Timothy Sullivan


Tim ‍earned his BSc in Environmental Science at UCC, before completing his PhD within the Marine and Environmental Sensing Technology Hub, the School of Chemical Sciences and the National Centre for Sensor Research at Dublin City University. He held several postdoctoral positions at DCU before moving to the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e).

Since 2016, he has acted as lecturer of Environmental Science at University College Cork, where he is also head of MESA. He has contributed substantially to the undergraduate Environmental Science programme, and contributes at postgraduate level to the MSc in Applied Environmental Geology and co-ordinates the MRes in Environmental Sciences.

In 2021, Tim was appointed as the Director of the UNEP GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre (CDC), a centre established to provide global capacity development in water quality monitoring and assessment.

Research Interests

Tim’s main interests lie at the interface of marine and aquatic chemistry, analytical chemistry and materials science. He is interested in novel bio-inspired (and biomimetic) materials, climate change and the marine environment, and the use of sensors in environmental monitoring. 

He has worked on aquatic microbial communities, biofilms and benthic diatoms, and the development of novel materials for the prevention of biological growth on materials, including nano-material based coatings, micro- and nano-topographically structured surfaces and omniphobic materials.

At the moment, Tim supervises three PhD candidates and one Masters student, as well as overseeing a number of undergraduate research projects.


  • Biomimetic materials
  • Anti-biofouling materials
  • Aquatic microbial communities
  • Environmental monitoring sensors
  • The effects of climate change on the marine environment


Select recent publications:

Year Citation
2022 Chapman, D. V., and T. Sullivan. "The role of water quality monitoring in the sustainable use of ambient waters." One Earth 5(2): 132-137 (2022). [DOI]
Sullivan, T., and I. O'Callaghan. "Understanding the Source, Behaviour and Fate of Nanoplastics in Aquatic Environments." in Influence of Microplastics on Environmental and Human Health: Key Considerations and Future Perspectives (Ed. Y. Lang), CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, USA (2022).
O'Callaghan, I.; Fitzpatrick, D., and T. Sullivan. "Thiophilicity is a determinant of bioaccumulation in benthic fauna." Environmental Pollution 294 (2022). [DOI]
2021 Binner, H.; Kamali, N.; Harding, M., and T. Sullivan. "Characteristics of wastewater originating from dental practices using predominantly mercury-free dental materials." Science of the Total Environment, 152632 (2021). [DOI]
2020 Sullivan, T., and I. O'Callaghan. "Recent advances in biomimetic antifouling materials: A review." Biomimetics 5.4 (2020): 58. [DOI]
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan"Shedding the load: moulting as a cause of variability in whole-body metal concentrations." Journal of Crustacean Biology 40 (2020): 725-733. [DOI] 
Power, B.; O'Connor, E.; Eakins, J.; McInerney, C.; Hellebust, S. and T. Sullivan. "Environmental Outcomes From Licence Enforcement Activity (2017-SE-MS-10)" EPA Research Report (2020). [Link]
Quinlivan, L.; Chapman, D. V., and T. Sullivan"Applying citizen science to monitor for the Sustainable Development Goal Indicator 6.3. 2: a review." Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 192.4 (2020): 1-11. [DOI]
Quinlivan, L.; Chapman, D. and T. Sullivan"Validating citizen science monitoring of ambient water quality for the United Nations sustainable development goals" Science of the Total Environment 699 (2020): 134255. [DOI]
2019 Kommeren, S.; Guerin, A. J.; Dale, M. L.; Ferguson, J.; Lyall, G.; Reynolds, K. J.; Clare, A. S.; Bastiaansen, C. W. M., and T. Sullivan. "Antifouling and Fouling-Release Performance of
Photo-Embossed Fluorogel Elastomers." Journal of Marine Science and Engineering 7 (2019): 419. [DOI]
O'Callaghan, I.; Harrison, S. S. C.; Fitzpatrick, D. and T. Sullivan. "The freshwater isopod Asellus aquaticus as a model biomonitor of environmental pollution: A review" Chemosphere 235 (2019): 498-509. [DOI]
Harrison, S. S. C.; McAree, C.; Mulville, W. and T. Sullivan. "The problem of agricultural ‘diffuse’ pollution: Getting to the point" Science of the Total Environment 667 (2019): 700-717. [DOI]
Sullivan, T. "Cell Shape and Surface Colonisation in the Diatom Genus Cocconeis—An Opportunity to Explore Bio-Inspired Shape Packing" Biomimetics 4.2 (2019). [DOI]
2017 Sullivan, T., and F. Regan. "Marine diatom settlement on microtextured materials in static field trials." Journal of Materials Science 52.10 (2017): 5846-5856. [DOI] [Details]
2016 O' Neill, P.; Barrett, A.; Sullivan, T.; Regan, F. and D. Brabazon. "Rapid Prototyped Biomimetic Antifouling Surfaces for Marine Applications." Materials Today 3(2) (2016):527-532 [Details]
Power, A. C.; Barrett, A.; Abubakar, J.; Suarez, L. J.; Ryan, L.; Wencel, D.; Sullivan, T. and F. Regan. "Versatile Self-Cleaning Coating Production Through Sol-Gel Chemistry." Advanced Engineering Materials 18 (2016):76-82 [DOI] [Details]
Kommeren, S., T. Sullivan, and C. W. M. Bastiaansen. "Tunable surface topography in fluoropolymers using photo-embossing." RSC Advances 6.73 (2016): 69117-69123. [DOI] [Details]
2015 Murphy, K.; Heery, B.; Sullivan, T.; Zhang, D.; Paludetti, L.; Lau, K. T.; Diamond, D.; Costa, E.; O'Connor, N.; F. Regan. "A low-cost autonomous optical sensor for water quality monitoring." Talanta 132 (2015):520-527 [DOI] [Details]
2014 Sullivan, T., et al. "Characterization and anti-settlement aspects of surface micro-structures from Cancer pagurus." Bioinspiration & biomimetics 9.4 (2014): 046003. [DOI] [Details]
Sullivan, T., et al. "Determination of spatial and temporal variability of pH and dissolved oxygen concentrations in a seasonally hypoxic semi-enclosed marine basin using continuous monitoring." Analytical Methods 6.15 (2014): 5489-5497. [DOI] [Details] 
Briciu-Burghina, C.; Sullivan, T.; Chapman, J. and F. Regan. "Continuous high-frequency monitoring of estuarine water quality as a decision support tool: a Dublin Port case study." Environmental Monitoring And Assessment 186 (2014):5561-5580 [DOI] [Details]

