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Professor David Polya was educated at the Friends' School, Hobart and the University of Tasmania. He completed his PhD at The University of Manchester on the geochemistry of the Panasqueira tungsten-tin deposit, Portugal. Polya has worked as a field hydrogeologist (at what is now Mineral Resources Tasmania), a computer programmer (Monash University), a high temperature experimentalist (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee) and a geochemical consultant (GeoScience Limited, Falmouth, UK). His current research interests include field, laboratory and theoretical studies in environmental geochemistry, particularly with respect to arsenic in shallow aquifers in Bengal and Southeast Asia. He is an Associate Director of the Williamson Research Centre and Head of the Manchester Analytical Geochemistry Unit . He is currently FSE Associate Dean for Internationalisaiton having formerly had a roles a FSE Head of Internationalisation for India. 

Recent research projects coordinated include Newton-NERC-EPSRC (UK) - Department of Science and Technology (India) funded UK-India Water Quality project FAR-GANGA.  the FP6 AquaTRAIN Marie Curie Research Training Network, the FP6 EU ASIA-LINK CALIBRE Project and the UKIERI PRAMA Project. Prof Polya has published over 60 papers , is (or was) a member of the editorial boards for Applied GeochemistryMineralogy MagazineWQEH  and Water,  and has been involved in the organisation of numerous international conferences including Arsenic 2012ISEG 2012 AveiroICOBTE 2011 FlorenceAquaTRAIN W8 Orleans,Arsenic 2010


BSc (Hons) Tasmania 1982; PhD Manchester 1987;

Research interests

Hydrogeochemistry, Mineral Deposits, Environmental & Analytical Geochemistry

Further information

Recent Research Grants (as PI)

NERC £ 86,712 (fEC) Rare earth element (REE) behaviour in alkaline mineral systems. Awarded to Polya (PI) & Campbell (Researcher Co-Investigator) in collaboration with Graham (UNSW, Australia), Pearce (Aberystwyth University) & Chenery (BGS). July 2013. NE/L002418/1.

NERC £ 755,124 (fEC). Predicting Secular Changes in Arsenic Hazard in Circum-Himalayan Groundwaters. Awarded to Polya (PI), Ballentine & van Dongen (University of Manchester) with Boyce (SUERC), Bryant (RCL), Kuras (British Geological Survey), Sovann, Eliyan (RUPP, Cambodia), Shantz (RDI, Cambodia), Fendorf (Stanford, USA), Benner (Boise State, USA), Polizzotto (NCSU, USA). July 2012. NE/J023833/1.

TECHOLOGY STRATEGY BOARD. £ 242,415 (fEC). Adsorption and electrochemical oxidation of aqueous organic waste. Awarded to Polya (Lead Academic); van Dongen (Knowledge Base Supervisor); Brown & Miller (Arvia Technology Limited). July 2012. KTP0859.

STFC DIAMOND. 6 days beamtime I18. Contrasting mobilisation of arsenic in Holocene and Pleistocene Cambodian sediments amended by different organic matter sources . Awarded to Polya (PI) , Van Dongen, Lloyd, Hery (University of Manchester), Pancost (Bristol) June 2009. AP6/1801.

NERC £ 20,800 C-14 dating in relation to “Isotopic tracing of organic carbon and its role in arsenic release in a Cambodian Aquifer. Awarded to Polya (PI), Lawson, Ballentine, Van Dongen, Lloyd, Hery, Al Lawati (University of Manchester), Bryant (RCL), Boyce (SUERC, Fendorf, Polizzoto, Kocar (Stanford University, USA), Benner (Boise State University, USA), Pancost (Bristol)  May 2009. Radiocarbon Analysis Allocation Number 1411.0409

British Council /UKIERI £ 113 K PRAMA: Probabilisitic risk assessment modelling for mitigation of arsenic in groundwaters in West Bengal. Awarded to Polya (PI; UK Team Leader); Giri (IICB, Kolkata, India, India Team Leader). Standard Research Grant. March 2008

European Community Asia-Link EUR 619,867.00 CALIBRE: Cambodia and Laos Initiative for Building human Resources for the Environment. FP6 ASIALINK. Awarded to Polya (PI / Coordinator), Charlet (Universite Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France), Dany (RUPP, Cambodia) & Phiphakkhavong (NUOL, Lao PDR). December 2007.

CCLRC 3 days beamtime Daresbury SRS"Molecular ecology of arsenic" Awarded to Polya (PI), Lloyd, Hery, Hegan & Omoregie, March 2008 (50/194)

NERC Isotope Geosciences Facilities Access (equiv. £ 9,000) Isotopic tracers (δD, δ180, δ13C) of surface derived components of arsenic rich shallow aquifers of SE Asia Awarded to Polya (PI) et al. Jan. 2008 (IP/1013/1107)

European Community FP6 Marie Curie RTN. Max. EUR 3,150,000.00 "AquaTRAIN: Geogenic Contaminants in Groundwaters and Soils: A Research Training Network", Sept 2006 (MRTN-CT-2006-035420).

My group

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Areas of expertise

  • QE Geology
  • hydrogeochemistry
  • environment and health
  • analytical geochemistry
  • Water quality

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Futures
  • Manchester Environmental Research Institute
  • Healthier Futures


  • environment
  • health
  • hydrogeochemistry
  • water
  • exposure science
  • environmental geochemistry


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