Watch the recording of this event

This event took place on Thursday 9 June 2022.
We are proud to present the Inaugural Professorial Lecture of Professor Mark Fitzsimons.
Nitrogen is an element of life. It is an essential nutrient for living organisms and the most abundant component of the air we breathe. The environmental cycle of nitrogen is closely related to its ability to change form and become available or unavailable to organisms through this process. However, despite its key role in sustaining life, human intervention in the nitrogen cycle has created an abundance of ‘reactive’ nitrogen leading to negative environmental impacts on natural waters. These include harmful algal blooms and ‘dead zones’, where oxygen is depleted.
Nitrogen has been described as ‘the wicked element’, and its application to the environment is now strictly regulated in many countries. Does it deserve this description?
Professor of Environmental Chemistry, Mark Fitzsimons, uncovers the fascinating chemistry of nitrogen, examining how its environmental transformations support biological and physical processes on earth. Drawing from three decades of expertise, he discusses some of the effects of the nitrogen imbalance we have created and how an equilibrium might be re-established.
Mark’s research focuses on the behaviour of volatile, reactive chemicals – particularly nitrogen – in which he has pioneered new advances in how they are measured to improve knowledge on how chemicals interact in the environment. His projects extend across land, rivers and sea, from understanding the fate of pharmaceuticals in our waterways to developing viable, nutrient-rich soils constructed from waste materials in the ReCon Soil project. His academic journey has included periods with the Marine Biological Association and Middlesex University before joining the University of Plymouth in 2001, where he now leads the Biogeochemistry Research Centre
You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions during the live Q&A session with Mark at the end. 
You are welcome to join us for the University of Plymouth’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture series, which provide a milestone event in a professorial career. Through these we can promote and celebrate the academic reputation and achievements within their research.
<p>Dr Mark Fitzsimons - FABSOIL project</p>

Uncovering the role of 'the wicked element' in the environment

“Many countries have declared a climate emergency, implicitly accepting that the trajectory of environmental degradation cannot continue and new thinking is needed. Trying to understand how environmental systems work in a period of rapid global change can feel daunting at times. However, as a scientist I feel privileged to make a contribution to address environmental challenges while having the opportunity to teach the wonderful subject of chemistry.”

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