School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Philippa Rickard

Research Associate


My background is in marine biogeochemistry, and I joined the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences in 2019. My current work is evaluating surfactant control of air-water gas exchange in freshwater lakes.

Previously, I studied for my PhD at Newcastle University, which focussed on surfactant photochemistry in the sea-surface microlayer (SML; uppermost ~1000 µm of surface water) and subsurface water of coastal and estuarine systems. Surfactant enrichment in the SML mediates all mass transfer between air and water, hence the output from this research has implications for global climate models.

Previous to my PhD I obtained a first-class (with distinction) degree in Environmental Science from the University of York, where my dissertation project developed a novel application of particle size analysis to reconstruct past climate changes at a site on the Western Antarctic Peninsula using changes in diatom biomass in a marine sediment core.


2019: PhD Surfactant photochemistry in marine systems (Newcastle University, UK)

2014: BSc (Hons) Environmental Science (University of York, UK)



I am a member of the Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences Research Group. My current research explores surfactant control of air-water gas exchange in freshwater lakes, with Professor Robert Upstill-Goddard. This work is supported by The Leverhulme Trust and is in collaboration with the Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University, Sweden.

Previous work has shown that, in seawater, accumulation of natural biological surfactants in the sea-surface microlayer (SML) reduces the rate of air-sea gas exchange at the ocean basin scale, with clear implications for global cycling of trace gases (i.e. CO2). Given the increasingly acknowledged importance of the freshwater contribution to the global carbon cycle, this work aims to address the absence of studies that explore the role of freshwater microlayer surfactant enrichment on air-water gas exchange.