Brian Reid


  • 1.42A Sciences

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Personal profile


Brian is Professor of Soil Science at the University of East Anglia and Adjunct Professor with the Chinese Academy of Science Institute for Urban Environment (Xiamen, China). He is a Technical Expert in Soil Quality to the BSI and a member of the ISO Soil Quality Technical Committee ‐ TC190.

Brian has published >70 journal articles; these have accrued 5000 citations; his H-index is 34.

Brian’s research has focused on: soil carbon; soil interactions with contaminants agrochemicals, antibiotics and nutrients; the fate and transport of these agents in association with soil colloids and organic matter; contaminated land; biochar; remediation, and; pollutant risks and ecotoxicity. His current research relates to: i) the fate, availability and risk associated with chemicals in the environment, ii) the role of soil carbon in controlling soil structure, soil hydrology and chemical mobility, iii) the mobilisation of soil organic matter and soil colloids during intense rainfall events, iv) innovation to minimise pesticide release into the environment, and iv) environmental applications of biochars.

PhD Studentships Available

I welcome expressions of interest for PhD projects linked to the areas of research above. 

PhD Positions

Click here for other current PhD opportunities in the School of Environmental Sciences. However, feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.


Key Research Interests and Expertise

I have developed a portfolio of paradigm shifting research that has used fundamental principles of soil science and environmental chemistry to develop new approaches to soil/pollutant management. I have pioneered new research that has been pivotal to informing our current understanding of: the bioavailability of chemicals in soil; the applicability of cyclodextrin based approaches as bioavailability mimetics; the dynamics of microbial adaptation to chemical exposure; the influence of biochar on soil physical, chemical and biological attributes of soil and the mechanisms through which biochar influences efflux of soil colloids, organic matter and chemical from soil to water. This research has provided a foundation to: an ISO standard; the development of national and international guidance on the safe use of biochar as a soil amendment; demonstration of biochar to mitigate pollutant exposure to “at risk” populations living in China’s “Cancer Villages”; the development of new products and environmental assessment approaches to mitigate pesticide transfer from soil to water resources.

Significant Publications

  • Optimizing Peri-URban Ecosystems (PURE) to re-couple urban-rural symbiosis. YG Zhu, BJ Reid, AA Meharg, SA Banwart, BJ Fu (2017). Science of the Total Environment
  • Application of biochar to soil reduces cancer risk via rice consumption: a case study in Miaoqian village, Longyan, China. S Khan, BJ Reid, G Li, YG Zhu (2014). Environment International 68, 154-161.
  • Islas-Espinoza, M., Reid, B.J., Wexler M., Bond, P.L. (2012) Soil Bacterial Consortia and Previous Exposure Enhance the Biodegradation of Sulfonamides from Pig Manure. Microbial Ecology. Online: DOI 10.1007/s00248-012-0010-5.
  • Zhang, Y.Z., Deng, S.X., Liu, Y.A., Shen, G.F., Li, X.Q., Cao, J., Wang, X.L., Reid, B., Tao, S. (2011) A passive air sampler for characterizing the vertical concentration profile of gaseous phase polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in near soil surface air. Environmental Pollution, 159, 694-699.
  • Latawiec, A.E., Reid, B.J. (2010) PAH contaminated soil: a way forward. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology 41, 52–77.
  • Hickman, Z.A., Reid, B.J. (2008) The co-application of earthworms (Dendrobaena veneta) and compost to increase hydrocarbon losses from diesel contaminated soils. Environment International34, 1016-1022.DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2008.03.004
  • Allan, I.J., Semple, K.T., Hare, R., Reid, B.J. (2007) Cyclodextrin enhanced biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and phenols in contaminated soil slurries. Environmental Science and Technology,41, 5498-5504. DOI: 10.1021/es0704939
  • Allan, I.J., Semple, K.T., Arya, R., Reid, B.J. (2006) Prediction of mono- and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon degradation in spiked soils using cyclodextrin extraction. Environmental Pollution, 144, 562-571. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2006.01.026
  • Reid, B.J., Stokes, J.D., Jones, K.C., Semple, K.T. (2000) A novel chemical extraction technique for the evaluation of soil-associated non-polar organic pollutant bioavailability. Environmental Science and Technology34, 3174-3179.

Publications: EPrints Digital Repository

Key Responsibilities

  •  Deputy Director of Admissions

Research Group Membership


Lewis Peake (PhD) - Biochar amendment to improve soil properties and sequester carbon – fundamental research and GIS predictive land suitability modelling

Alessia Freddo (PhD) - Biochar: for better or for worse.

Karen Hampson - Application of stable isotopes to assess in situ natural attenuation processes in a contaminated aquifer. 

Godwin Unazi (MSc by Research)
Impact of vegetable oil upon soil respiration and the application of chemical oxidation for the amelioration of soil contaminated with vegetable oil. 