Professional Activity

Organisation Status
Association for Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) Member
Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland (ESAI) Member and former Committee Member
Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) Member
Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Member


Select recent conference contributions:

Year Citation
2022   O'Callaghan, I., Fitzpatrick, D. and T. Sullivan. "Improving freshwater contaminant quantification by drawing upon intrinsic bioaccumulative properties." Environ 2022, Belfast, United Kingdom (2022). 
Nzekwe, C. A., Chapman, D. and T. Sullivan. "Metal Bioaccumulation through Water and Feeds in Nigerian Fish." Environ 2022, Belfast, United Kingdom (2022).
O'Callaghan, I., Fitzpatrick, D. and T. Sullivan. "Intrinsic properties of metallic contaminants govern bioaccumulation behaviour." SETAC Europe 32nd Annual Meeting, Copenhagen, Denmark (2022). 
O'Callaghan, I.; Fitzpatrick, D., and T. Sullivan. "A metric for the relative accumulation of metals in benthic fauna." IFSA Annual Scientific Meeting, Dublin, Ireland (2022).
2021 O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "Uncharted waters: UV filters in the freshwater environment." ENVIRON 2021, Online (2021). 
Binner, H.; Sullivan, T. and M. E. McNamara. "Systematic review of metal contamination in European soils: progress and future directions." ENVIRON 2021, Online (2021). 
Cowhig, K., Sullivan, T., and S. Harrison. "Lake-dwelling pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera) - A unique Irish phenomenon?" ENVIRON 2021, Online (2021). 
Binner, H.; Sullivan, T. and M. E. McNamara. "Metal contamination of urban soils in Cork, Ireland." EGU 2021, Online (2021).
Cowhig, K., Sullivan, T., and S. Harrison. "Lake dwelling pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera L.) - A unique Irish Phenomenon?" IFSA Annual Scientific Meeting, Online (2021). [Details
McSorley, B., Sullivan, T., and S. Harrison. "The Citizen Science Stream Index - a novel, simple, biomonitoring protocol for non-experts." IFSA Annual Scientific Meeting, Online (2021). [Details
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "Destroyed, not defeated: Ireland's legacy of aquatic pollution." IFSA Annual Scientific Meeting, Online (2021). [Details
2020 Sullivan, T.; Binner, H.; Kamali, N., and M. Harding. "Characteristics of wastewater associated with dental practice." ENVIRON 2020, Online (2020). 
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "Modelling the effect of moulting on metallic pollutant accumulation in freshwater macroinvertebrates." ENVIRON 2020, Online (2020). 
Binner, H.; Sullivan, T. and M. E. McNamara. "The impact of organic matter on heavy meta bioavailability in urban soils: experimental and field-based approaches." GSI Geoscience 2020, Online (2020).
Binner, H.; Sullivan, T.; Hayes, M. and M. Harding. "Characterisation of dental wastewaters associated with the use of mercury-free materials." SETAC Europe 30th Annual Meeting, Online (2020).
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "Trace metal bioaccumulation in freshwater macroinvertebrates: a comparative approach of lab and field studies." SETAC Europe 30th Annual Meeting, Online (2020).
Binner, H.; Sullivan, T. and M. E. McNamara. "The impact of organic matter on heavy meta bioavailability in urban soils: experimental and field-based approaches." Irish Geological Research Meeting (IGRM) 2020, Athlone, Ireland (2020).
