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Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

Ecotoxicology, Environmental Toxicology, Fish Diagnostics, Marine Ecology, Environmental Chemistry, Biochemistry, Invertebrate Tissue Culture and Contaminants of Emerging Concern (microplastics, pharmaceuticals, endocrine disrupting compounds).


I am an exotoxicologist and have been involved in the development of biomarkers and bioassays to assess the impact of novel environmental pollutants. More recently my research is taking a more holistic approach, looking at the ecological level. I work on investigating the impact of contaminants of emerging concern in organisms in the aquatic environment (both marine and freshwater) and have more recently been involved in fish diagnostics in aquaculture. Throughout my career I have successfully attracted £1,565,805 in research funding. Currently, I have 3 main areas of research:

1. Ecotoxicology: investigating the impact of contaminants of emerging concern. Having previously worked on endocrine disrupting chemicals (PhD) and pharmaceuticals (EPA (Ireland), Environment Canada) this work is now focusing on Microplastics with my research team working on: a. the development of standardised protocols for microplastic collection, processing and identification; b. the abilty of microplastics to act as vectors for pollution transfer (PhD co-funded by Marine Scotland Science); c. the impact of microplastics on marine and freshwater organisms; d. sources of microplastics to the aquatic environment

2. Fish diagnostics in Aquaculture: The re-purpose and translation of human medical diagnostic technologies to assess fish health in aquaculture. PI on Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) funded project (£242,000) with Randox diagnostics and aquacluture partners (Kames Fish Farm, Marine Harvest, Europharma) to investigate the impact of sea lice treatment on fish health. 

3. In vertebrate tissue culture: The development of novel techniques for the in vitro culture of tissues from marine and freshwater invertebrates (Bivalve mussels) for use in toxicity testing. 

Current research activities

Fish diagnostics in aquaculture:

I am currently principle Investigator on a Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) project that is co-funded by aquaculture (Kames Fish Farm, Marine Harvest, Europharma) and medical diagnostic (Randox diagnoatics) industry partners (£242,000). This project is investigating the re-purpose and use of human medical technologies to asses the impact of sea lice treatment on fish health. I also have a UWS funded Scholarship student (Michael Megalakakis) investigating the use of these technologies to assess the impact of disease on salmon and trout in aquaculture and the potential for these technologies as early warning indictors of disease.  

Microplastics in the enivornment:

My research team are also investigating various aspects of microplastic contamination in the environment including the develpment of:

Standardised metods for the collection and separation of microplastics from marine and freshwater sediments. This work is being undertaken in collaboration with the MASTS community project Scottish Microplastics Research Group (SMRG) chaired by Dr Quinn. 

Novel methods for the separation of microplastics from aquatic fish and invertebrates using enzyme tissue dissociation (in collaboration with Marine Scotland Science).

The impact of microplastic ingestion on varous aquatic (marine and freshwater) invertebrates including feeding rates, morphology and biomarker expression.

The ability of microplastics to act as vectors for contamination for environmental contaminants including PAHs, POPs and heavy metals. This work is part of a PhD Scholarship co-funded by Marine Scotland Science.

Desired research direction

Although academic by nature, my research is very applied and I work closely with stakeholders including regulatory agencies (Marine Scotland Science, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), Irish Environmental Protection Agency, Environment Canada) and industry (water utility companies, plastic manufacturing/recycling companies, diagnostic companies and the aquaculture industry) to develop practical solutions to practical problems. I am interested in furthering these collaborations that can hopefullly lead to the development of a start-up or spin-out enterprise. 

Target collaborative companies

Aquaculture: Kames Fish Farming Ltd, Marine Harvest, Europharma

Medical diagnostics: Randox diagnostics, Siemens, Abaxis

Microplastics: Plastics Europe, plastic recycling companies (WRC Recycling)

Water utility companies: Scottish Water, SAUR (Glasgow)

Target collaborative organisations

Marine Scotland Science, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), Environmental Protection Agency (Ireland), Environment Canada (St Lawrence Centre, Montreal), Food Standards Scotland (FSS).

Other areas of expertise available for knowledge exchange

Impact assessment of chemical contaminants in the environment.

Development of novel bioassays for toxicity assessment.



  • QH301 Biology
  • QL Zoology
  • SH Aquaculture. Fisheries. Angling
  • QD Chemistry

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Brian Quinn is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Oceans and Seas Medicine & Life Sciences
Dreissena Medicine & Life Sciences
Hydra Medicine & Life Sciences
aquatic environment Earth & Environmental Sciences
Phthiraptera Medicine & Life Sciences
Fresh Water Medicine & Life Sciences
Toxicity Chemical Compounds
Invertebrates Medicine & Life Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2000 2019

9 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)

Consistent microplastic ingestion by deep-sea invertebrates over the last four decades (1976-2015), a study from the North East Atlantic

Courtene-Jones, W., Quinn, B., Ewins, C., Gary, S. F. & Narayanaswamy, B. E., 31 Jan 2019, In : Environmental Pollution. 244, p. 503-512 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
14 Downloads (Pure)
Open Access
Oncorhynchus mykiss
Oceans and Seas
Health Status
8 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)

Microplastics in drinking water: a review and assessment

Eerkes-Medrano, D., Leslie, H. A. & Quinn, B., 28 Feb 2019, In : Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health. 7, p. 69-75 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Open Access
drinking water
4 Citations (Scopus)

The toxicity of potentially toxic elements (Cu, Fe, Mn, Zn and Ni) to the cnidarian Hydra attenuata at environmentally relevant concentrations

McKinley, K., McLellan, I., Gagne, F. & Quinn, B., 15 May 2019, In : Science of the Total Environment. 665, p. 848-854 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Clyde2020 Research Advisory Group (RAG)

Brian Quinn (Recipient), 2015

Prize: Appointment


Developing Environmental Research Potential, EPA (Ireland)

Brian Quinn (Recipient), 2008

Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

Fellow of the Higher Education Authority

Brian Quinn (Recipient), 2015

Prize: Election to learned society

Member of Royal Society of Biology

Brian Quinn (Recipient), 2015

Prize: Election to learned society

Postdoctoral Fellow, NSERC, Canada.

Brian Quinn (Recipient), 2003

Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

Activities 2002 2018

Biochemical Sciences

Brian Quinn (Reviewer)
Feb 2018

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Membership of peer review panel or committee

UWS Learning, Teaching & Research Conference 2018

Brian Quinn (Participant)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Environmental Chemistry Letters

Brian Quinn (Reviewer)
Apr 2018

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Membership of peer review panel or committee

European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino (EGTC); “Interregional Project Networks (IPN)”

Brian Quinn (Reviewer)
Jun 2018

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Membership of peer review panel or committee

British Council Newton Fund

Brian Quinn (Reviewer)

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Membership of peer review panel or committee

Press / Media

BBC Scotland Glitter as microplastic interview

Brian Quinn


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment


ornamental fish
fish health
fish behavior