Professor Jim Smith
Professor of Environmental Science
I am currently Professor of Environmental Science in the School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences at the University of Portsmouth.
My expertise is in modelling pollution of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, having worked for more than 30 years on the environmental consequences of radioactive pollutants in the environment. I was editor and lead author of a major book on the Chernobyl nuclear accident: Chernobyl: Catastrophe and Consequences and have more than 100 papers in the refereed scientific literature.
My current research interests are the long term environmental consequences of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents. I coordinated a project with colleagues in Belarus, the U.S. and Japan to study the recovery of wildlife in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in the decades after the accident, showing that mammal populations are now similar to those in nature reserves in the region. This work attracted global media coverage including BBC, Washington Post, CNN, Le Figaro, El Pais and hundreds of other national newspapers around the world.
As part of this research, I've led the ATOMIK vodka project; a radioactive-free vodka produced from crops in Chernobyl’s abandoned zone. At least 75 per cent of profits from sales of the artisan vodka will go towards wildlife conservation and supporting communities in the affected areas.
My research is primarily into the environmental impacts of pollutants, in particular accidental or routine releases of radioactivity.
I am currently leading a UK-Ukraine project to carry out stakeholder engagement and public communication activities to help the communities still living in radioactively contaminated areas. This work is supporting the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management in improving the lives of people in contaminated areas.
PhD Research Supervision
I welcome enquiries and applications from students wishing to be supervised in PhD projects within the area of radiation in the environment.
I graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a First Class Honours degree in Astrophysics. I then took a year out to work on environmental projects in Tanzania. I followed this with an MSc in Soil and Water Engineering at Cranfield Institute of Technology with the aim of becoming an environmental scientist. My Phd was in Applied Maths at Liverpool University studying the transport of radioactivity from the Chernobyl accident in the English Lake District.
My first job was at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology as a Mathematical Modeller, researching radioactivity in the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. I stayed at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology for 13 years, becoming Head of River Chemistry.
I joined the University of Portsmouth as a Reader in Environmental Physics in 2007. I became Professor of Environmental Science in 2011. At Portsmouth I continued my work on the environmental effects of pollutants including developing a new model for phosphorus in rivers (with a colleague at Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) and research on radiation effects on wildlife.
- Energy Resources, for second-year undergraduate students
- Environmental Audit and Assessment, for third-year undergraduate students
I also contribute teaching to the first-year module Science for Earth Systems.
I am happy to take calls and emails from media on my research, and am aware of the need to respond to journalists in a timely manner.
Interested journalists can also contact the University's Media and Communications team for support and advice on all media engagement, including out of hours.