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Professor Jim Smith

Professor of Environmental Science

Jim Smith


I am currently Professor of Environmental Science in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Portsmouth University. My expertise is in modelling pollution of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, having co-ordinated three multi-national EC projects on the environmental consequences of the Chernobyl accident. I was editor and lead author of a major book on the accident: Chernobyl: Catastrophe and Consequences (Springer: Berlin, 2005) and have 76 papers in the refereed scientific literature. I have carried out a wide range of consultancy work on modelling environmental pollution of aquatic systems from radionuclides to heavy metals and organic chemicals.

My current research interests are the long term environmental consequences of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents, and the transfers of nutrients in river systems.


  • 2011 – Present: Professor of Environmental Science, Portsmouth University.
  • 2007 – 2011: Reader in Environmental Physics, Portsmouth University.
  • 2003 – 2007: Head of River Chemistry, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Dorset Lab.
  • 1993 – 2003: Mathematical Modeller, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Dorset Lab.
  • 1990 – 1993: University of Liverpool, PhD in Applied Mathematics.
  • 1989 – 1990: Cranfield Institute of Technology, MSc in Soil and Water Engineering.
  • 1984 – 1988: University of Edinburgh, BSc (1st Class Hons) in Astrophysics.

Research Interests

My research is primarily into the environmental impacts of pollutants, in particular accidental or routine releases of radioactivity.

My current research interests include:

  • The impact of ionising radiation on organisms at the individual level (genetic/physiological biomarkers) and on the ecosystem as a whole.
  • Deposition and transport of radionuclides following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.
  • Modelling of nutrient transport in rivers and their catchments.

Within the NERC-funded TREE consortium I am working with colleagues in Ukraine and Belarus as well as biologists at Portsmouth (Alex Ford and Karen Thorpe) to study the effects of radiation on aquatic organisms. For example, we want to find out whether fish in lakes contaminated by the Chernobyl accident (including the 22 km2 cooling pond) show any significant effects of radiation damage. I am also working with the Chiba Institute of Technology, Japan, to predict the long term consequences of the Fukushima accident on freshwater systems.

My work on nutrient transport in rivers, in collaboration with Dr. Mike Bowes at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, is investigating practical targets for phosphorus mitigation in rivers to reduce excess algal growth.

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