Dr Richard Sandford

Dr Richard Sandford

Lecturer in Environmental Science

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science & Environment)


Work Placement; I have extensive senior management experience in the engineering, wholesale and leisure industries, including liaison roles with new and existing clients, successfully bringing in consultancies, local councils, police forces and many SMEs. This experience underpins my role as Work Placement Programme manager for Environmental Science and the forthcoming Environmental Consultancy degrees. In this capacity I have just brought in MVV (Plymouth’s new energy from waste plant) and LangageEnv. Science Farm renewable energy generation (anaerobic digestion) as well as developing links with the Eden Project for future work placements and student projects.  Renewable Energy; I have wide range of experience in renewable energy (RE) on the theoretical side e.g. lecturing RE and energy as part of carbon abatement and carbon sequestration strategies (3rd yr Env. Science). This is underpinned by my practically based, design and installation RE experience e.g. integration of ground source heat pumps with solar water heating for residential heating, solar photovoltaic (PV) generation of electricity, energy efficiency and rainwater harvesting as part of a sustainable building programme I am involved with outside of the University.

2002: PhD Environmental Sciences and Analytical Chemistry, 

Plymouth University .

Research Thesis: "In-Situ Determination of Ultra Trace levels of Copper in Seawater using Flow Injection (FI) with On Line Preconcentration, Photo-Oxidation and Chemiluminescence (CL) Detection.”

Instrument design, construction, optimisation and automation with the addition of an on-line, in-situ UV irradiation system to release organically complexed copper. Successfully deployed on a N./S. Atlantic Meridional Transect field cruise, fully validating instrument and generating a unique data set.

Responsibilities: Project management, implementation and development stages, budgetary control, devising project timescale, meeting deadlines, compiling reports, supervisor overseas research students and training role.

1996: BSc (Hons) Environmental Science, University of Plymouth (2.1).

Subject areas: environmental management and policy; environmental impact assessment; environmental auditing; waste management, geology and mineral resources; environmental monitoring and control; renewable energy, chemistry of natural and polluted environments, land reclamation, marine chemistry, environmental law, politics, philosophy, sociology, Town and Country planning, water resources and hydroecology.

Honours project: "Investigation of the Pilot Material Recycling Facility (MRF) of Plymouth and the Feasibility of a Waste to Energy Plant. Implications of Health and Safety for MRF Workers"

2003-2004: Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) Certified

2003 – 2013: Range of CPD including;  

Arc GIS, Proposal Writing,  Good Supervisory Practice

IT training - variety of courses e.g. Web design, Advanced MS Office

Advanced Powerboat Course - independent use of UoP RIBS for research fieldwork

Dreamweaver Web design

Teaching interests


Environmental Sciences, Environmental Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Marine Sciences, Chemical Oceanography.

    I am a Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) certified lecturer and researcher, with a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate learning and teaching activities. These are underpinned by the interdisplinary strengths of my Environmental Sciences degree, coupled to the environmental process and analytical chemistry nature of my PhD and postgraduate work. I have a strong background in developing integrated fieldwork-campus based study programmes, and have actively contributed to core Environmental Science and Chemistry modules and specialised options including Climate Change  and Carbon Sequestration, Oceanography, Marine Pollution, Contaminated Land, Impact Assessment,  student Professional Skills and pastoral Tutorial roles.

I am also the Work Placement Programme coordinator for Env. Sciene and Env. Consultancy for the short team and 'year out' placements and closely involved in the Env Science outreach recruitment activities.  

My teaching activities also involve supervisory roles including  overseas and PhD students as well as curriculum design. The later includes development of the Environmental Consultancy degree, module leadership and an active contribution to SoGEES operational management committees, enriching the student experience. .

