Measuring pollution in the air that you breathe
Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London, BSc in Environmental Geology (1991-95). Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys (1984-91)
BSc in Environmental Geology
King's College London
Senior Air Quality Analyst
King’s College London, University of London
Favourite thing to do in my job: Setting up new research trials that attempt to answer questions no-one has ever asked or tried to understand before (and playing with giant machines)
Environmental scientist, dad to two children, dog owner, mountaineer, cyclist, beekeeper, blogger, forager, fan of real ale & much more!
I live in Tunbridge Wells and work at King’s College London in central London. I have two children, aged 11 and 8, a fox-red Labrador called Basil, a cat called Iris, tropical fish and I also have lots of honey bees (but I don’t keep them at home!).
I like doing stuff outdoors like running, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, camping and kayaking. I’m also a scout leader so try to help other children have adventures and create great memories that will stay with them for life!
Hands-on environmental scientist measuring air pollution and emissions in the 'real-world'
Air pollution problems, especially those relating to particulate matter (aerosols), are complex due to the number of sources (e.g. vehicle exhaust and non-exhaust, industry, power generation, domestic fuel burning, construction activities, etc) and atmospheric reactions. The Aerosol Science Team at King’s College London specialises in highly time-resolved measurements of aerosol physical and chemical characteristics, as well as detailed measurements of gas concentrations, to better understand the influence of these sources.
My specialist area is working with the construction and demolition industry to try to better understand their contribution to local air pollution as well as raising awareness and trying to introduce better work practices to reduce the dust and emissions.
Unlike many scientists most of my analytical equipment is out in the field rather than hidden away in a laboratory as we make continual real time measurements of air pollution. More details can be found at www.londonair.org.uk
I manage an award winning project called The London Low Emission Construction Partnership which is funded through the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London (TfL). More details can be found at www.llecp.org.uk
My Typical Day
There is no such thing as a typical day when you are a scientist, I could be anywhere doing anything!
I get up early and walk the dog then travel into London on the train. Sometimes I work in the university buildings analysing data and writing scientific reports and on other days I am dressed up in personal protective equipment (PPE) and will be working on active construction sites measuring the emissions that come out of the huge machines required to build our cities. Occasionally I just have meetings all day and on others I can be giving presentations to groups of up to 150 people at a time making them aware of how their industry impacts the air that we breath and what they can do to help reduce this public health risk.
What I'd do with the prize money
Helping children in London to better understand how to reduce exposure to air pollution both at scool and at home
I’d spend the money developing some interactive online tools especially designed for children to help them better understand the causes of air pollution and how to reduce their exposure to it.
We currently have a number of award winning websites and apps and have worked with schools to better understand how poor air quality affects both lung function and lung development in children in east London (EXHALE Project). It would be great to be able to provide some entertaining (and educational) teaching resources that can be used in the classroom that link back to real data.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Enthusiastic adventurous explorer
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Helping people to understand air pollution, where it comes from and how to reduce your exposure. Helping the government to shape policy that will save thousands of lives
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My earliest memories of learning about the natural world around us was from David Attenborough and he inspired me to study sciences at school, I also had some pretty good teachers!
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I was often told off for chatting and making people laugh during lessons but I still worked hard
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I love being outdoors so maybe something in forestry or working in the national parks as a ranger
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I listen to all sorts of music so this is a hard one, London Grammar is my favourite band at the moment...
What's your favourite food?
I like spicy food so I'm going to say Thai curry
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I've travelled to some amazing places, climbed mountains, explored reefs, oceans and jungles. I once spent a week in the Amazon near the border with Peru looking at wildlife. I found monkeys, alligators, snakes, spiders, dolphins and piranhas!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I'd like to have more time to explore the world
Tell us a joke.
Did you hear about the magic tractor? It drove down a lane and turned into a field.... *groan*