). GlobalSoilMap: Basis of the global spatial soil information system. Proceedings of the 1st GlobalSoilMap Conference, Orleans, France, 7-9 October 2013. CRC Press/Balkema, Leiden, pp287-290.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Richards, M. (2005) The Ordersort algorithm., C++ User’s Journal, September 2005, p6-12.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Aalders, I.H. (2005) A framework for developing environmental models, In: MODSIM 2005 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (eds. A. Zerger and R.M. Argent). Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, December 2005, pp587-593.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J. (2005) Evolving an autonomous neural network., In: MODSIM 2005 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (eds. A. Zerger and R.M. Argent). Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, December 2005, pp587-593.


  • Aitkenhead, M.; Robb, C.; Macfarlane, F.; Coull, M.; Miller, D.; Wardell-Johnson, D.; Tavana, M.; Matthews, K. (2024) Updating Peatland Condition Mapping: Building a new baseline for peatland conditions in Scotland, Online – Story Map
  • Matthews, K.; Blackstock, K.L.; Wardell-Johnson, D.H.; Miller, D.G.; Tavana, M.; Thomson, S.; Moxey, A.; Neilson, R.; Baggaley, N.; Giles, M.; Karley, A.; Loades, K.; Paterson, E.; Pakeman, R.; Hawes, C.; Stockan, J.; Stutter, M.; Addy, S.; Wilkinson, M.E.; Juarez-Bourke, A.; Waylen, K.A.; Rivington, M.; Aitkenhead, M.J.; Coull, M.C. (2023) Synthesis Report: Screening Enhanced Conditionality Measures, An output of RESAS commissioned project Supporting
    Scotland’s Land Use Transformations (JHI-C3-1),59pp, Published online
  • Matthews, K.; Miller, D.; Wardell-Johnson, D.; Gandossi, G.; Aitkenhead, M.; Artz, R. (2023) Farm Payments and Peatlands Analysis Phase 1 Report (2023 Revision), Published via Land Use Transformations website, 26pp, Online
  • Aitkenhead, M.; Coull, M.; Fielding, D.; Gagkas, Z.; Jabloun, M.; Lambe, S.; Lozada-Ellison, L.; Macfarlane, F.; McKeen, M.; Sideris, K.; Sozanska-Stanton, G. (2023) Restoration prioritisation in Northern Ireland, A report prepared by James Hutton Institute for Ulster Wildlife and Northern Ireland Environment Agency
  • Aitkenhead, M.; Rivington, M.; Coull, M.; Gagkas, Z. (2023) Identification and Assessment of Data Deliverable D14a for the Project D52 Climate Change Impacts on Natural Capital, RESAS project report uploaded to ResearchFish and sent to Peter Phillips and Michael Cairns.
  • Rivington, M.; Jabloun, M.; Gimona, A.; Martino, S.; Aitkenhead, M.; Glendell, M.; Gagkas, Z. (2023) Climate Extremes in Scotland. Deliverable D2.1b for the Project D5-2 Climate Change Impacts on Natural Capital, Zenodo, 10.5281/zenodo.7699842.
  • Gagkas, Z.; Rivington, M.; Pakeman, R.; Aitkenhead, M.; Gimona, A. (2023) Habitat Data layer for Natural Capital assessments, Deliverable 23a for the Project D52 Climate Change Impacts on Natural Capital, Report submitted to RESAS.
  • Gagkas, Z.; Rivington, M.; Pakeman, R.; Aitkenhead, M.; Gimona, A. (2023) Habitat Data layer for Natural Capital assessments Deliverable 23a for the Project D52 Climate Change Impacts on Natural Capital , RESAS deliverable.
  • Hewison, R. L.; Aitkenhead, M. (2022) International Union of Soil Sciences World Congress 2022 Soil Judging Competition Stirling 26-31 July Summary of Soil Profiles, Article/data/site maps shared Google drive site with permissions access for participants and their supervisors/event organisers.
