Do organic pollutants influence calcium carbonate precipitation?

Aragonite precipitateContaminants of emerging concern (CECs) are pollutants that may cause adverse environmental impacts but are typically not regulated under current environmental laws. Organic CECs are commonly used in food additives, personal care products and pharmaceuticals, have high chemical stability and are usually not removed during conventional waste water treatment. I’ve been awarded a small grant from MASTS to research if these compounds can affect the formation of shells, tests and skeletons by marine calcareous organisms.




24 January 2020 – I’m spending a quiet day playing with the new Cameca 7f in the NERC ion probe facility at the University of Edinburgh. I’m developing boron analysis in some cultured corals stained with calcein. It’s been an interesting day and I’m hopeful that it’s going to work!

PhD studentships for 2020 entry

I am currently advertising 3 PhD studentship projects for the lab:

The Roles of Lipids in Coral Biomineralisation and the Effects of Future Climate Change

This is a project to determine how lipids influence aragonite precipitation and to identify how future climate change will affect the lipid role in tropical corals. The project is co-supervised by  Prof Terry Smith in the School of Chemistry, University of St. Andrews. This project is fully funded by a St Andrews Scholarship from St Leonard’s Postgraduate College and is open to all UK, EU and international students. The closing date is 16 January 2020.


Coral Osteoporosis: how does seawater phosphate affect the calcification of tropical marine corals?

The aims of this project are to identify how orthophosphate affects the formation and structure of the coral skeleton. This mechanistic understanding is needed to improve coral reef management in areas adversely affected by nutrient inputs and eutrophication. This project is co-supervised with Dr Heidi Burdett, Heriot-Watt University and is eligible for NERC funding via the IAPETUS 2 doctoral training partnership. The closing date is 10 January 2020.


How do biomolecules affect calcium carbonate diagenesis and palaeoproxy relationships?

The aims of this project are to investigate how biomolecules affect diagenesis and dissolution of aragonites and calcites and to determine how diagenesis affects the CaCO3 palaeoproxy signatures commonly used to reconstruct past environmental conditions. This project is co-supervised with Dr Stuart Jones, University of Durham and is eligible for NERC funding via the IAPETUS 2 doctoral training partnership. The closing date is 10 January 2020.