Personal profile


Click here for current PhD opportunities in CHE. But feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

I began my career as a biochemist and did a PhD in physical biochemistry at the interface between biochemistry and chemical engineering (both at the University of Bath).  I then spent two years at the Chemical Centre in Lund, Sweden as a Royal Society Travelling Fellow, working in the field of molecular imprinting with Prof. Klaus Mosbach, one of the key innovators in the field.  Following that I returned to the UK and worked at the Institute of Biotechnology in Cambridge, working for 4 years with Prof. Chris Lowe on the development of mass producible chemical sensors based on optical holograms.  I was then appointed to a lectureship in chemistry at UEA in 1999 and have been here ever since, being promoted to Senior lecturer in 2006.

My research revolves around designing custom polymers and materials and applying them to address problems in chemical analysis and drug delivery.  I have also become increasingly focused on environmental analytical problems and in particular the detection of microplastics in a wide variety of samples and a wide range of analytical, technological and societal challenges around this topic.  Further details appear on my research pages.

I am passionate about science communication and in particular outreach and engagement work with schools and the wider public.  I have run annual heats of the RSC Schools’ Analyst Competition at UEA for many years and organised the national final of the event in 2007.  I have also done many polymers, materials, spectroscopy and forensic schools events (both at UEA and in schools) to a variety of different age groups from 5 to 18.  I  serve on the committee of the RSC Analytical Division East Anglia Region, which organises a variety of technical and social meetings for the analytical community.  I have given general interest lectures about microplastics at events such as "Pint of Science", organised a focused event about plastics and plastic waste within the UEA Green film festival, sponsored by the RSC Outreach Fund and took "Microplastic Meltdown", a fun education event for 5-12 year olds to Latitude Festival in July 2022, in association with colleagues from SAW Trust, Cefas and Precious Plastics East.

Selected Publications

Microplastics and nanoplastics in the marine-atmosphere environment
Allen, D., Allen, S., Abbasi, S., Baker, A., Bergmann, M., Brahney, J., Butler, T., Duce, R. A., Eckhardt, S., Evangeliou, N., Jickells, T., Kanakidou, M., Kershaw, P., Laj, P., Levermore, J., Li, D., Liss, P., Liu, K., Mahowald, N., Masque, P. & 13 others, Jun 2022.
Nature Reviews Earth & Environment. 3, 6, p. 393–405 13 p.

A large-scale study of microplastic abundance in sediment cores from the UK continental shelf and slope
Kukkola, A. T., Senior, G., Maes, T., Silburn, B., Bakir, A., Kröger, S. & Mayes, A. G., May 2022.
Marine Pollution Bulletin. 178, 113554.

Microplastic ingestion ubiquitous in marine turtles
Duncan, E. M., Broderick, A. C., Fuller, W. J., Galloway, T. S., Godfrey, M. H., Hamann, M., Limpus, C. J., Lindeque, P. K., Mayes, A. G., Omeyer, L. C. M., Santillo, D., Snape, R. T. E. & Godley, B. J., Feb 2019.
Global Change Biology. 25, 2, p. 744-752 9 p.

A rapid-screening approach to detect and quantify microplastics based on fluorescent tagging with Nile Red
T Maes, R Jessop, N Wellner, K Haupt, AG Mayes.
Scientific Reports 7 (2017) 44501.

Molecularly imprinted polymer coated quantum dots for multiplexed cell targeting and imaging
M Panagiotopoulou, Y Salinas, S Beyazit, S Kunath, L Duma, E Prost, AG Mayes, M Resmini, B Tse Sum Bui, K Haupt. 
Angewandte Chemie 128 (29) (2016), 8384-8388.



  • BSc Biochemistry (Bath) 1987
  • PhD Biochemistry (Bath) 1992  
  • Royal Society Fellow (University of Lund, Sweden) 1992-1994
  • Research Associate (University of Cambridge) 1994-1999
  • Lecturer in Chemistry (university of East Anglia) 1999-2006
  • Senior Lecturing in Chemistry (university of East Anglia) 2006 - 2022
  • Professor of Analytical and Materials Chemistry (University of East Anglia) 2022-

Key Research Interests

Over the last few years the Mayes group has increasingly focused on developing new analytical approaches to address measurement problems in environmental and marine science,  in association with Cefas and other external partners. We have  developed visual colourimetric sensors for sediment pH but our main focus is now on microplastics and their identification and quantitation.  This is a topic of rapidly increasing concern and importance.  In association with collaborators at Cefas, we developed a new high-throughput measurement technique for counting microplastic particles, based on tagging particles with fluorescent Nile Red dye, which is rapidly making an impact in the field.  We are working on a number of enhancements and related strategies to improve particle identification and work in challenging samples.  We were instrumental in founding of the Malaysian Microplastics Network, providing equipment and training and working with them to build capacity and capability.  We have continued our involvement in SE Asia through collaboration with other groups in Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, with the aim of spreading best practice, unifying techniques and developing a set of guidelines for environmental assessment in the region.

We have also been very active in working with the media to highlight "hidden plastics" in common consumer products such as bottled water, tea bags and wet wipes.  We have made contributions to "News at 10", "Victoria Derbyshire", War on Plastic (BBC) and "Save Money on your Supermarket Shop (CH 5), as well as many radio, print media and social media contributions, resulting in two UEA Impact awards (2019/2021).

Teaching Interests

I teach a variety of topics at all levels from year 1 to masters, mostly involving analytical and materials chemistry.  I was heavily involved in setting up the new School of Pharmacy at UEA and taught analytical chemistry to pharmacy students for a number of years.  I then contributed to the development of forensic chemistry at UEA and particularly focused on analytical techniques and materials relevant to examination of physical trace evidence, which was taught through a combination of lectures and small group hands-on “casework” sessions. Some of this material and approach has been transferred into our current modules at level 6 and 7, but returning to more mainstream techniques and topics.

Administrative Posts

  • Chemistry Director of Employability
  • Chemistry School Executive
  • Learning and Teaching
  • Athena Swan
  • Chair of the Industrial Liaison Panel
  • Member of the CAP Safety Committee
  • School Radiation Protection Officer
  • Member of University Radiation Protection Committee
  • Module Organiser for Topics in Analytical Chemistry (Level 6)
  • Module Organiser for Advanced Topics in Analytical Chemistry (Level 7)


  • Chemistry
  • Polymer chemistry
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Molecular imprinting
  • Hydrogels
  • Microparticles
  • Nanoparticles
  • Drug delivery
  • Magnetic hyperthermia
  • Chemical sensors
  • High temperature chromatography
  • Nanoparticle coatings
  • Separation science
  • Nanoparticle synthesis/characterisation
  • Chemical sensor development
  • Polymer microparticles
  • Polymer self-assembly

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or