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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 and lead the Environmental Processes and Impacts research group. My expertise is in modelling pollution of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, having worked for more than 25 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 90 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 media coverage worldwide including BBC, Washington Post, CNN, Le Figaro, El Pais and hundreds of other national newspapers around the World.


Research Interests

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.



I graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a First Class Honours degree in Astrophysics, then took a year out to work on environmental projects in Tanzania. I followed this with an MSc in Soil and Water Engineering 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 Portsmouth University as Reader in Environmental Physics in 2007 then in 2011 became Professor of Environmental Science. 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.


Media Availability

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.


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