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 80 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:

  • 1st year undergraduate: Quantitative Methods
  • 1st year undergraduate: Science for Earth Systems
  • 2nd year undergraduate: Energy Resources
  • 3rd year undergraduate: Environmental Audit and Assessment


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.


Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

View profile