Fay Couceiro

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I supervise MSc research and PhD projects. I welcome enquiries and applications from students wishing to be supervised in PhD projects broadly within the area of pollution studies.

Personal profile


I'm a Professor of Environmental Pollution in the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying at the University of Portsmouth.

I'm an expert in pollution. The primary purpose of my research is to define the sources and fates of pollutants in the environment and develop interventions to prevent or mitigate their impact. I investigate many types of pollution including nutrients, metals, combustion products (from coal, wood, petrol and oil), plastic and organic pollutants.

I work in collaboration with industry partners to work out how to remove pollution from the environment using interventions and new technologies. I’ve worked with a number of companies in the water sector including THA Aquatic, WPL and Southern Water.

I lead the University's Microplastics Research Group which aims to establish the impacts of microplastics on human health and the environment through rigorous scientific research. We wish to engage and galvanise citizens, businesses and policy makers to action through knowledge exchange and creating innovative solutions. As such we have a number of ongoing microplastics projects ranging from air, water and soils, to fauna and humans.

I also lead the "Evaluating change across the plastics lifecycle" research theme for the Revolution Plastics Insitiute. We aim to put research into practice, addressing plastics pollution and generating a globally-relevant community of plastics researchers

I am a Senior Editor for the journal Cambridge Prisms: Plastics and I peer review academic papers for a number of scientific journals including Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science and Environmental Science and Pollution Research. I also acted as reviewer for the EU (Marie Curie research fellowships), various international government funding schemes and been on UKRI NERC panels.


After completing a BSc in Marine Biology from Queen's University Belfast, I gained funding for a biogeochemistry PhD project to determine the significance of intertidal sediments on nutrient dynamics in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. I later moved to the University of Plymouth where I worked as part of an inter-disciplinary team investigating sediment dynamics and associated contaminant transport in estuaries.

I joined the University of Portsmouth as Senior Research Assistant in 2008. I was involved in a number of aquatic post-doctoral projects funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. I became a Senior Research Follow in the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying in 2014. From there I was promoted to Reader in Biogeochemistry and Environmental Pollution in 2021 and Professor of Environmental Pollution in 2023

While my early career focused on identifying pollution, my research now involves engineering solutions to resolve pollution issues. I have substantial experience in method development and experimental design, which facilitated my transition from pure science to civil and environmental engineering.

Throughout my career I’ve been involved in school outreach programmes to promote STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). 

I was the South East regional representative for the UK Research Staff Association for approximately four years until 2018. I was on the external panel to accredit universities in the UK with the European Commission HR Excellence in Research award, an accolade which the University of Portsmouth holds, and I now act as reviewer and panel member on a number of funding calls.

Research Interests

My primary research interests are contaminants, their fate and interventions to mitigate their impact. This includes: 

  • Excess nutrients in aquatic systems and the role of sediments in their availability under differing environmental conditions, particularly climate change
  • Microplastics and their impact on the natural environment and human health
  • Heavy metals
  • Organic pollutants such as pesticides and Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), particularly those released from fossil fuels

I supervise MSc research and PhD projects. I welcome enquiries and applications from students wishing to be supervised in PhD projects broadly within the area of pollution studies.

Media Availability

I am happy to take calls and emails from the media on my research, and am aware of the need to respond to journalists in a timely manner. Please contact Dr Fay Couceiro on either [email protected]  or 02392842399.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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