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. the effects of dams on 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. My work has also covered more traditional pollutants such as nutrients in agricultural catchments and I have undertaken a number of projects looking at Catchment Sensitive Farming. I have also studied the impacts of dams on water quality and biology and, in the uplands, the effects of moorland management. Some current projects are listed below:




Funded by EU

2020 – 2022 Removal of microplastics from the environment and ecological impacts.


Using Critical Zone Science to Enhance Soil Fertility in Peri-urban China

Funded by NERC and CSF
2016 - 2020 Occurence and fate of micropollutants in organic amendments, soil and water in peri-urban China. Development of biosensors for micropollutant monitoring.


Sullied Sediments

Funded by EU
2017 - 2020 Investigating the occurence, fate and effects of emerging contaminants in river sediments.


Electron microscopy for studying microplastics in sewer catchments

Funded by University of Leeds
2020 - 2021 Using electron microscopy to determine the occurence and fate of microplastics in sewer networks.

<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

  • Rob Hiscoe: Environmental occurence and fate of microplastics.
  • John Nightingale: Managing emerging contaminants from agriculture.
  • Rachael Osguthorpe: Effects of organic farming on soil quality.
  • Wayne Duffus: Occurence and fate of emerging contaminants in river sediments.
  • Oloyede Adekolurejo: Ecological effects of cyanobacteria toxins.
  • Sarah Letsinger: Occurence and effects of pharmaceuticals in the marine environment.
  • Olatayo Ogunbanwo: Occurence and effects of pharmaceuticals in Nigerian rivers.

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>