  • Matthews, K.; Waylen, K.; Blackstock, K.; Aitkenhead, M.; Castellazzi, M.; Miller, D. (2022) Briefing on Quantitative Story Telling for the Land Use Transformations Project (JHIC31), Project Deliverable (D2), 11pp, Online.
  • Matthews, K.; Blackstock, K.; Miller, D.; Wardell-Johnson, D.; Gandossi, G.; Sutherland, L.; Juarez-Bourke, A.; Creaney, R.; Martinat, S.; Nicholson, H.; Gimona, A.; Castellazzi, M.; Wilkins, B.; Aitkenhead, M.; Coull, M.; Parker, T.; Rivington, M.; Udugbezi, E. (2022) State-of-Play Reference Document for Land Use Transformations Project (JHIC31), Project Milestone Report Milestone 10, Online, 21pp.
  • Aitkenhead, M.; Pakeman, R.; Gagkas, Z.; Rivington, M. (2022) D12 An overview of issues concerning Climate Change Impacts on Scottish Natural Capital , Literature review submitted to RESAS.
  • Aitkenhead, M.; Gagkas, Z.; Pakeman, R.; Nijnik, M.; Gimona, A.; Glendell, M.; Donaldson-Selby, G.; McKeen, M.; Donnelly, D.; Jabloun, M.; Lozada-Ellison, L.; Salt, D.; Sideris, K.; Udugbezi, E. (2022) D52 Deliverable D11 Risk and Opportunities Assessment Framework Scope, Concepts and Structure, Technical report submitted to RESAS.
  • Aitkenhead, M. (2022) Kinkell Farm soil report, Report submitted to farm and research funder through Robert Crow in JHL.
  • Aitkenhead, M.; McKeen, M.; Sideris, K.; Rees, N.; Gurd, J.; Hague, A.; Artz, R. (2022) Accelerating Peatland Restoration in Northern Ireland, Submitted directly to Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
  • Miller, D.; Aitkenhead, M.; Artz, R.R.E.; Baggaley, N.; Black, H.; Iannetta, P.; Irvine, K.; Lilly, A.; Matthews, K.; Miller, D.; Nijnik, M.; Lopez, D.; Wardell-Johnson, D. (2022) Perth and Kinross Council Carbon Sequestration Study, Contract report to Perth and Kinross Council.
  • Aitkenhead, M.; Castellazzi, M.; McKeen, M.; Hare, M.; Artz, R.; Reed, M. (2021) Peatland restoration and potential emissions savings on agricultural land: an evidence assessment, ClimateXChange.
  • Burgess, P.; Sanders, D.; Keay, C.; Hannan, J.; Aitkenhead, M.; Rivington, M. (2021) Exploring the effects on UK food security and land use of four scenarios describing socioeconomic responses to COVID19, Online.
  • Rivington, M.; Duckett, D.; Iannetta, P.; Hawes, C.; Begg, G.; Polhill, G.; Loades, K.; Newton, A.; Aitkenhead, M.; Lozada-Ellison, L.; Neilson, R.; Gandossi, G.; Stewart, D.; Wardell-Johnson, D.; Udugbezi, E.; Lorenzo-Arribas, A.; Benton, T.; King, R., Burgess, P. (2021) An overview assessment of the COVID19 pandemic on the UK food and nutrition security, Online.
  • Rivington, M.; King, R.; Duckett, D.; Iannetta, P.; G. Benton, T.; Burgess, P. J.; Hawes, C.; Wellesley, L.; Polhill, G.; Aitkenhead, M.; Lozada-Ellison, L. M.; Begg, G.; Williams, A. G.; Newton, A.; Lorenzo-Arribas, A.; Neilson, R.; Watts, C. (2021) UK Food and nutrition security during and after the COVID19 pandemic Project Report and Recommendations, The James Hutton Institute.
  • Brewster, A.; Roberts, D.; Grant, E.; Casas, C.; Jorat, E.; Morel, A.; Aitkenhead, M. (2021) Basic silicate rock by-product: a new agricultural input that captures CO2 also known as ‘Rock on Soils’., Knowledge Transfer Innovation Fund, Report to Scottish Government, 67pp.
