Professor Paul Kay

Professor Paul Kay


My research investigates the impacts of land-use on hydrology and water quality. More specifically, I have focused on three main areas:

  1. the occurence, fate and effects of emerging contaminants in the environment
  2. the impact of agriculture on water quality and the effectiveness of stewardship measures, and
  3. sewage pollution of rivers.

I have, thus, worked on a variety of pollutants including microplastics, human and veterinary pharmaceuticals, pesticides, nutrients, DOC and sediment. This work has been funded by a variety of organisations including the European Union, NERC, EPSRC, Defra, the Environment Agency, Natural England and the water industry.


  • Programme Manager MSc River Basin Dynamics and Management
  • Associate Director, Water@Leeds

Research interests

My research investigates the impacts of human activity on water quality and I have foucssed on the occurence, fate and effects of emerging contaminants such as microplastics and pharmaceuticals as well as more traditional pollutants including nutrients and metals. I have mainly looked at agriculture and sewage discharges as sources of these pollutants. Some current projects are listed below:


Molecules to Landscapes


Funded by BBSRC

2022 – 2023



Funded by BBSRC
2022 - 2023 



Funded by Innovate UK
2023 - 2025

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, Hydrology/water quality, Cranfield University
  • BSc (Hons) Geography, University of Northumbria

Professional memberships

  • Chartered Scientist (CSci)
  • Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv)
  • Member of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (MCIWEM).
  • Member of the British Hydrological Society

Student education

PhD Supervision

I would be interested in supervising PhDs on topics such as:

  • Hydrology and water quality
  • Microplastics
  • Emerging contaminants

Current PhD students

  • Beth Adams: Degradation of veterinary medicines in poultry litter.
  • Di Wu: Aquatic effects of microplastics.
  • Linda Chen: Microplastics in soil and effects on plants.
  • Tom Nash: Genotoxic effects of microplastics on Daphnia.
  • Olivia Skilbeck: Degradation of natural and plastic textile fibres in the environment.
  • Rob Hiscoe: Environmental occurence and fate of microplastics.
  • Graeme Shaw: Anthelmintic occurrence and fate on grouse moors.

Research groups and institutes

  • River Basin Processes and Management

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>