Professor Graeme Paton

Professor Graeme Paton

Chair in Biological Sciences
Head of School of Biological Sciences

Professor Graeme Paton
Professor Graeme Paton

Contact Details


Welcome to the School of Biological Sciences

What we do in the School of Biological Sciences

Why I study soils

Who inspired me

Making progress on inclusion

Making further progress on inclusion

External Memberships and Affiliations


Research Areas


  • Applied Environmental Sciences
  • Environmental Biotechnology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Soil Science

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Research Overview

I study the relationship between pollutant speciation and toxicity. This considers the fate and transformation of environmental pollutants. This is done through the use of analytical chemical tools to study organism responses to pollutants. I am also enthused by the application and comparison of ecotoxicity assays to various environmental sample. I also use general research skills in soil microbiology and biochemistry. Specific areas of interest are:

  • Fate of inorganic/ organic pollutants in the environment
  • Development of bioassays to assess environmental toxicity
  • Chemical and biological techniques for environmental restoration
  • Soil genesis and classification and linkage to soil biology

Here is my lab

Current Research

The current research group has several strands. Mostly the focus is on process level soil microbiology as a response to perturbations- mainly pollution. Biosensors are widely used to quantify and better understand these impacts and to relate to the aspects of bioavailability. To an extent these enable sustainable solutions to be developed and bespoke risk assessment to be measured.

If you are interested in joining the group then have a think about the work that the current group and recently completed members have contributed.

Dr. Lenka (Maderova) Mbadugha complements the research team with her expertise in pollution monitoring, biosensor development and soil carbon dynamics.

Mary Allagoa is using fugacity and QRA strategies to relate hydrocarbon fate and impact in the environment. Emmanuel Awulu is developing and comparing a range of mutagenic assays (microbial and human cell type) to devise rapid screening tests for ecotoxicology applications. 

Rosie Boyko is studying the link between soil pH management and sward quality with reference to Scotland and food security. 

Sapar Dossanov is looking at integrated approaches of risk and hazard assessment in current and historic metal mines. Amira Alzadjali is developing new elemental specific biosensors to update the current suite used by the group in environmental diagnostics. 

Abubakar Yuguda is devising methods to apply mycorrhizal enhanced maize plants in the remediation of soils impacted with effluents from the tannery industry. He spends his time both in Aberdeen and in Nigeria. 

Aftab Majeed is considering the challenges of quantifying urban ecology with respect to planning challenges from a quantitative basis. 

In recent years we have had many completions. Dr. Barry Nourice studied the fragile status of soils in the Seychelles.  Dr. Victor Igwe focussed on microbial processes in the production of bioethanols. This made use both of empirical and modelling approaches. Dr. Ogo Iroakasi developed novel approches in in the production and application of microbial biosurfactants. This was applicable both to enhanced oil recovery and bioremediation. While Ogo was characterising and optimising the performance and potential value, Dr. Chisom Agunwoke developed their role in soil and sediment remediation. Lynne Copland compared the performance of these biosurfactants with synthetic materials. Dr. Mouza Al Mansouri studied sustainable water storage in Abu Dhabi where she works as the Director in Spatial Data Analysis at the Environment Agency. Dr. Alex Laurie completed her thesis developing a suite of ecotoxicity (microbial) assays that can effectively integrate with nano-particles (NP). The particular interest relates to silver and copper based materials.  Dr. Saad Dehlawi completed his research using chemical additives to enhance mobility and complexation of pollutants as a strategic technique for land and water remediation. His main strand was on the novel use of calcium polysulphides. Dr. Chidinma Anunike used CaSx with a specific focus on the consideration of hexavalent chromium transformation. 

Dr. Rajendra Uprety completed work that focussed on fundamental aspects of soil sustainability and soil husbandry. Underpinning this work is the factors that change cation exchange capacity a measurement that we all take for granted yet it is as essential to characterise today as it has always been. Dr. Anastasia Fountouli studied the relationship between soil pH and the potential impacts on soil physical parameters and whether this may be mediated by microbial or physicochemical drivers. These researchers highlight the importance of looking at fundamental soil processes in the context of enhanced food security and production. Dr. Wei Ma completed her thesis with the successful development of a system for solid phase application of biosensors by comparing detailed analytical chemistry with biological responses. Dr. Sarah Sinebe developed and applied the decision support tools for remediation that have microbial biosensors as a key component in decision making.

Dr. Hedda Weitz, who developed a range of bacterial biosensors and the only effective fungal biolouminescence-based assay, oversees the smooth running of the microbial laboratory very effectively. Jamie Buckingham oversees the challenges of soils, environmental samples and chemical analysis within the group. 

Here is a tour of the facilities


Knowledge Exchange and Public Engagement

I am currently the Director of QUADRAT DTP

Thoughts on landscape change

And updates on the Science Teaching Hub


Prof. Kirk Semple, Lancaster University


My current supervision areas are: Biological and Environmental Sciences.



Teaching Responsibilities

Course Co-Coordinator 

  • Land Use and the Changing Environment


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  • Metal remediation of soil via phosphate formation: Bone meal treatments

    Hodson, M. E., Valsami-Jones, E., Dubbin, W. E., Collins, M., Cotter-Howells, J., Paton, G., Kemp, A. J., Warren, A.

    MINERAL DEPOSITS: PROCESSES TO PROCESSING, VOLS 1 AND 2. Stanley, C., Rankin, A., Bodnar, R., Naden, J., Yardley, B., Criddle, A., Hagni, R., Gize, A., Pasava, J., Fleet, A., Seltmann, R., Halls, C., Stemprok, M., Williamson, B., Herrington, R., Hill, R., Prichard, H., Wall, F. (eds.). LEIDEN: A A BALKEMA PUBLISHERS pp. 1183-1186, 4 pages.

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Conference Proceedings

  • Feasibility of using prokaryote biosensors to assess acute toxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

    Reid, B., Semple, K., Macleod, C., Weitz, H., Paton, G.

    FEMS Microbiology Letters, vol. 169, no. 2, pp. 227-233

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Application of bioluminescence-based microbial biosensors to the ecotoxicity assessment of organotins

    Bundy, J. G., Wardell, J. L., Campbell, C. D., Killham, K., Paton, G. I.

    Letters in Applied Microbiology, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 353-358

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Development of an acute and chronic ecotoxicity assay using lux-marked Rhizobium legunninosarum biovar trifolii

    Paton, G. I., Palmer, G., Burton, M., Rattray, E. A., McGrath, S. P., Glover, L. A., Killham, K.

    Letters in Applied Microbiology, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 296-300

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Comparative assessment of the toxicity of a papermill effluent by respirometry and a luminescence-based bacterial assay

    Brown, J. S., Rattray, E. A., Paton, G. I., Reid, G., Caffoor, I., Killham, K.

    Chemosphere, vol. 32, no. 8, pp. 1553-1561

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Use of luminescence-marked bacteria to assess copper bioavailability in malt whisky distillery effluent

    Paton, G. I., Palmer, G., Kindness, A., Campbell, C., Glover, L. A., Killham, K.

    Chemosphere, vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 3217-3224

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

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