  • Neilson, R.; Lilly, A.; Aitkenhead, M.; Artz, R.R.E.; Baggaley, N.; Giles, M.E.; Holland, J.; Loades, K.; Ovando Pol, P.; Rivington, M.; Roberts, M.; Yeluripati, J. (2020) Measuring the vulnerability of Scottish soils to a changing climate., ClimateXChange Report, 42pp.
  • Aitkenhead, M.; Waylen, K.A.; Compagnucci, A.; Rivington, M.; Gimona, A. (2019) Extreme climate change scenarios for Scotland: Workshop report., Report for SEFARI Gateway, 20pp.
  • Evans, C.; Artz, R.R.E.; Moxley, J.; Smyth, M.A.; Taylor, E.; Archer, N.; Burden, A.; Williamson, J.; Donnelly, D.; Aitkenhead, M.; Thomson, A.; Buys, G.; Malcolm, H.; Wilson, D.; Renou-Wilson, F. (2019) Implementation of an emissions inventory for UK peatlands., Report to the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor, 88pp.
  • Artz, R.R.E.; Donaldson-Selby, G.; Poggio, L.; Donnelly, D.; Aitkenhead, M.J. (2017) Comparison of remote sensing approaches for detection of peatland drainage in Scotland., Report for CxC website.
  • Taylor, E.; Smyth, M-A.; Artz, R.R.E.; Donnelly, D.; Aitkenhead, M.; Evans, C.; Moxley, J.; Archer, N.J. (2017) Activity data for drainage and rewetting of organic soils 1990-2013., Report to the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Work package 4 Project report, not for external publication), 37pp.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J. (2017) Linking peatland restoration project data to a model of peat depth and condition: Acquisition and integration of restoration project data with spatial covariates., Internal RESAS Report on Dataset Generation.
  • Aitkenhead, M.; Poggio, L.; Donaldson-Selby, G.; Gimona, A.; Artz, R.R.E. (2016) Detection of peatland drainage with remote sensing – a scoping study., Technical Report to CxC Directorate.
  • Hallett, P.; Hall, R.; Lilly, A.; Baggaley, N.; Crooks, B.; Ball, B.; Raffan, A.; Braun, H.; Russell, T.; Aitkenhead, M.J.; Riach, D.; Rowan, J.; Long, A. (2016) Effect of soil structure and field drainage on water quality and flood risk., CREW Report, CRW 2014_03, 34pp.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Black, H.I.J.; Squire, G.; McLeod, K.; Hastings, E.; Troldborg, M.; Aalders, I.H.; Towers, W.; Lilly, A.; Brown, I.; Coull, M.C.; Castellazzi, M.; Matthews, K.B.; Baggaley, N.J. (2016) A review of ecosystem service mapping within Scottish Government RESAS-funded research., Report for Scottish Government.

Conference papers

  • Khan, A.; Aitkenhead, M. (2023) Highresolution Digital Soil Mapping at Finzean Estate, Presentation at SAGES Annual Science Conference, 16 May 2023, University of Aberdeen
  • Pérez-Fernández, E.; Aitkenhead, M.; Shand, C.A.; Robertson, A.H.J. (2017) On using the precise sensor., Proceedings of the 11th European Conference in Precision Agriculture, John McIntyre Centre, Edinburgh, 16-20 July 2017. Presentation 17 July 2017.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Cameron, C.; Gaskin, G.; Choisy, B.; Coull, M.C.; Black, H.I.J.; Robertson, A.H.J. (2016) The Scottish way – getting results in soil spectroscopy without spending money., European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2016 (EGU 2016), Vienna, Austria, 17-22 April 2016. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 18, EGU2016-162.
