Academic biography

Following a PhD at the University of London, Richard was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis and then a lecturer in soil microbiology at the University of California, Berkeley. He arrived at the University of Kent at Canterbury in 1972 as a lecturer in microbiology.  He was appointed Professor of Environmental Microbiology in 1989 and was Head of Department for a period in the 1990s. He was a visiting lecturer at Warwick University and the University of London, Wye College.

Richard served on many British, European and International committees including BBSRC, MAFF, NERC, Society for General Microbiology, Society of Chemical Industry, UK Soil Science Advisory Committee (chairperson), International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, International Union of Soil Science, European COST Actions and USA NSF Coordination Network ‘Enzymes in the Environment’. He has been a member of the Editorial Boards of: Agrochimica, Soil Biology &  Biochemistry  (Chief Editor 1999-2018), Microbial Ecology, Biology and Fertility of Soils, and Soil Science.

Richard’s research interests include: soil and water pollution; bioremediation of contaminated soil; biotreatment of industrial wastes; microbial community activities in biofilms; enzyme regulation and activity in soils and sediments; molecular microbial ecology, and stress responses of soil properties.

In 2004 Richard moved to the University of Queensland, Australia where he was appointed Research Professor. He was also an Adjunct Professor at Griffith University. He collaborated in research programmes with the Universities of Adelaide and both Lincoln and Canterbury in New Zealand.

In 2014 Richard ‘retired’ and moved to the Sunshine Coast where the local university invited him to assist their research and academic staff in writing and publishing papers. He accepted this challenge and for five years was Professor of Academic Communication at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Professor Burns has received a number of honours and awards including: University of Bologna, Italy, Faculty of Agriculture Gold Medal (1991); Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand (2006); Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (2006); Enzymes in the Environment Lifetime Achievement Award (2008); Elsevier Soil Biology & Biochemistry Best Paper Award (2013); and the Soil Science Society of America Francis. E. Clark Distinguished Lectureship in Soil Biology (2016).