School of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Photo of Professor Jim Smith

Professor Jim Smith

  • Qualifications: PhD
  • Role Title: Professor of Environmental Science
  • Address: School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Burnaby Building, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth, PO1 3QL
  • Telephone: 023 92 842416
  • Email:
  • Department: Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Faculty: Science


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

Teaching Responsibilities

I currently teach on the following units:

  • Level 1: Quantitative Methods
  • Level 1: Science for Earth Systems
  • Level 2: Energy Resources
  • Level 3: Environmental Audit and Assessment

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.


View all publications on Parade…


Principal Investigator Portsmouth Research Development Fund Impacts of radiation on aquatic organisms in lakes around Chernobyl – a pilot study. 2012-2013 £25k

Co-Investigator NERC and STFC funded Knowledge Transfer Project with Dustscan Ltd. (PI: Dr. Mike Fowler). 2013-2015; £125k

Principal Investigator of Portsmouth work within the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - led TREE project (NERC Radioactivity and the Environment programme). 2013 – 2018; Portsmouth total grant: £460k.


Invited presentation: “Ecological impacts of decommissioning of the Chernobyl Cooling Pond” IAEA Expert Group Meeting, Kiev, Ukraine, 2011.

Invited paper: “ Environmental impacts of the Chernobyl accident” Italian Radiation Protection Association “Chernobyl – 25 years on” conference, Udine, Italy, 2011.

Invited presentation: “FAO Technical meeting on preparedness and response to nuclear and radiological emergencies” UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome, 14-18 Nov 2011.


Academic collaborations include:

Dr Liubov Nagorskaya, National Academy of Sciences, Belarus

Dr Dmitri Gudkov, Institute of Hydrobiology, Ukraine

Dr Alexei Konoplev, TYPHOON, Russia

Dr. Yutaka Kameda, Chiba Institute of Technology, Japan

Dr. Mike Bowes, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

I have carried out consultancy for a range of clients including: Food Standards Agency, Environment Agency, Radioactive Waste Management Directorate, Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

Postgraduate Research Supervised

Kittisak Chaisan: Modelling the deposition and transport of radionuclides following the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Stephanie McCall: Investigating the effect of nutrient concentration, flow and light intensity on benthic biofilm development within UK rivers, using in-stream mesocosms.

Achievement and Recognition

  • Chairman of the UK Coordinating Group on Environmental Radioactivity (2004-date)
  • Lead author of a major new book on the Chernobyl accident: Chernobyl: Catastrophe and Consequences (Springer/Praxis, Berlin, 2005).
  • 76 papers published in refereed scientific journals; > 850 ISI citations; h-index: 20.


  • Member of the International Atomic Energy Agency Chernobyl (IAEA) Expert Group (2004-2006)
  • Member of the IAEA Expert Group on remediation of the Chernobyl cooling pond (2009-date)
  • Chairman of the UK Coordinating Group on Environmental Radioactivity (COGER) (2005-present).