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Dr Nicholle G. A. Bell


Originally hailing from Dunblane, Nicholle spent her educational years in Edinburgh. Completing her MChem with Environmental Chemistry degree in 2011 and PhD in Chemistry in 2015 at the University of Edinburgh. Her postgraduate research focused on designing 3D/4D NMR experiments for unravelling the identity of molecules in complex environmental mixtures.

After her postgraduate studies, Nicholle was appointed as the NMR coordinator for Scotland to promote NMR spectroscopy in schools, SMEs and universities. Working with Nanalysis, a Canadian benchtop NMR spectrometer company, this post saw the first use of benchtop NMR spectrometers in Scottish universities and high schools.

In October 2016 Nicholle secured a 3-year NERC Soil Security Programme fellowship to link molecular-level metrics to peatland health status. In 2019, Nicholle was awarded a prestigious 5-year NERC Independent Research Fellowship to examine peatland health and carbon cycling across the Northern Hemisphere using a combination of next-generation sequencing and high resolution NMR and MS spectroscopy. She now leads efforts in the School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh to understand the synergies between the molecules and microbes in promoting healthy peatlands.

Research Interests

Nicholle's research interests include:

-        molecular characterisation of complex natural organic matter by liquid-state/solid-state 1D-nD NMR and FT-ICR-MS.

-        design of novel NMR experiments for complex environmental mixtures.

-        combination of microbial and high resolution spectroscopic methods for understanding the role microbes and molecules play in soil health.


Public Engagement and Outreach

'we should not keep our research and passion for science to ourselves'

Nicholle is passionate about public engagement and outreach. As part of her postgraduate experience she set up the RSC's Spectroscopy in a Suitcase (SIAS) programme in Scotland. This scheme brings miniature spectrometers to high schools across the UK to allow pupils to learn about the wonders of spectroscopy in their classrooms. As Scottish NMR coordinator, schools across Scotland were given the opportunity to use benchtop NMR spectrometers in the classroom. If you are interested in finding out more about these schemes in Scotland, please contact the School of Chemistry, Outreach Team

Nicholle and the Bell group now create or participate in outreach events across the UK, such as the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Royal Society Summer Exhibition or one off events such as NERC Unearthed.


If you would like to find out more about the science we do or want to arrange a visit to your school or our labs, please contact us.

Awards and memberships 

Joseph Black Award, RSC, 2017

The Principal's Medal for Service to the Community, University of Edinburgh, 2014


Elected Member of the Faraday Division Council, RSC


NERC Peer Review College Member


Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry


Member of the British Society of Soil Science

Outside of the lab...

Nicholle is a keen hill-walker, cyclist and enjoys the outdoors. Nicholle enjoys a dram, crime novels, landscape photography and watching a range of sports from tennis to international rugby. She is also well-known for her ability to complete 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles in a few hours and for making awesome fajitas!

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