Duncan is a University Research Fellow and Professor of Plant and Soil Biology based at the University of Sheffield, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences. Duncan studies the evolution and physiology of symbioses between plant roots and soil microorganisms. He uses a combination of biochemistry and molecular biology to understand how plants and microbes communicate with each other and exchange resources in symbiosis. Duncan is particularly interested in how soil microbes might be used to help make agricultural ecosystems more sustainable.
In addition to his academic research, Duncan is Director of the University of Sheffield's 'Centre of Excellence for Translational Plant and Soil Biology', called P3, where he and his team seek to apply advances in fundamental science to real world agricultural problems. He was recently presented with the World Economic Forum's "Young Scientist Award" for his translational biology research in agriculture.
Duncan has worked closely with scientists from across the globe and in 2013, he co-chaired the Royal Society's Frontiers of Science meeting with the Chinese Academy in Beijing, China; having previously co-organised the Biology Section of the UK-Hong Kong Frontiers of Science meeting at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre at Chicheley Hall in 2011.