Professor Robert Newton


I joined the School as a Research Assistant after my MSc in Geochemistry in 1993 and worked on a wide range of geochemical projects. Whilst working in the School I completed a PhD part time between 1996 and 2001 in sedimentary and isotope geochemistry using Jurassic case studies (the early Toarcian and the Kimmeridge Clay). I was made a Research Fellow in 2001 and a Senior Research Fellow in 2005 before being promoted to Associate Professor in 2015 and Professor in 2024


  • Manager of the Stable Isotope Lab

Research interests

I'm particularly interested in changes in redox active elements over both short and long time scales and the ways that these changes are recorded in sediments. My main research tools are stable isotopes (S, C, N, O in oxyanions such as SO4, PO4 and NO3), the sedimentary geochemistry of carbon, sulphur, iron and phosphorous and their relationship to ancient water column oxygenation. In particular I have spent much of the last few years developing the use of sulphur and oxygen isotopes in carbonate associated sulphate to track changes in the global sulphur cycle. My research has four main themes:

  1. Changes in marine and atmosphere chemistry during biological events such as mass extinctions.
  2. The long term evolution of ocean chemistry (particularly sulphate), and the way that this interacts with global cycles of other elements and biological evolution.
  3. Chemical and isotopic gradients in epeiric seas and the way that these can influence our view of both long and short term global changes in marine and atmosphere chemistry, as well as how they may influence the biogeochemical cycling of elements in their own right.
  4. The oxygen isotope composition of oxyanions and cellulose.

I have also enjoyed being involved in work in isotope ecology and so would also welcome approaches for collaboration in this area.

Please get in touch to discuss current opportunities to collaborate and come and work at Leeds if you're interested in any of the above or related topics.

<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, The Characterisation of Depositional Environments Using Fe, S and C Geochemistry
  • MSc, Geochemistry
  • BSc (Hons), Geology & Geography

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Geological Society of London
  • Member of the European Association of Geochemistry

Student education

My teaching has three main strands:

  • 3rd year modules on the Geological Science and Environmental Science degrees relating to geochemistry and Earth history
  • Field teaching of Environmental Geochemistry on the Environmental Science degree
  • 1st and 2nd year academic tutorials for Geological Science students

Research groups and institutes

  • Earth Surface Science Institute
  • Palaeo@Leeds
  • Cohen Geochemistry

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>