Home The Group Research News

Research Interests

Brief History

I obtained my Ph.D. in organic geochemistry from the University of Bristol in 1985, having worked in the Organic Geochemistry Unit under the direction of Professor J.R. Maxwell. In January 1986, I moved to the School of Geology & Geophysics, University of Oklahoma to work with Professor R.P. Philp on the petroleum geochemistry of the Anadarko Basin. The southern hemisphere beckoned and, in April 1988, I moved on to the Department of Applied Chemistry, Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia. Whilst there, I worked with Professor R. Alexander and Professor R.I. Kagi (Centre for Petroleum and Environmental Organic Geochemistry) on the alkylbiphenyl geochemistry of the Canning Basin and the analysis of halocarbon contamination in the potable water supplies of Perth. In December 1989 I returned to the U.K. and, in February 1990, I was offered a BP EMRA by Professor S.J. Rowland in, as it was then, the Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth. We applied a mass balance approach to the early diagenesis of organic matter in offshore Peru sediments and observed the formation of a fraction we called "uncharacterised" on a short time-scale. After completing the EMRA, I stayed in Plymouth and accepted the post of Scientific Officer in the Petroleum and Environmental Geochemistry Group (PEGG). In the summer of 2000 I was offered and accepted a Senior Lectureship in the School of Environmental Sciences, now the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SoGEES). In August 2006, as a result of the implementation of the "National Framework Agreement for the Modernisation of Pay Structures", this was regraded to a Lectureship, although in September 2008 I gained promotion to Senior Lecturer.

I am a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, The Geochemical Society, the British Mass Spectrometry Society and the European Association of Organic Geochemists. Between September 2001 and September 2009 I was on the board of the EAOG as the Membership and Website Officer.

Atmospheric CO2

Teaching and Learning

I teach mainly on the Chemical Sciences Scheme within the Centre for Chemical Sciences, which includes a significant proportion of the organic chemistry in Stage 1 and 2 (theory and practical). In addition, I teach much of the Stage 1 information technology material (including amongst other topics, instruction on software packages, molecular modelling, web resources and web page construction) and in the past have discussed chemoinformatics in a Stage 3 module. I am the module leader for Stage 1 and Stage 2 modules and the Stage 3 chemistry project module. I am the Stage 3 Tutor for the Chemical Sciences Scheme. In January 2004 I became the Programme Manager for the Chemical Sciences Scheme, a post that I held until September 2007. In September 2016 I took over this role again.

On the Environmental Science Scheme, I deliver a short course on three selected anthropogenic persistent organic pollutants (POPs), specifically benzo[a]pyrene, pentabromodiphenyl ether and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, as part of a Stage 1 module. In the past, I have taught part of a Stage 2 chemical and biological oceanography module (I discussed the flux of and processes affecting natural organic matter in the marine environment) and tutored on data analysis and interpretation as part of a Stage 2 research skills module. I was the module leader for the Stage 3 environmental science research project module from September 2008 until June 2016. For the M.Sc. in Applied Marine Sciences I discussed aspects of the flux, budget and fate of POPs, e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDDs and PCDFs).

Recent Publications

My refereed publications since 1996 are listed below (reverse chronological) and my 'My Citations' page from Google Scholar provides additional bibliographic metrics. See also my ORCiD and ResearcherID numbers.


Publications prior to 1996 are given here.


Studentships since 1996:

Dates Student Funding Body Award
2014-2017 W.J. Robson Plymouth University In progress
The polar constituents of petroleum
With Professor S.J. Rowland (Director of Studies)
2012-2015 M.J. Wilde European Research Council and Plymouth University PhD
Department of Chemistry, University of Leicester, U.K.
On the bicyclic acids of petroleum [abstract]
With Professor S.J. Rowland (Director of Studies)
2010-2014 C.H.L. Cree NERC Studentship Ph.D.
Distributions of glycine betaine and the methylamines in coastal waters: Analytical developments and a seasonal study [abstract]
Dr Mark Fitzsimons (Director of Studies), Dr C. Anthony Lewis, Dr Steve Archer (Plymouth Marine Laboratory) and Dr Ruth Airs (Plymouth Marine Laboratory)
2009-2012 D.E.A. Jones University of Plymouth PhD
Plymouth International College, Plymouth, U.K.
Synthesis, fractionation, characterisation and toxicity of naphthenic acids from complex mixtures [abstract]
With Professor S.J. Rowland (Director of Studies)
2003-2006 C.E. West University of Plymouth Scholarhip/Astrazeneca Brixham Environmental Laboratory Ph.D.
Saudi Aramco
The photodegradation of diazepam and its human metabolites in water [abstract]
With Professor S.J. Rowland (Director of Studies)
2002-2005 B.E. Smith University of Plymouth Studentship Ph.D.
bp, U.K.
Naphthenic acids: Synthesis, characterisation and factors influencing environmental fate [abstract]
With Professor S.J. Rowland (Director of Studies)
2000-2003 A.M. Booth NERC Studentship Ph.D.
SINTEF Petroleum Research, Norway
Biodegradation, water solubility and characterisation studies of unresolved complex mixtures (UCMs) of aromatic hydrocarbons [abstract]
With Professor S.J. Rowland
1995-1999 P.A. Sutton University of Plymouth Studentship/NERC Ph.D.
Plymouth University, U.K.
The quantitative isolation of 'insoluble organic matter' (IOM) from sediments and bacteria, and its attempted dissolution using the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride-aluminium (III) chloride [abstract]
With Professor S.J. Rowland (Director of Studies)
1994-1997 H.F. Sturt SERC Case Ph.D.
Woods Hole Ocenaographic Institution, U.S.A.
Molecular characterisation of fluidised catalytic cracker feedstocks using ruthenium tetroxide oxidation: A study of model hydrocarbons [abstract]
With Professor S.J. Rowland (Director of Studies)

Research Income

Income since 1996:

Dates Funding Body and Project Amount
2007-2010 FCO
Analysis of crude oils
(with Professor S.J. Rowland)
2007-2009 Weatherford SLS, Knowledge Transfer Partnership
GC Tracer
(with Professor S.J. Rowland)
2003 NERC
Hydrocarbon humps
2002-2003 NERC
Identification of Aromatic UCM Components of Petroleum Using Semi-Preparative HPLC
2000-2003 NERC
Characterisation and toxicity of petroleum-derived unresolved complex mixtures of hydrocarbons in mussels (M. edulis)
Total Since 2000 = £526,742

International & National Conference and Meeting Presentations

Conference presentations since 1996:

Top of this Page PEGG Home Page Biogeochemistry Research Centre School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, SoGEES