Steven Rowland

Academic profile

Professor Steven Rowland

Emeritus Professor
Faculty of Science and Engineering

The Global Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Steven's work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

Goal 02: SDG 2 - Zero HungerGoal 03: SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-beingGoal 04: SDG 4 - Quality EducationGoal 09: SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and InfrastructureGoal 13: SDG 13 - Climate Action

About Steven

After over 40 years in organic geochemistry research, at 69, and having being made voluntarily redundant in April 2019, Steve Rowland is currently Professor emeritus of Organic Geochemistry. He is also an Honorary Professor at the University of Exeter and Adjunct Professor at Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. Steve was also previously a Visiting Professor and Blaustein Fellow at Stanford University, USA and a Visiting Professor at the CSIRO in Australia. Steve was co-Editor in Chief of the Elsevier journal, Organic Geochemistry 2017-2023-the maximum term allowed by the journal. He has published close to 250 papers, including in the leading journals Science and Nature, supervised more than 35 Ph.D students and won research grants worth millions of pounds. In 2008 Steve was awarded a prestigious European Research Council Advanced Research Grant of 2 million euros, one of only 100 awards in science & engineering in the EU, one of 19 in the UK. Whilst Steve taught chemistry and environmental chemistry at BSc level at the university for over 30 years he now mainly conducts analytical consultancy (including for the University subsidiary UoPEL) and research on oil pollution and ambergris -in collaboration with colleagues at Cambridge, Copenhagen, Curtin (Australia), Liverpool and Bristol universities UK. In Feb 2020 Steve attended Buckingham Palace as a senior member of the research team awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for work on microplastics in the marine environment.

Supervised Research Degrees

Selected PhD Studentships (35 PhDs supervised in career)2014-2017 W.Robson UoP and KAT studentship. The polar constituents of petroleum. PhD awarded 2018.
2012-2105 M. J. Wilde ERC and UoP studentship. On the bicyclic acids of petroleum. PhD awarded 2016.
2009-2012 D. Jones UoP Studentship Polar unresolved pollutants: Characterisation & Toxicity. PhD awarded 2013.
2008-2011 N. Downes-Tettmar NERC CASE with PML. Algal toxins. PhD awarded 2013.
2006-2010 R. Johnston NERC CASE studentship with Oil Plus Ltd. Bioremediation of aromatic naphthenic acids.With Dr C Whitby, University of Essex. PhD awarded Jan 2011.
2005-2007 A.Scarlett HEIF2 Studentship with Dr T. Galloway. Potential ecological effects of biodegraded and dispersed oils. PhD awarded 2008.
2004-2007 M.Frenzel NERC Industrial CASE studentship with University of Exeter (EMERGE , Prof H Lappin-Scott) and Schlumberger Cambridge Research. PhD awarded 2008.
2003-2007 C.H. Redshaw BBSRC CASE Studentship/Astrazeneca Brixham Environmental Laboratory PhD awarded 2007 Biotic fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products 
2003-2007 C.E. West University of Plymouth Scholarhip/Astrazeneca Brixham Environmental Laboratory PhD awarded 2007.Abiotic fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products. With Dr C.A. Lewis 
2002-2005 B.E. Smith University of Plymouth Studentship PhD awarded 2005
Characterisation of unresolved oxidised complex mixtures ('humps') of chemicals in the environment. With Dr C.A. Lewis 
2002-2005 P. Curtis-Jackson NERC Studentship PhD awarded 2005
Characterisation and availability of algal-derived organic N in the marine environment
With Dr M.F. Fitzsimons (Director of Studies) and Dr M. Gledhill. 
2000-2004 A.M. Booth NERC Studentship.Characterisation and toxicity of petroleum-derived unresolved complex mixtures of hydrocarbons in mussels (M. edulis). PhD awarded 2004. With Dr C.A. Lewis (Director of Studies) 
2000-2003 G. Masse University of Plymouth Studentship Ph.D. awarded.
2003 University of Plymouth. Biological controls on the production of cytostatic lipids of diatoms. With Dr S.T. Belt (Director of Studies)
1998-2001 W.G. Allard University of Plymouth Studentship Ph.D. Awarded.
2002 Tripos, Inc., Cornwall, U.K.Sources and structures of commonly occurring highly branched isoprenoid alkenes. With Dr S.T. Belt (Director of Studies) 
1998-2001 P. McCormack University of Plymouth Studentship/astraZeneca Environmental Laboratory Ph.D. Awarded. University of Plymouth, U.K.The separation and identification of small highly polar or ionisable organic molecules in water. With Dr P. Jones (Director of Studies) 


Steve was Head of the Centre for Chemical Sciences from 2006-2008 (CCS; webpage Much of his teaching covered aspects of environmental organic chemistry including a Masters (MSc) course on Oil Pollution. In addition he was involved in the production of new teaching material. In collaboration with Prof Simon Belt (2003 RSC Higher education Award winner) he devised a series of case studies on organic chemistry (1st year undergraduate level) for the RSC published in 2006 and prepared similar material funded by the Chemistry For Our Futurefund administered by the RSC. Steve acted as External Examiner to the University of Newcastle taught course MSc in Environmental Biogeochemistry for 3 years (2000-2003) and as an External Examiner for Kuwait University proposed BSc in Environmental Science (2005). Steve complete his >31 years of teaching duties on June 1st 2015 when he began a mainly research-only contract at the University. He was made voluntarily redundant in April 2019 aged 65.

Contact Steven

B417 Portland Square, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA
+44 1752 584557