Professor Simon Poulton

Professor Simon Poulton


I was originally trained as a geologist, and my research focuses on geochemical and biogeochemical processes in modern sediments and waters, with a view to applying this understanding to ancient environments.

Previous Employment:

  • 2006-2012: Newcastle University, NERC Fellow; Senior Lecturer; Reader; Professor
  • 2005-2006: University of Bristol, NERC Fellow
  • 2002-2005: University of Southern Denmark, Marie Curie Fellow; Assistant Research Professor
  • 1999-2002: University of Leeds, Postdoctoral Research Fellow


  • Distinguished Scientist, Chinese Academy of Sciences President’s International Fellowship Initiative, 2023
  • Geochemistry Fellow, European Association of Geochemistry/Geochemical Society, 2021
  • Bigsby Medal, Geological Society, 2018
  • Robert Berner Lecture, European Association of Geochemistry/Geochemical Society, 2018
  • Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2018-2019) 'Dynamics of the Great Oxidation Event'
  • Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2016-2021) 'Nutrient controls on Earth's oxygenation history'
  • NERC Fellowship (2005-2008) 'Chemical evolution of the Proterozoic biosphere'
  • Marie Curie Fellowship (2002-2004) 'Oceanic phosphorus cycling in modern and ancient metalliferous sediments'

Visiting Positions:

  • Specially Appointed Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, 2024
  • Distinguished Professor, State Key Laboratory for Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), 2019-2023
  • Visiting Scholar, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, 2017
  • Visiting Scholar, Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire des Environnements Continentaux, University of Lorraine, France, 2014
  • Associate of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, USA, 2010-2015
  • Visiting Scholar, Nordic Centre for Earth Evolution, University of Southern Denmark, 2009, 2011, 2013

Research interests

My research can be divided into four main areas:

  • Chemical Evolution of the Earth's Biosphere. A major research interest concerns examining links between atmospheric chemistry, climate change, ocean chemistry and biological evolution throughout Earth's history. Recent focus has been on periods of major transition in terms of the redox chemistry of the Precambrian ocean and links to biological evolution and the evolution of biogeochemical cycles. I am also interested in developing and applying novel paleoredox indicators to understand controls on major periods of environmental change during the Phanerozoic.
  • Nutrient Availability Through Time. I am interested in techniques to quantify the availability of nutrients (e.g. P, N, Mo, Fe, Cu) through time, and evaluation of the impact of changes in nutrient availability on biogeochemical cycles, ocean chemistry and oxygen production. This work involves both chemical speciation and isotopic techniques.
  • Modern Redox Sensitive Environments. A significant proportion of my work focuses on biogeochemical processes and elemental cycling in modern environments in order to aid understanding of ancient environments. A particular focus has been on the operation of the global Fe cycle, with ongoing work aimed at evaluating mineralogical, elemental, isotopic and microbial processes in redox sensitive water bodies and sediments.
  • Experimental Reaction Kinetics and Mechanisms. Experimental determination of reaction kinetics and mechanisms can significantly aid understanding of geochemical and biogeochemical processes in the environment. A variety of techniques are being used, ranging from batch experiments to advanced synchrotron methods, in order to monitor and understand redox-driven reactions and adsorption related to metal oxides and sulfides.

Joining the team: I am always interested in discussing opportunities for talented and motivated people to join our group at the postgraduate or postdoctoral level. Various funding routes are available, including a variety of personal fellowships for postdoctoral researchers, through to an annual competition for NERC Doctoral Training Awards for PhD students.

<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>

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>