Funding from Plymouth University (Student Centred Learning Initiative) has, as part of my educational CPD, supported my development of a generic, online, student centred pre-fieldwork package currently hosted by LabPlus. This includes streamed field demonstrations of the use of generic fieldwork instrumentation, e.g. dissolved oxygen, pH meters, and fieldwork best practices e.g. sample collection, good annotation of field notebooks, a comprehensive nutrient (N and P) biogeochemical cycling background and analysis sections, with external links e.g. EA, SWW. On line video streaming of this ‘virtual learning environment’ (VLE) enables this to be used as directed student pre-fieldwork preparation underpinning a range of modules including overseas Stage 2 residential field weeks toMalaysia, Malta and China. In addition this supports the wider student community by their incorporation into the UoP’s LabPlus environment alongside LabPlus instrumentation boxes. Underpinning this is my Postgraduate LTHE accreditation, and a postdoctoral role developing a VLE, integrating web development and well proven pedagogic practices.

Research interests



My research integrates the development and deployment of novel field and laboratory analytical techniques with the in situ, real time investigation of freshwater and marine biogeochemical cycling processes. High resolution data is essential to map rapid changes in biogeochemical cycling and ecosytem response and further eluciate fine scale process deatail.   The core of my current research is the in situ deployment and development of novel UV sensors for real time, high resolution (temporal and spatial) measurement of nitrate and nitrite, (Sandford et al., ES&T, 2007), dissolved organic carbon (DOC, JEM, 2010, STOTEN, 2013), in the sea, estuarine and freshwaters. This has quantified their diurnal cycles, the impacts of short term low or high flows when the normal diurnal pattern is overridden, and seasonal changes in flow regimes that impact on nutrient dynamics, bioavailability, uptake and ecosystem response.


Catchment Ecosystem Services Resilience in response to future climatic events in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainability Solutions Research (ISSR), as part of the Living with Environmental Change (RCUK) and UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR – PR14 funding).  Chemical source apportionment under the Water Framework Directive, incorporating all major point and diffuse sources to ensure river waters meet WFD Environmental Quality Standards (EQS). Evaluation of the effectiveness of pollution mitigation strategies, and decouple land use derived diffuse DOC and N from point sources. Sensor as a sentinel pollution alarm.

·         High resolution fingerprinting of DOC/nitrogen export from the River Taw catchment (North Wyke Research on Rowden grassland lysimeter plots) to surface waters. Use of an  in situ UV sensor to investigate seasonal changes such as high wintertime export coefficients, and key concepts e.g. how the resource stoichiometry of DOC:NO3-N influences N accumulation in downstream ecosystems by regulating a range of microbial processes that link DOC and NO3-N biogeochemical cycling. (Science of the Total Environment, 2013).

·         The investigation of the biogeochemical cycling and of climate change impacts on DOC, DOM and N in the Western Channel Observatory, Plymouth Sound and Tamar Estuary, in collaboration with Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML). Method development of UV sensor protocols for in situ determination of marine DOC. Targeting doc CCYLING, nutrient fronts and algal bloom periods. Supported by RYA Advanced Powerboat and Yachtmaster qualifications to facilitate skippering of the PU Coxside based RIBs.


·         developed/deployed a novel, reagentless, in situ UV sensor to map the frequency and magnitude of discontinuous and point source dissolved N (nitrate, nitrite) and DOC inputs,

·         investigation of  short term (e.g. low/high hydrological flows, wintertime), and longer term e.g. seasonal changes in DOC and N cycling and the impact on, bioavailability, uptake and ecosystem resilience.

·         quantification of dissolved N and DOC e.g. diurnal cycles, of bacterially mediated suspended particulate matter (SPM) nitrification processes, photo-oxidative inputs and the seasonal cycling between DON and nitrate,

Developed flow injection methods for copper, for chemical oxygen demand (COD), and sequential injection analysis (SIA) methods for DOC and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), and nitrate and nitrite. 

Publications; 15 papers,3 book chapters plus 4 workshop proceedings.

    I have been a co-supervisor for overseas PhD students and Research Fellows, have hosted international collaborations with Chiang Mai University, Thailand (PhD) and Sichuan University, S. W. China, being an invited speaker for a reciprocal visit (October 2007) to Chengdu University, China, sponsored by the Chinese State Government.

