Neil James

OHBP Project Co-ordinator

Neil is a Research Fellow and Project Co-ordinator of OHBP, based in Thurso at the Environmental Research Institute, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands. With a background in marine ecology and zoology Neil’s broad research interests include applied approaches tackling environmental contamination, developing sustainable resource use and circular economies in remote and rural regions.

Neil’s research interests include the issues surrounding the presence, magnitude and effects of pollution of aquatic environments. These include:

1. Marine plastic pollution – the presence in the environment and impact on biota, especially, but not limited to birds

2. Marine oil pollution – developing  new tools to assess the risk and impact of oil spills on local wildlife

3. Developing novel solutions to protect the environment and biota of remote and rural regions, including citizen science

4. Sustainable and circular economies – developing sustainable resource use and circular economies in remote and rural regions.

Neil manages and coordinates, the crowdsourcing, community science project focussed on the interaction of plastics, and other debris, with birds, and is the host of marine pollution podcast Under the Surface: The Pollution Experience.

Neil was the project coordinator for Circular Ocean, a €1.5million project funded by the EU’s Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme and responsible for the operational management overall financial administration and accounting of the project. Circular Ocean focussed on the impact of environmental contamination and sought to developing innovative and sustainable solutions for marine plastic waste. Circular Ocean won the prestigious EU RegioStars 2016 inaugural Public Choice Award and was a finalist in the category Sustainable Growth: Circular Economy.

Neil has previously worked on a range of transnational projects including the following EU Interreg funded Northern Periphery and Arctic / Northern Periphery Programme projects : 

  • POPCORN (Preventing Oil and Plastics Contamination of Ocean Regions of the North)
  • Blue Circular Economy (developing sustainable solutions to marine plastic waste a litter; finalist in the RegioStars 2020 awards)
  • APP4SEA (Arctic Preparedness Platform for oil Spill and other Environmental Accidents)
  • GREBE (Generating Renewable Energy Business Enterprise).
  • REGINA (Regional Innovation in the Nordic Arctic and Scotland with a Special Focus on Regions with Large-Scale Projects).
  • BioPAD (Bioenergy Proliferation and Deployment)
  • RASLRES (Regional Approaches to Stimulating Local Renewable Energy Solutions)
  • CoastAdapt – focused on how coastal communities can adapt to future impacts of climate change
  • NortH2O – transferable approaches for reducing micro-pollutants in the environments of remote regions.
  • BioNorth – applicability of biopolymers for a treatment method suitable especially for run-off waters

PhD, Marine Ecology; University of Liverpool & British Antarctic Survery


MBiolSci, Zoology (1st Class); University of Sheffield