I was born in Australia, but went to university in Auckland, New Zealand where I did a PhD on the aqueous chemistry of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere. I was until recently a Professor in Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of East Anglia, U.K. and have served as a senior editor of Atmospheric Environment in 1990. I am convinced that environmental pollution is not merely a matter of environmental chemistry. The smells have to be smelt. Painting and poetry can be as informative as a scientific description when trying to understand the complexities of environmental problems. I admire detective writers; no crap and their hearts are in the right place. The title of my book The Big Smoke was meant remind us of Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep, so I was pleased when this academic book was reviewed as "reading like a thriller". Recently I have been thinking much about the representation air pollution in cinema in films such as Blade Runner. I am really excited to be in Hong Kong as it offers great potential to explore the way we are exposed to air pollutants and consider how such exposures might be reduced.
I remain interested in atmospheric sulphur chemistry that formed the subject of my PhD in the early 1970s and have just completed a major review of the biogeochemical cycling of organosulfides. My current research interests are:
- long-term changes in urban air pollution and its effects on health and material damage
- the statistical structure of air pollution monitoring data and its implications to policy
- impact of climate change on historic sites and their use
- I have collaborative projects on the sea surface microlayer, binding to particulate material and the environmental chemistry of pharmaceuticals