Kevin Wyche

Kevin Wyche

Dr, Director of the Centre for Earth Observation Science, Environment and Public Health Research and Enterprise Group Lead

20052021

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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Dr Wyche is a Reader in Atmospheric Science within the School of Applied Sciences (SAS) and the Director of the University of Brighton's Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEObS). He is also lead of the SAS Environment and Public Health Research and Enterprise Group (EPHREG) and founder and Principal Investigator of Air Environment Research (AER) and the Brighton Atmospheric Observatory (BAO); a state-of-the-art, highly instrumented real-time tropospheric observation laboratory. His research interests are based around the study of the Earth’s atmosphere, with focus on tropospheric chemistry and air pollution. More specifically, his interdisciplinary research falls into the areas of (i) Fundamental chemical processes controlling tropospheric composition and change, (ii) Air quality science and (iii) Analytical instrument development and application in Earth Observation. In these areas Kevin specializes in the atmospheric oxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gas-to-particle transition of semi-volatiles and the subsequent formation and impact of ultrafine particles (UFPs). Dr Wyche was awarded his PhD in 2009 from the University of Leicester, for which he was presented the University of Leicester College of Science and Engineering PhD Medal. Kevin has worked with many national and international players in the fields of Atmospheric Science and Earth Observation, collaborating on seventeen major projects in the last fifteen years (including five NERC and three other UKRI projects) and working on twenty multi-partner field campaigns. This multi-institution work in discovery science has been sustained since 2005. Dr Wyche has been highly successful in the acquisition of research and enterprise funding, being involved with projects worth over £12M since 2007. Kevin has been Principal Investigator on numerous research and enterprise projects, including recently on the UKRI NERC funded ‘Hidden Rise in Toxic Air Pollution During the COVID-19 Pandemic’ (HRITAP) and HDRUK/UKRI MRC funded ‘Is exposure to airborne fine and ultrafine particulate matter a determining factor in COVID-19 infection and outcome within the UK?’ (PECO) projects, exploring the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on atmospheric composition and reactivity, and linkages between air pollution exposure and viral infection and outcome. Dr Wyche is widely published and has a h-index of 20. He is also a committee member for the Institute of Air Quality Management, editor for the international journals, Atmosphere and the International Journal of Atmospheric and Ocean Science, and is Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

"I have always been interested in how things work in the world around us and have always been fascinated by the Earth and its place in our solar system. This led me to embark on a BSc. degree in Physics with Space Science and Technology at the University of Leicester, from which I graduated in 2003. During my time in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Leicester, I developed a keen interest in instrumentation and its application to monitor the Earth system – particularly the atmosphere – both from the ground and space. After my graduation I was fortunate enough to obtain a place on the field team being deployed to the Svalbard archipelago to construct the SPEAR radar array, a system that would later be used to probe the Earth’s upper atmosphere; this amazing experience fuelled my interest in the study of the atmosphere and led into my studying for an MSc. in Atmospheric Science at the University of East Anglia, from which I graduate with Distinction in 2004.

"Straight after my MSc. I had the privilege to be accepted as a Ph.D student for Professors Paul Monks and Andy Ellis in the Atmospheric Chemistry group, back at the University of Leicester, working on the development of instrumentation to monitor reactive trace species in the troposphere. Working for Paul and Andy was amazing, it gave me the opportunity to work with a fantastic group of people at the cutting edge of an important and fascinating scientific field; it gave me the opportunity to work in a range of places, from government laboratories to the top of the Alps and allowed me to develop a range of invaluable, multi-disciplinary skills. I graduate from my Ph.D in 2009 and was privileged to receive the University of Leicester Faculty of Science and Engineering Ph.D Medal, for the work I conducted during my Ph.D.

"Between 2007 and 2011 I continued to work for Paul in the Atmospheric Chemistry group as a Post-Doctoral Researcher, with a short break during which I worked as an Earth Observations Specialist for the group’s innovation hub, G-STEP. During this time I worked on five major consortium projects, investigating fundamental chemical processes in the troposphere, including the oxidation of atmospherically important volatile organic compounds and secondary organic aerosol formation. These projects allowed me to conduct extensive work at both the Manchester Aerosol Chamber and the European Photo-reactor, in Spain.

"During my time at Leicester, I was also involved in the writing of a large consortium grant application to investigate air pollution in North West Europe; this proposal was accepted by the EU INTERREG program in 2011 and soon after the Joint Air Quality Initiative (JOAQUIN) was launched. JOAQUIN gave me the opportunity to move to the University of Brighton, where I established the Air Environment Research team, along with my colleague, Dr Kirsty Smallbone. During my work with the JOAQUIN project, I set up the university’s Brighton Atmospheric Observatory, which was inaugurated by Caroline Lucas MP in December 2015. BAO is one of the UK’s most highly instrumented, permanent air monitoring observatories currently in operation and is one of my proudest achievements."

Research interests

Dr Wyche's research interests focus on the study of the Earth’s atmosphere, with particular emphasis on tropospheric chemistry and air pollution. His three principle areas of research are:

Fundamental chemical processes controlling tropospheric composition and change

The Earth’s atmosphere is a hugely complex, multi-phase system, the chemistry of which is controlled by tiny quantities of reactive species, including oxides of nitrogen, ozone, and volatile organic compounds. These trace species, and their tropospheric chemistry lie at the heart of many of our contemporary environmental and air quality issues, including summertime smog and particle formation. In order to better understand the roles and impacts of such reactive species within the Earth’s atmosphere, we have been using environment chambers and chemical modelling to simulate and study their reaction mechanisms. The primary focus of my own research in this area is the atmospheric oxidation of volatile organic compounds and their partitioning to the particle phase to form Secondary Organic Aerosol (SOA).