National collaborations include the Rothamstead Research, a Defra/BBSRC funded research institute investigating environmental agricultural/farming processes and impacts, Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and recently the Eden Project.  I have also participated in oceanic research e.g. Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT) cruise withPML, developing and deploying a sensitive, robust in-situ FI-CL instrument for the trace micronutrient and toxicant copper in sea and freshwaters. I have also developed an FI system for the generic environmental quality index chemical oxygen demand (COD), and sequential injection methods for DOC and DIC and for nitrate and nitrite. I am a reviewer for ES&T, Analytica Chimica Acta, Hydrobiologia, and Environmental Chemistry Letters.


Research groups

  • Biogeochemistry Research Centre (BGC)

Export of dissolved organic carbon and nitrate from grassland in winter using high temporal resolution, in situ UV sensing. Richard C. Sandford, Jane M. B. Hawkins, Roland Bol, Paul J. Worsfold. Science of the Total Environment 456–457 (2013) 384–391

In situ determination of disoolved organic carbon in fresh waters using a reagentless UV sensor. Richard Charles Sandford, Roland Bol, Paul John Worsfold. J. Environ. Monit., 2010, 12, 1678–1683

Nitrogen Cycling in Natural Waters using In Situ, Reagentless UV Spectrophotometry with Simultaneous Determination of Nitrate and Nitrite. Richard C. Sandford, Alexandra Exenberger, and Paul J. Worsfold. Environ. Sci. Technol.; 2007; 41(24), 8420 - 8425; DOI: 10.1021

Determination of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) and Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) in Freshwaters by Sequential Injection Spectrophotometry with On-line UV Photo-Oxidation. Orawan Tue-Ngeun, Richard C. Sandford,* Jaroon Jakmunee, Kate Grudpan, Ian D. McKelvie and Paul J. Worsfold. Anal. Chim. Acta, 2005, 554 17 -24. RS Corresponding author.

Determination of Chemical Oxygen Demand in Fresh Waters using Flow Injection with On-line UV Photocatlytic Oxidation and Spectrometric Detection. Dezhong Dan, Richard C Sandford* and Paul J Worsfold. Analyst. 2005, 130, 227 - 232. RS Corresponding author

Flow Injection Techniques in Aquatic Environmental Analysis: Recent Applications and Technological Advances. Weihong Xu, Richard C. Sandford*, Paul J. Worsfold, Alexandra Carlton and Grady Hanrahan. Crit. Rev.in Anal. Chem. 35, 237 – 246, 2005. RS Corresponding author

UV digestion of seawater samples prior to the determination of copper using flow injection with chemiluminescence detection, E.P.Achterberg, C.B.Braungardt, R.C.Sandford and P.J.Worsfold, Anal. Chim. Acta, 2001, 440, 27-36.

Long term response of Loch Ness, Scotland to changes in inputs from its catchment. O'Sullivan, P.E., Cooper, M.C., Shine, A.J., Huckerby, E., Matthews, N.M., Salter, N.J.C., Henon, D.N., Jones, V.J., Williams, T.S.C., Nicholson, M.J., Sandford, R.C. & Morris, A. Verhandl. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 2001, 27, 2307-2311.

Sandford, R., Worsfold, P., Environmental Analysis in Encyclopaedia of Analytical Science 2005. Second Edition (Paul J. Worsfold, Alan Townshend and Colin F. Poole, eds, 2005, Elsevier, Oxford, 501-508.

Flow injection techniques for the in situ monitoring of marine processes, P.J. Worsfold, E.P. Achterberg, A.R. Bowie, R. Sandford, V. Cannizzaro, P. Gardolinski in A. Gianguzza, E. Pelizzetti and S. Sammartano (Eds.), Chemistry of Marine Water and Sediments, Springer 2002, 385-402.

Flow injection with chemiluminescence detection for the shipboard monitoring of trace metals, P.J. Worsfold, E.P. Achterberg, A.R. Bowie, R.C. Sandford and R.F.C. Mantoura in M.S. Varney (Ed.), Chemical Sensors in Oceanography, Gordon and Breech, Amsterdam, 2000, 71-94.



Reports & invited lectures

Sichuan University, Chengdu, China, 2007; Invited speaker " In-situ real time mapping of inoprganic nitrogen and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) using novel UV sensor technology".