2019 Sullivan, T. "Taking the rough with the smooth: controlling surface topography as an antifouling strategy– recent progress and new insights?" (Invited Speaker) 4th ANZPAC Workshop for Biofouling Management and Sustainable Shipping/1st GEF-UNDP-IMO GloFouling R&D Forum and Exhibition on Biofouling Management, Melbourne, Australia (2019). [Details] [News Item]
Binner, H.; Sullivan, T.; Kamali, N.; Hayes, M. and M. Harding. "Assessment of the potential environmental impacts arising from mercury-free dental restorative materials."  International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Annual Meeting, Cork, Ireland (2019).
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "On the micro-structural features of a pollution-tolerant freshwater isopod, Asellus aquaticus." ESA Annual Meeting, Louisville, KY, USA (2019).
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "The effects of surfactants on the microbial biofilm associated with the benthic isopod Asellus aquaticus." 17th International Conference on Chemistry and the Environment, Thessaloniki, Greece (2019).
O'Callaghan, I.; Harrison, S. S. C.; Fitzpatrick, D. and T. Sullivan. "The benthic isopod Asellus aquaticus as a model biomonitor for metallic nanoparticle pollution in freshwater systems." SETAC Europe 29th Annual Meeting, Helsinki, Finland (2019).
O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "Asellus aquaticus as a potential biomonitor of trace metal pollution in freshwaters." ENVIRON 2019, Carlow, Ireland (2019).
Quinlivan, L.; Chapman, D. and T. Sullivan. "Science of the future? - Does citizen science provide a means of monitoring water quality for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?" ENVIRON 2019, Carlow, Ireland (2019).
Binner, H.; Kamali, N.; Harding, M. and T. Sullivan"Assessment of the potential environmental impacts arising from mercury-free dental restorative materials." ENVIRON 2019, Carlow, Ireland (2019).
2018 Binner, H.; Kamali, N.; Harding, M. and T. Sullivan"Assessment of the environmental and health impacts arising from mercury-free dental restorative materials." Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Health Service Executive (HSE) “Knowledge and Data" Conference, Dublin, Ireland (2018).
2017 O'Callaghan, I., and T. Sullivan. "The potential of Asellus aquaticus as a biomonitor of heavy metal pollution in freshwater environments." Analytical Arena, Maynooth, Ireland (2017). [Details]


Research Grants

Project Funding Body Start/End Dates Award
Flexible Environmental Monitoring Platforms: FLEXIMON (as collaborator) Marine Institute 01-APR-18 / 01-APR-19 €77,243.03
Less HG - Assessment of the environment and health impacts arising from mercury-free dental restorative materials (as collaborator) Environmental Protection Agency (Ireland) 01-OCT-18 / 01-OCT-20 €150,000.00
Macroinvertebrates as a novel biomonitor for nanoparticles in freshwater systems Irish Research Council / Environmental Protection Agency (Ireland) 01-OCT-18 / 30-SEP-22 €102,124.86


Other Links:



Email: timothy.sullivan@ucc.ie
Phone: +353 (0)21 490 4662

Dr Tim Sullivan (Lecturer)
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES),
University College Cork,
Distillery Fields Campus,
North Mall,
Cork T23 TK30,



Timothy Sullivan

Contact Details:


Head of Group & Director of GEMS/Water CDC


BSc (Hons) Environmental Science; PhD

Research Area:

Environmental Science, Materials Science


Principal Investigator

Materials & Environmental Science Applications

Grúpa Taighde d'Ábhair & Feidhmeanna Eolaíocht Chomhshaoil

School of BEES, University College Cork, Cork Enterprise Centre, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, T23 TK30

Funding Sources