Maya Al-Sid-Cheikh

University of Surrey


My research centres on understanding the fate and behaviour of contaminants of emerging concerns (CECs) in environmental interface compartment such as chemistry/biology, freshwater/seawater (coastal), and wetlands. To answer my questions, I draw on tools from radiolabelling, analytical and synthesis chemistry.
I also have an equal interest in promoting awareness of the barriers faced by not just women but also by members of the under-represented groups in science. I help to find solutions to address and, hopefully, remove such barriers. Since October 2019, I am a Lecturer (Assistant professor) of Environmental Analytical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Surrey (Guildford, United Kingdom), in Great London. Previously, I was a postdoctoral research fellow of chemistry in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences at the University of Plymouth (Plymouth, United Kingdom) under the supervision of Prof. Steve J. Rowland and Prof. Richard C. Thompson. Prior to joining Plymouth, I was a visiting scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG, Dubendorf, Switzerland). I completed my doctoral studies in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Rennes 1 (2015). I hold two MSc degrees: i) Analytical Chemistry from the University of Toulon (France) with a research project conducted at the University of Bordeaux 1 and ii) Oceanography from the University of Quebec at Rimouski (UQAR, Canada). I hold also a BSc degree in Chemistry from the University of Poitiers.

Short description about presentation:

The general technique of radiolabelling involves labelling a molecule with radioactive atoms to follow the fate of that molecule within a specific cell, a particular tissue, an entire organism, or even an ecosystem e.g. using mesocosms. Current use of radiotracer techniques in medicinal sciences has reduced the price of ultra-sensitive analytical equipment and made them accessible to other areas of knowledge such as biogeochemistry, ecotoxicology, environmental engineering as well as food security. Radiolabelling approaches always uses very low doses of radiation so that the labelled molecules never pose any threat to the organisms under investigation or to the experimenter. rnThe Applied Radioisotope amp; Environmental Laboratory ARIEL funded by NERC is designed for the safe handling of radioisotopes and their use as radiolabels in environmentally realistic experimental settings e.g. in sediments, soils, water and organisms. The initial focus of ARIEL is to investigate the fate, behaviour and accumulation of Contaminants of Emerging Concerns e.g. Plastic Particles and legacy contaminants e.g. Hg, Cd, Ti in the food web and diverse ecosystems. In this presentation, I will exemplify, using studies published 2018 and 2020, how the use of radioisotopes provides an accurate and precise quantification of toxicokinetic and tissue distribution of nanoparticles of plastics that were not possible before.rnThe research generated by ARIEL will be key in terms of acquiring new knowledge on the behaviour of aquatic species and ecosystems in the face of environmental stressors e.g. toxic inputs and environmental change. The laboratory provides a state-of-the-art facility for the next generation of ecotoxicology and environmental studies. While open to host external collaborative experiments, ARIEL will also offer a unique opportunity world-wide to train highly qualified personnel via the Bachelor, master and doctoral programs in radiochemistry at the University of Surrey.rnrnAl-Sid-Cheikh, M. et al. Uptake, Whole-Body Distribution, and Depuration of Nanoplastics by the Scallop Pecten maximus at Environmentally Realistic Concentrations. Environ. Sci. Technol. 52, 1448014486 2018.Al-Sid-Cheikh, M. et al. Synthesis of 14C-labelled polystyrene nanoplastics for environmental studies. Commun. Mater. 1, 97 2020.