Research Projects:

  • TOluene OXidation In a Chamber (TOXIC) – EUROCHAMP
  • Aerosol-Cloud Interactions-a Directed Program to Reduce Uncertainty in Forcing through a targeted laboratory and modelling program (ACID-PRUF) – NERC
  • Are glyoxal and methyl glyoxal critical to the formation of a missing fraction of SOA? (PHO-SOA) – NERC
  • Total RAdical production and degradation Products from alkene OZonolysis (TRAPOZ) – NERC
  • Aerosol Coupling in the Earth’s System (ACES) – NERC
  • Mass Spectrometry for the CHemical Analysis of Secondary organic aerosol (MSCHAOS) – ACCENT/EPSRC

Air quality science

Air pollution is a hugely important issue for society today, with poor air quality being responsible for an estimated 310,000 premature deaths in Europe alone, and for imposing a burden of up to €189 billion on the European economy. Many of the scientific questions I investigate as part of my research into fundamental tropospheric processes, lie at the heart of contemporary air pollution problems and as such synergise with my work observing the 'real' atmosphere. Using the state-of-the-art Brighton Atmospheric Observatory at the University of Brighton, I am able to probe the air we breathe in great detail and study a plethora of reactive trace species and air pollutants, including so called 'ultrafine particles' (UFP), for which there is emerging evidence regarding their significantly hazardous nature to human health.

Research Projects:

  • Is exposure to airborne fine and ultrafine particulate matter a determining factor in COVID-19 infection and outcome within the UK? (PECO) - HDRUK/MRC/UKRI
  • Research Projects:he Hidden Rise in Toxic Air Pollution during the COVID-19 Pandemic: is our response worsening the respiratory burden of particulate matter in the UK? (HRITAP) - NERC
  • AER-Innovate - Research England
  • JOAQUIN Advanced Air Quality reSearch (JAAQS) Observatory – University of Brighton/Interreg IVB
  • JOint Air QUality INitiative (JOAQUIN) – University of Brighton/Interreg IVB
  • Leicester Air Monitoring Project (LAMP) – University of Leicester/EPSRC

Analytical instrument development and deployment

In order to study the gases and particles that make up the atmosphere, we must first be able to develop and deploy state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation to observe them with a high degree of accuracy and precision. My research into analytical instrumentation is centred on the development of instruments to monitor trace gases, in particular volatile organic compounds, latterly using Chemical Ionisation Reaction Mass Spectrometry (CIR-MS) and now using Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (DOAS). In particular, my current research involves using DOAS to monitor formaldehyde and nitrous acid in order to investigate their roles in urban atmosphere processes. My recent research with analytic instrumentation also involves the application of commercialised particle counting technology to study UFP’s in urban air.

Research Projects:

  • ACCENT OVOC intercomparison – ACCENT/EPSRC 
  • Development characterisation and implementation of Chemical Ionisation Reaction Mass Spectrometry – EPSRC
  • Space Plasma Exploration by Active Radar (SPEAR; construction) – PPARC/NERC

Approach to teaching

I really enjoy all aspects of teaching, from scheduled lecturing to project supervision. My teaching is always underpinned by my practical experience in the research sector and I like to bring all of my positive experiences designing hardware, conducting fieldwork, collecting and interpreting data and publishing findings in a competitive field, into my classes.

Where possible I like to include practical elements into my teaching framework and I always try to ensure that these have tangible links to up-to-date, cutting edge research; whether this be analysing data collected minutes before using the latest sophisticated software techniques, or interpreting phenomena in the environment around us using space-borne instruments.

I always like to encourage two-way dialogue in my lectures and try to make sure all of my students feel fully involved at every stage. I am a big fan of “blended learning” and the “flipped classroom”, and like to produced documentary-style films to accompany my classes, which students can watch to support their learning journey whenever and wherever they like, whether that be on a PC before their class, or on their smart phone on a bus on the way home. I am always keen to engage with, and employ the latest teaching aids, and use tools such as NearPod and blogs to help create the best possible learning experience for my students. To support my scheduled teaching activities, I like to have a relaxed, 'open door' policy and encourage students to call by with any questions they have, or if they feel they need a little extra help.

Supervisory Interests

Dr Wyche is available to supervise PhD and MRes students in multiple, interdisciplinary areas, principally Atmospheric Science, including tropospheric composition and change, air quality, air quality and human health and secondary organic aerosol. He also works at the air quality-policy interface, so is available to supervise students interested in air pollution and environmental policy and public health issues. Dr Wyche also employs remote sensing in his work, so is available to supervise projects using ground, air and space-based remote sensing instrumentation for Earth Observation and Planetary Science.

Education/Academic qualification

University of Brighton

1 Sep 20171 Jun 2018

Award Date: 2 Aug 2018

PhD, University of Leicester

1 Sep 20041 Sep 2007

Award Date: 13 Nov 2009

Master, University of East Anglia

1 Sep 20031 Sep 2004

Award Date: 1 Jul 2004

Bachelor, University of Leicester

1 Sep 20001 Jul 2003

Award Date: 1 Jul 2003

External positions

Member of Editorial Board

16 Nov 2020 → …

Editor

1 May 2020 → …

Committee Member

1 Dec 2018 → …

Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Leicester

1 Sep 2015 → …

Keywords

  • QC Physics
  • Atmosphere
  • mass spectrometry
  • Remote Sensing
  • QD Chemistry
  • Atmosphere
  • Air Quality
  • Aerosol
  • GE Environmental Sciences
  • Atmosphere
  • Air Quality
  • public health

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