Stuart Ramage

PhD student
James Hutton Ltd
T: +44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

Stuart is a PhD researcher affiliated with the Environmental and Biochemical Sciences group at the James Hutton Institute and the School of Engineering at Robert Gordon University (RGU), Aberdeen. He completed a BSc (Hons) in Forensic & Analytical Science at RGU in 2019. Stuart began his PhD at the James Hutton Institute in October 2019 working on microplastics in the terrestrial environment.

Stuart's PhD research is focused on microplastics in soils in Scotland. Microplastic research has mainly been conducted on the marine environment despite evidence suggesting plastic pollution is 4-23 times higher in soil compared to marine waters. Common soil additions such as composts and sewage sludge are continously being applied to soils worldwide and have been found to contain alarmingly high levels of microplastics. There is evidence to suggest microplastics impose adverse effects on microbial communities which impacts nutrient cycling and soil health/fertility, therefore having impacts on plant growth and health, among other implications. It is therefore timely and important to understand the extent and impacts of microplastic pollution in Scotland to help address and inform future mitigation and remediation strategies for the protection of one of Scotland's most valuable natural assets.

This PhD includes determining the temporal and spatial distribution of microplastics in Scottish soils, investigating their transport and fate in soils, and elucidating their impact on soil functions and ecosystem services. Stuart's research is overseen by a diverse team of supervisors including Dr Eulyn Pagaling, Prof Lorna Dawson and Dr Sandhya Devalla from the James Hutton Institute, and Dr Radhakrishna Prabhu and Dr Kyari Yates from RGU, to work on this inter-disciplinary PhD project.

Stuart has recently developed a novel method for the extraction of microplastics from soil using high-gradient magnetic separation, whereby the technique shall be used to extract microplastics for determining their quantity and distribution in Scottish soils.

Past research

In 2018, Stuart was awarded a highly competitive undergraduate studentship from the Royal Society of Chemistry's Separation Science Group to undertake a research project to develop a novel enantioselective liquid chromatography – tandem mass spectrometry methodology for multiresidue anthropogenic markers in septic tank effluents and river water. This was used to assess the contamination of pharmaceuticals and other anthropogenic markers from septic tanks to surface water and investigate their dissemination into the aqueous environment. The project was undertaken at RGU under the supervision of Dr Bruce Petrie.


Prior to appointment

Conference papers

  • Dawson, L.; Zhang, Z.; Ramage, S. (2023) Forensics and pollutants (plasticisers and microplastics, Poster presentation and on SEFARI Gateway website.