  • Lilly, A.; Hallet, P.; Hall, R.; Russell, T.; Raffan, A.; Long, A.; Aitkenhead, M.; Baggaley, N.; Troldborg, M.; Crooks, B.; Ball, B. (2016) Are Scotland’s soils physically degrading?, SRUC SEPA Conference, What Future for our Farming Systems? Environmental Challenges and Integrated Solutions, Radisson Blu Hotel, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, 1-2 March 2016.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Saunders, M.; Yeluripati, J.B.; Bell, J. (2014) A digital soil mapping neural network approach for peat depth mapping in Scotland., EGU General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, 27 April – 2 May 2014.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Coull, M.C.; Robertson, A.J.H. (2013) Prediction of soil properties with NIR data and site descriptors using preprocessing and neural networks., International Workshop, Soil Spectroscopy: the present and future of Soil Monitoring, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy, 4-6 December 2013.
  • Aitkenhead, M.; Donnelly, D.; Coull, M.; Black, H.I.A. (2013) E-SMART: Environmental Sensing for Monitoring and Advising in Real-Time., In: Hrebicek, J., Schimak, G., Kubasek, M. & Rizzoli A.E. (eds.). Environmental Software Systems: Fostering Information Sharing, 10th IFIP WG 5.11 International Symposium on Environmental Software Systems (ISESS), Springer, 413, 129-142.
  • Gimona, A.; Poggio, L.; Aalders, I.H.; Aitkenhead, M.J. (2012) The impacts of TER image compression on classification of synthetic PROBA-V images., 32nd EARSeL Symposium “Advances in Geosciences”, Mykonos, Greece, May 2012.
  • Artz, R.R.E.; Donnelly, D.; Chapman, S.J.; Aitkenhead, M.; Cummins, R.; Smith, J.; Smith, P.; Bain, C.; Coupar, A. (2012) WISE peatland choices – a GIS based tool to prioritise restoration opportunities on the peatlands of Scotland., 14th International Peat Congress, “Peatlands in Balance”, Stockholm, Sweden, 3-8 June 2012.
  • Artz, R.R.E.; Donnelly, D.; Chapman, S.J.; Towers, W.; Aitkenhead, M.; Andersen, R.; Coupar, A.; Bain, C.; Hughes J. (2012) WISE peatland choices – a scoping tool for the prioritisation of restoration needs of peatlands in Scotland., British Ecological Society Joint BES and IUCN UK Symposium, Bangor University, Wales, 26-28 June 2012.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Black, H.I.J. (2011) Exploring potential contributions of soil microbes to Martian terraforming through soil simulation., CAREX Conference on Life in Extreme Environments, Dublin, October 2011.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Foereid, B.; Smith, J.U.; Smith, P. (2006) ECOSSE – a globally applicable model of carbon and nitrogen dynamics in soil?, Reduced Nitrogen in Ecology and the Environment, Obergurgl, Austria, October 2006.
  • Birnie, R.V.B.; Aitkenhead, M.; Lumsdon, P.; Miller, D.R.; Towers, W.; Wright, G.G.; Gill, M. (2005) The changing role of remote sensing for land resource assessment in scotland: lessons for the future., Proceedings of Annual Conference of Remote Sensing and Photogrammetric Society.
  • Birnie, R.V.B.; Aitkenhead, M.; Lumsdon, P.; Miller, D.R.; Towers, W.; Wright, G.G.; Gill, M. (2004) The changing role of remote sensing for land resource assessment in Scotland: lessons for the future., Proceedings of Annual Conference of Remote Sensing and Photogrammetric Society. Published on cd-rom.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Wright, G.G. (2004) Mapping land use in NE Scotland with neural networks from remote sensing imagery., RSPSoc. Conference, Aberdeen, 2004.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J. (2004) Environmental pattern recognition and prediction using evolved neural networks., International Conference on Artificial Intelligence 2004 (IC-AI ’04), Volume, pp188-194.

Conference posters

  • Rivington, M.; Aitkenhead, M.; Gagkas, Z. (2022) Climate Change Impacts on Natural Capital Developing a new risk and opportunities assessment framework, Scotland’s Plant Health Conference 2022, 1 June 2022, Dundee.
  • Rivington, M.; Aitkenhead, M.; Gagkas, Z.; Nijnik, M.; Gimona, A.; Martino, S. (2022) Climate Change impacts on Natural Capital Value, 4th Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) Europe Conference, 10-14 October 2022, Heraklion.
