Nicole Reilly

University of Warwick


Electroanalytical Chemistry meets Lake Biogeochemistry: pH and Heavy Metal Concentration Monitoring in Lakes with Deep-Water Anoxia


Professor Julie Macpherson Professor Steven Maberly

PhD Summary

The PhD project is an interdisciplinary project between electroanalytical chemistry and lake biogeochemistry. The aim of the project is to develop and deploy an in situ, real time pH and heavy metal sensor to analyse the biogeochemical changes in a seasonally anoxic lake. The aim is to measure both free and total metal ion content allowing for the ‘available’ concentration to be determined relative to the total as the available fraction poses the greatest risk to downstream environments whereas current measurement techniques only allow the total metal ion content.

What inspires you

Every since we learnt about space and that our planet was unique in containing life I’ve been intrigued by our amazing planet. The very fact that there life is amazing let alone being present in the highly varied environments across the planet. I wanted to understand the diversity of environments on the planet from deserts to icecaps and mountains to oceans. As I learnt about the planet, and specifically how humans are influencing the planet the need to understand the natural processes became important to enable us understand the human impacts.

Previous activity

I have just completed a Master of Earth Science degree in Earth and Environmental Science at Cardiff University.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate degree and wanted to pursue the field further. As climate change and the human population continues to increase it’s crucial to understand the responses of the planet and how humans are influencing natural processes.

Why did you choose CENTA?

The CENTA research theme ‘organisms, ‘omics and biogeochemistry’ is the area of earth science I have most enjoyed during my undergraduate degree. The chemical changes that occur in the environment as a result of biological and physical interactions are interesting and can have influences on the entire ecosystem, yet often they are difficult to sample in high resolution so the processes are not well understood. The work placement was also of interest as it is still important to gain work experience whilst studying.

Future plans

Warwick University is well renowned for it’s research and I think the opportunities provided by a world class research institution will give me the skills not only as a researcher but allow network opportunities and practical laboratory and fieldwork skills that could be utilised in a number of industrial and research establishments providing options at the end of the PhD as to whether to pursue an academic research career or an industrial career.