Dr Garry Codling
Senior Lecturer in Water Chemistry
Hatherly Building, University of Exeter, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4PS, UK
Office hours: 9-5
Garry obtained his first degree in Biological Science (1999-2004) and his Masters in Applied Marine Science (2005-2006) at Plymouth University. He then went on to do a PhD (2007-2011) at the University of Lancaster on a project looking at the geochemical cycling or organic contaminants in cryospheric regions. The following four years (2011-2015) were spent at the Toxicology Center at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, working on numerous projects including the Great Lakes Sediment Survey Project (GLSSP), Oil Sands Contaminant Monitoring in the Athabasca River system and multiple PFAS projects. He then moved to RECETOX, at Masaryk University (2015-2022) where he worked on non-target analytical methods for a wide range of matrices including human biofluids, marine and terrestrial systems. He was appointed as a Senior Lecturer in 2023 at Exeter University where he teaches for Geography and Biosciences and does research on contaminants in freshwater systems with the Center for Resilience in Environment Water and Waste (CREWW).
Broad research specialisms:
Environmental monitoring for contaminants, analytical chemistry, large data processing, climate change and toxicity.
My research interest has always been on environmental contaminants both anthropogenic and natural. There are millions of chemicals produced every day that improve our lives, these range from plant protection products, medicines, plastics and personal care products. However, over the last one hundred years many compounds have proven to have deleterious effects on our environment, ranging from increased levels of cancer to the loss of wild insects and the birds that fed on them. On top of those chemicals produced by man, climate change, nutrification of water systems and globalization has led to changes in the community assemblage of many systems including increases in harmful algal blooms that produce a range of toxins. There is a need-to-know what chemicals are in our environment, the sources and sinks, if they are accumulating and if they are a risk to human or environmental health. My work has taken me all over the globe to monitor a range of environments from tropical systems to the high arctic and I have developed novel methods for sample collection and monitoring. In the lab my work has been on target and non-target extraction methodology and using mass spectrometry to identify a wide range of compounds. Most recently my work has been on using non-target high resolution mass spectrometry for measuring hundreds or thousands of known chemicals as well as identifying suspect and unknown contaminants of concern.
PhD in Environmental Science from Lancaster University
MSc in Applied Marine Science from The University of Plymouth
BSc (Hons) in Biological Science from The University of Plymouth
2023-Present: Senior Lecturer in Water Chemistry, Exeter University
2019-2022: Marie Curie Fellow, University of Saskatchewan and Masaryk University
2017-2019: Senior Research Associate, RECETOX, Masaryk University
2015-2017: Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate, RECETOX, Masaryk University
2011-2015: Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Environment Center, University of Saskatchewan
2007-2008: Quality Control and Quality Assurance technician, Dow Chemicals
Primarily my research interests are in environmental monitoring for exogenous compounds in inorganic and organic matrices and identifying contaminants of concern. There are millions of chemicals in use, and it is estimated that each year 10 million new compounds are identified and synthesized. Not all have a use commercially, however, each month the USEPA reviews around 500 applications for compounds to enter commercial use in the US. In the UK and Europe, a similar number of applications are submitted. A few decades ago, our knowledge of what chemicals were in use, their toxicity and environmental fate was woefully limited. often it was only once effects were observed in the environment that there was any move to restrict or ban a compound and we are still paying the price. The group of chemicals known as PCBs for example are ubiquitous though in most countries use ended decades ago and hot spots often near dumps or production facilities are still being cleaned up. There is a need therefore to monitor for what compounds are emerging into our environment but also to not forget those legacy compounds that are still out there.
In addition to exogenous compounds, some of my work has also been on identifying markers of exposure/stress through biological chemical changes in response to environmental conditions. Global climate change and environmental contamination put additional pressure on organisms. Some of these changes may not be measurable directly but the biological response can be monitored. This area of work has included changes in the lipids in arctic fish or fish embryo changes in response to parental exposure to contaminants.
My work with CREWW (Center for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste) focuses largely on the area of freshwater systems and monitoring for a range of synthetic and natural contaminants. It is vital that we know what chemicals are currently in our ecosystems and what may be emerging.
My previous research experiences encompass a diverse range of environments and sample types, with a current focus on aquatic contaminants. Allow me to provide a summary of some of my past projects:
Great Lakes contaminants (GLSSP): I was involved in a comprehensive 5-year project aimed at assessing current and historical PFAS exposure in Great Lakes Sediment. This endeavor involved the collection and analysis of thousands of sediment samples from the Great Lakes region.
Developing pull-down assays for targeted non-target analysis (PullED-MS, MSCA Fellowship): I explored the potential of utilizing cellular proteins as binding agents to selectively capture compounds of interest from environmental matrices. This innovative approach aimed to filter out non-relevant compounds and enhance the identification of biologically active substances.
Human exposure to contaminants and Exposome (CETCOEN, HBM4EU): Within this project, I investigated the presence of contaminants in human biofluids as indicators of exposure. By employing high-resolution mass spectrometry, I conducted comprehensive analyses to examine the transfer of contaminants from mothers to their infants through placental and breastfeeding activities. Furthermore, I explored the potential health and developmental impacts associated with such exposures. This research contributes to the broader concept of the exposome, which recognizes that an individual's health is influenced by various factors throughout their lifetime. Identifying the most significant factors can guide targeted interventions to maximize societal benefits.
Cryospheric environments and contaminant behavior: I conducted studies to measure organic contaminants in snow, air, sea ice, and water at ultra-trace concentrations. These investigations aimed to deepen our understanding of processes such as snow melt behavior and the influence of ice cover on contaminant dynamics between water and the atmosphere.
Indoor exposure to contaminants: My research involved the analysis of house dust and air samples to assess the presence of persistent organic pollutants and plasticizers. By examining these indicators, I aimed to gain insights into potential indoor health risks.
Development of high-resolution mass spectrometry methods: I have made significant contributions to the development of various libraries, processing methods, and tools that facilitate the comprehensive chemical analysis of complex data sets. These advancements have enabled more effective investigations in the field of chemical analysis.
These past projects have provided me with a broad understanding of environmental contamination issues and the application of advanced analytical techniques for comprehensive sample analysis.