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Professor Kirk Semple


Kirk Semple

Lancaster University

LEC Building



Tel: +44 1524 510554

PhD supervision

Biodegradation of contaminants in soils
Risk assessment and remediation of contaminated soils
Bioaccessibility of contaminants in soils


Research profile:

I am a Professor of Environmental Microbiology with over 20 years of research experience. I was first appointed as a Lecturer in Environmental Microbiology and Ecotoxicology into the Department of Environmental Science in 1995, promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2002 and Reader in 2004. In March 2008, I was appointed as Associate Director of the Lancaster Environment Centre and administratively responsible for all postgraduate activities. In 2010, I was promoted to Professor of Environmental Microbiology, following the awarded of a personal chair. In September 2015, I was awarded a CRC CARE Fellowship by Prof Ravi Naidu (Managing Director and CEO of CRC CARE) for my work with CRC CARE in the area of bioavailability research.

Since my appointment, I have strategically developed and managed an active research team, supported by excellent analytical (LC-MS, GC-MS, HPLC-14C detector, sample oxidisation, liquid scintillation counting) and microbiological facilities (incubation, handling, 12C- and 14C-respirometry).

My main fields of research interest include understanding fundamental processes affecting organic contaminant-biota interactions in soils; availability of organic contaminant residues in soils, and risk assessment and bioremediation of contaminated land and, most recently, the use of anaerobic digestion for energy generation in wastewater treatment and the use of resulting by-products as soil amendments. A particular area of expertise lies in organic contaminant bioavailability in soil, and it is in this area where my reputation is best known internationally. Funding has come from NERC, BBSRC and EPSRC; Government agencies, including the DTI and Pesticide Safety Directorate; environmental consultancies, such as Remedios and Stopford Energy & Environment, and industry, including National Grid and Syngenta and equates to a total of £5,862,938.

Output from these areas has led to the publication of over 160 peer-reviewed journal and international conference papers and I have a H-index of 38 (WoS) and 43 (Google Scholar). I am the Editor in Chief for Environmental Technology and Innovation; in addition, I sit/have sat on the editorial boards of Journal of Applied Soil Ecology, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Journal of Soil and Sediment, Soil & Sediment Contamination, Journal of Applied Microbiology and Letters in Applied Microbiology, and I have also been invited to act as guest editor for special issues of Environmental Pollution, Journal of Environmental Quality and Journal of Applied Microbiology.

I have specific responsibility for Lancaster’s MSc in Contaminated Land and Remediation and teach on several Masters level modules in the area of environmental microbiology, pollution science and contaminated land.

Between 2005 and 2010, I acted as external examiner for MSc programmes in Environmental Microbiology, Environmental Science, Forestry and Soil Science, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen. From September 2009-11, I acted as the external examiner for the MSc programme in Soils and Environmental Pollution, in the Department of Soil Science, School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading. I am currently the external examiner for the MSc in Environmental Consultancy and the MSc in Environmental and Petroleum Geochemistry within the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.


University awards:

Commercialisation and Industry Award for work on land, water and air contamination and soil remediation (Lancaster University, 2006).


Editorial activities:

Editor in Chief, Environmental Technology and Innovation (2014-)

Editorial Advisor, International Journal of Renewable Energy and Environment (2013-)

Subject editor, Journal of Soils and Sediments (2006-)

Editorial board, Soil & Sediment Contamination (2005-)

Editorial board, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (2007-09; 2011-13)

Subject editor, Soil Biology and Biochemistry (2003-2010)

Editorial board, Journal of Applied Microbiology (2001-2010)

Editorial board, Letters in Applied Microbiology (2001-2010)


Career Details

2015 to present: Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE) Fellow, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

2015 to present: Director of International Engagement, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University.

2014 to present: Co-chairman of the Academia-Industry Forum-Working Group, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.

2014-2017: Adjunct Professor, Division of Information Technology, Engineering and the Environment, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.

2010 to present: Professor of Environmental Microbiology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University.

2008 to 2011: Associate Director for Postgraduate Studies, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University.

2004 to 2010: Reader of Environmental Microbiology, Lancaster University.

2002 to 2004: Senior Lecturer of Environmental Microbiology and Ecotoxicology, Lancaster University.

1995 to 2002: Lecturer of Environmental Microbiology and Ecotoxicology, Lancaster University.

1993 to 1995: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Horticulture Research International,     Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, UK.


Research Grants


NERC/ATCS (2016-17). Tropical Soils: Environmental Problems and Potential Solutions, £42,185

NERC (2014-17). Developing a suite of novel land conditioners and plant fertilisers from waste streams of biomass energy generation, £856,484.



NERC (2013). Developing a suite of novel land conditioners and plant fertilisers from waste streams of biomass energy generation, £77,496.

Technology Strategy Board (2011-2014). Knowledge Transfer Partnership with United Utilities, developing novel sludge granules (BIOSORBENT) capable of sequestering the organic fraction in sewage, £218,636.

IAA funding (Faculty of Science and Technology, Lancaster University - 2013). The viability of using micro-anaerobic digestion technology to enable safe waste disposal and the generation of energy for military and disaster relief applications, £5,000.

Binley, A.M. and Semple, K.T. FP7 – Environmental Technologies (2008-2011). Model driven Soil Probing, Site Assessment and Evaluation (ModelProbe, No 213161), £312,000.

Semple, K.T. and Guttierez, T. Marie Curie - FP7-PEOPLE-2007-4-1-IOF (2008-2011).Marine Micro-Algae as Global Reservoir of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Degraders (MARPAH), £234,000.


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