Dr Son Trinh
Application of river bank filtration to remove pesticide residues.

Dr Agnieszka Latawiec
On the way forward into bioaccessibility implementation

Dr Marina Isla Espinoza 
Effects of veterinary antibiotics in soil microbial communities

Dr Patricia Asanga 
Rapid bioassays for effect-directed analysis of pesticides in water and sediments.

Dr Zachary Hickman
The prediction of bioremediation potential and the application of novel bioremediation approaches.

Dr Beke Sese
Assessment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon toxicity using the free living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

Dr Paulette Posen 
Groundwater vulnerability mapping: application to pesticide contamination in England. 

Dr Annika Swindell 
Appraisal of extraction techniques for the prediction of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon bioavailability.


Soil science, soil carbon, soil ecosystem services, biochar, contaminated land, remediation, pollutant/contaminant fate in the environment.

Teaching Interests

In 2009 I was the recipient of UEA’s highest award for Teaching Excellence - The Sir Geoffrey and Lady Allen Prize. 

In 2007, I was admitted as a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

I currently contribute to the following modules:

  • Soil Processes and Environmental Issues (BSc Yr2; Convenor)
  • Environmental Pollution: Science, Policy and Management (Masters)


SOIL PROCESSES AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES (Yr2 BSc): This is a modern Soil Science module, that is supported by field based learning, and that has a framing with respect to soil functions and soil ecosystem services. Having laid the foundation in the physical, chemical and biological attributes that govern soil processes these are then applied to understand major biogeochemical cycles in soil (namely, C-, N-, P- and S-cycles). Equipped with this fundamental appreciation for the soil environment and the processes it supports, the module turns its focus to environmental issues that impact upon soils. In this latter part of the module we consider climate change, soil organic matter resources, agricultural pressures and climate mitigation interventions such as the incorporation of biochar into soil. The module concludes with material relating to soil ecosystem services, assessment of soil quality and how these elements align with the EU Soil Thematic Strategy. The coursework is innovative and strives to evidence higher cognitive skills by obligating the students, through their coursework, to make use of soil and environmental information to justify the location of a new vineyard in England.

ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION: SCIENCE, POLICY AND MANAGEMENT (Yr3 BSc and MSc variant): This module affords me the opportunity to bring my research activity to the classroom.  To this end I cover aspects of pollution and toxicology with respect to soils. Having introduced organic and inorganic contaminants and explained how they interact with soil I move on to issues of contaminant bioavailability and contaminated land assessment. This follows into legislation and material on land remediation. My ‘Red Hot Chilli Pepper’ practical sessions encourages students to consider environmental sampling and analytical chemistry using chilli peppers (rather than soils). Coursework obligates students to synthesize and justify a land remediation strategy for a contaminated site based upon spatial data related to contaminant type, depth and geotechnical properties of the soil. This exercise is exactly the kind of activity graduates might find themselves engaged in if they were employed as an environmental consultant. Engagement with this coursework has been supported by seminars led by practicing environmental lawyers and/or environmental consultants. The module concludes with lectures on: Dioxin in Vietnam, and; Persistent organic pollutant (POP) global mobility. 


In support of my teaching I co-authored the Second Edition of the School’s Environmental Chemistry Textbook: ‘Introduction to Environmental Chemistry’ (2003). This has been internationally embraced and translated into Japanese and Korean. 

External Duties

External Examiner (2018-2021): for BSc degrees in Ecolgical and Environmental Sceinces at The University of Edinburgh. 

External Examiner (2015-2018):  for two MSc programs at the University of Reading (MSc in Environmental Pollution / MSc in Environmental Management). 

Administrative Posts


Faculty of Sceince, Associte Dean (Innovation) (2019-present). 

UEA China Strategy Group (2012-present). The Territorial Strategy Groups (of which China is one) spearhead UEA’s engagement and reputational gain overseas. The Territorial Groups report directly to the VC regarding the identification and development of strategic partnerships in research and teaching. The Territorial Group Chairs shaped the development of the UEA International Strategy.

ENV Director of Enterprise (2015-2018). The Director of Enterprise represents the School at the Faculty of Science Enterprise executive and reports to the School’s Executive Board. Central to my role is the responsibility to position the School’s Impact Portfolio ready for the Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) Assessment.

ENV Deputy Director of Research (2014-2015).

ENV Director of Admissions (2010-2012).

ENV Executive Board (2010-2012; 2014-present)



Member of NERC Peer Review College (2016-present).

British Standards Institute (BSI) National Expert and International Standards Organisation (ISO) International Expert (2014-present).

London Technology Network Business Fellow (2007-2010).

President and Director of the UK Branch of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) (2007-2008).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Lancaster University

Award Date: 1 Jan 2000

Bachelor of Science, University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jan 1996


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