  • Poggio, L.; Artz, R.R.E.; Donaldson-Selby, G.; Aitkenhead, M.; Donnelly, D.; Gimona, A. (2017) Peat drainage conditions assessment in Scotland., European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2017 (EGU 2017), Vienna, Austria, 23-28 April 2017. EGU2017-8059 (Poster).
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Donnelly, D.; Loades, K. (2016) PotatoSize poster., Interface 2016 Event, Moredun, 9 November 2016.
  • Rivington, M.: Byg, A.; Black, H.I.B.; Aitkenhead, M.; Novo, P.; Gimona, A. (2016) ALTER: Alternative Carbon Investments in Ecosystems for Poverty Alleviation. Below-ground versus above-ground opportunities for the restoration of ecosystem services., 39th Macaulay Lecture, Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, 13 October 2016.
  • Stutter, M.I.; Aitkenhead, M.; Robertson, J.; Perez-Fernandez, E.; Dupuy, L.; Prashar, A. (2015) Sensing for food and environmental security., Centre of Innovation for Sensing, CENSIS Event, Glasgow, June 2015.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Baggs, L.; Towers, W.; Black, H.I.J. (2015) BSSS and IYS: The British Society of Soil Science in the International Year of Soils., Poster of EGU2015, Vienna, April 2015.
  • Baggaley, N.; Aitkenhead, M.; Poggio, L.; Gimona, A.; Lilly, A. (2014) Comparison of methods to estimate and map the carbon content of Scottish soils, 20th World Congress of Soil Science, Soils Embrace Life and Universe, Jeju, South Korea, 8-13 June 2014. (Poster).
  • Lilly, A.; Aitkenhead, M.J.; Black, H.I.J. (2013) Assessing carbon in Scottish soils using traditional and novel analytical approaches., Proceedings of a Conference on GlobalSoilMap, Orleans, France, 7-9 October 2013.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J. (2012) Posters for Ecological Science Group Review., The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, October 2012.
  • Smith, J.; Gottschalk, P.; Bellarby, J.; Chapman, S.J.; Lilly, A.; Towers, W.; Bell, J.; Coleman, K.; Nayak, D.; Richards, M.; Hillier, J.; Flynn, H.; Wattenbach, M.; Aitkenhead, M.; Yeluripurti, J.; Farmer, J.; Milne, R.; Thomson, A.; Evans, C.; Whitmore, A.; Falloon, P.; Smith, P. (2010) Use of dynamic, process-based models of soil C and N turnover to explore tradeoffs between land use change for agricultural production and carbon sequestration., Abstract for Global Land Project Workshop – Representation of Ecosystem Services in the Modelling of Land Systems, Jurys Inn, Aberdeen, 19-20 March 2010.
  • Aalders, I.H.; Ode, A.; Aitkenhead, M.; Hagerhall, C.; Andersson, L. (2008) Fixed or flexible land cover classification for the analysis of landscape functionality?, IP SENSOR Conference: Impact Assessment of Land Use Change – Multifunctional Land Use, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, 6-9 April 2008.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Lumsdon, P.; Miller, D.R. (2005) Remote sensing-based neural network mapping of tsunami damage in Aceh, Indonesia., RSPSoc, Portsmouth 2005.
  • Aspinall, R.J.; Aalders, I.H.; Aitkenhead, M.J. (2004) Comparison of land cover modelling methods., IGC UK, Glasgow, 2004.
  • McDonald, A.J.S.; Richards, M.L.A.; Standing, D.B.; Mustard, M.J.; Aitkenhead, M.J. (2003) Modelling the impact of heterogeneity in soil nutrients and precision in resource foraging on the persistence of subordinate plants., British Ecological Society Annual Meeting 2003.
  • Aitkenhead, M.J.; Law, A.N.R.; Wright, G.W. (2003) Symolac: a system for modelling land cover., Chapman Conference on Ecosystem Interactions with Land Use Change, Sante Fe, New Mexico, 14-18 June 2003.