Dr Jim McQuaid

Dr Jim McQuaid


Jim joined the School of the Environment in April 2000 from the School of Chemistry in Leeds where he did both his undergraduate and postgraduate studies and some initial postdoctoral work. His research is primarily focused upon observations of the composition of both gas phase and aerosol species in the atmosphere. Over the last 20 years he has participated in a large number of research campaigns both ground-based and airborne including ACSOE, EXPORT, SAFARI2K, NAMBLEX, ITOP, RICO, DABEX/DODO, AMMA, EUCAARI-LONGREX, OP3, VOCALS, AMISA, Fennec, SAMBBA, ICE-ACCACIA and ICE-D. He was extensively involved in the conversion of existing instrumentation (WAS & VACC) and design and development of new instruments (PAN & ORAC) for deployment on the UK 146 atmospheric research aircraft (FAAM). For a long time he also received funding as a NCAS (National Centre for Atmospheric Science) aircraft scientist. Jim is the project atmospheric scientist for the Black and Bloom project which is a major consortium grant funded by NERC to to understand how particles and microorganisms on the surface of the Greenland Icesheet affect it's albedo. More locally, Jim is part of the University's Living Lab for Air Quality which will improve our knowledge of air quality to help shape and inform the university Landscape Strategy and Travel Plan.

Jim is the 2018 Distinguished Lecture for the European Association of Geochemistry. This program aims to introduce and motivate scientists and students located in under-represented regions of the world to emerging research areas in geochemistry. The distinguished lecturer is selected each year based on a combination of outstanding research contributions to geochemistry and the ability to clearly communicate these contributions to a broad audience.



  • Deputy Head of School (Research Funding and Infrastructure)

Research interests

  • Observations of Atmospheric composition & instrumentation
  • Arctic Albedo
  • Ice Nucleating Particles
  • Urban air quality and pollution
  • Biomass burning
  • Tropospheric Ozone
  • Long range transport of pollutants
  • Science communication

Outreach and Media Activities

During September/October 2013, Jim sailed across the US from Cape Canaveral, Florida to the Pacific coast in Monterey, California in a 60-metre-long airship as one of the team for an exciting new BBC series. Operation Cloud Lab: Secrets of the Skies is 'one of television’s most ambitious experiments on the atmosphere' (BBC Press release). He also provided scientific and technical advice to the production team for the programme which was broadcast in July 2014 (Episode1 & Episode2). He has also made clouds as part of Richard Hammond's Wild Weather series and has contributed to BBC iWonder (cloud weighing and perfect sunrise). He is a regular contributor to the weekly Paul Hudson Weathershow which is broadcast across local radio stations in Yorkshire (BBC York/Leeds/Sheffield/Humberside/Lincolnshire).

<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, Studies of tropospheric chemistry in urban and remote areas, University of Leeds
  • MSc, Smog chamber studies of the kinetics of atmospheric oxidation reactions, University of Leeds
  • BSc, Chemical Sciences, University of Leeds
  • Chartered Chemist (RSC)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Member of NERC Peer Review College
  • Member of the European Geosciences Union
  • Member of the American Geophysical Union

Research groups and institutes

  • Atmospheric Chemistry and Aerosols
  • Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science

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="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>