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Nano-Safety Research Group

Specialists in the assessment of nanomaterial toxicity to human health and the environment

Jonathan Curry

jon c photoResearch Interests

My research interests are primarily concerned with the issues surrounding pollution of the aquatic environment, along with the subsequent effects on organisms and ecosystems. Previous research includes:

  • The growth of Karenia mikimotoi, a harmful algal bloom (HAB) species, under different irradiances
  • Growth saturation kinetics of Nannochloropsis oculata, in response to increased dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC)
  • The presence of microplastic in the guts of flatfish in the Firth of Clyde

Current research: Ecotoxicology of Nanomaterials (EU funded PhD project)

My current thesis attempts to understand the ecotoxicology of nanomaterials, using the unicellular green algae - Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata. This research ultimately seeks to inform and develop current risk assessment strategies, in order to provide nanomaterial-specific protocols for toxicity testing. Initial experiments have used Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals as a starting point.

The nanotechnology industry is currently experiencing a period of rapid growth. The variety of novel and useful properties, which can be applied to a wide range of products, is the primary driver of the industry's growth. Fields that have shown great potential for benefit include medicine, electronics, and energy technology. In addition, a variety of marketed consumer goods currently use nanotechnology in their products. 

The unanticipated fate and effects of nanomaterials to both the consumer and environment are only just beginning to be understood. As they sit between simple chemical compounds and larger bulk materials in terms of their size (1-100nm), estimating their effects on the environment requires a specific understanding of their properties and behaviour. Integrating such understanding into conventional risk assessment strategies poses an important and worthwhile challenge.

It is important to inform society's understanding of this promising new technology so that their potential risks are not overlooked in the pursuit of their benefits.  


2013: Queen Mary University of London: Marine Ecology and Environmental Management (MSc - Merit)
2011: University of Wales, Swansea: Marine Biology (First-class BSc (hons))


MARINA Project -
Nano-Safety Research Group -


Prof Teresa Fernades, School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University

Dr Helinor Johnston, School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University


FP7 funded project MARINA

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