Dr James Levine


I recently joined the School of Environment, University of Leeds, in parallel with continued work as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham. My current interests revolve around opportunities within the built environment to improve urban air quality and related public health outcomes, including but not limited to the use of vegetation to modify local patterns of pollution dispersion.

Following an MSci and PhD in Atmospheric Science at the University of Cambridge (1998-2002, 2004-2007), I spent six years as a Core Atmospheric Chemistry Modeller at the British Antarctic Survey (2007-2013).  There, my research focussed on chemistry-climate interactions driven by past (glacial-interglacial) changes in climate and their knock-on effects on vegetation.

However, growing increasingly interested in contemporary issues of sustainable urban development, I started studying for a BA in Architecture in my free time and ultimately moved to the University of Birmingham to explore interactions between contemporary anthropogenic and biogenic emissions, and their consequences for atmospheric composition downwind of urban centres.

Following a career break to complete the BA in Architecture and spend two years in local architectural practice, I returned to the University of Birmingham in 2018 as a Senior Research Fellow and Built Environment Ambassador for the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research.

Cultivating partnerships over the last six years with public, private and third-sector organisations (e.g., Greater London Authority, AEA Ricardo and Trees for Cities), I’ve led the development of prototype, open-source software enabling urban practitioners to estimate the local air quality impacts of roadside planting via changes in pollution dispersion: the Green Infrastructure for Roadside Air Quality (GI4RAQ) Platform.

With the aid of a Future of UK Treescapes Fellowship, I’ve since integrated the air quality code underpinning the GI4RAQ Platform into open-source Geographic Information System software (QGIS) for urban planning. Local/combined authorities and community forestry organisations alike can now explore, not only what impact might planting this, here, have on local air quality, but also where across this city-region would we expect planting of this sort to deliver greatest benefits?

My air quality interests stretch from outdoors to indoors, my interests in Natural Capital extend from air quality to mitigation of the urban heat island effect and provision of sustainable urban drainage, and my work is as much about stakeholder engagement as it is numerical modelling.

Today, improving air quality and increasing resilience to climate change must be considered in the context of Net Zero. For two years (2020-2022), I was Discovery and Innovation Lead, and Network Manager, for the TRANSITION Clean Air Network – a UK-wide network, including nine universities and over 20 cross-sector partners – working to optimise the air quality and health outcomes of UK land-transport decarbonisation.

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


  • PhD Atmospheric Science (University of Cambridge; 2007)
  • MSci, MA Natural Sciences (University of Cambridge; 2002)
  • BA Architecture (University of Lincoln; 2016)