Dr Rebecca Cordell

Research Fellow

School/Department: Chemistry, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)7967212228


Address: Space Park Leicester, 92 Corporation Road, Leicester, LE4 5SP


I am a senior research scientist working within the Atmospheric Chemistry group based at the new Space Park Leicester campus. My research expertise lies in the measurement small molecular weight compounds from both the environment and biological systems, using techniques such as two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled mass spectrometry (GCxGC-MS) and proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (PTR-MS).

I also have extensive experience in air quality monitoring and run the University of Leicester equipment at the DEFRA air quality station based at main campus where, alongside the legislated pollutants, we measure the levels of the especially health relevant ultra-fine particles and black carbon. I have a particular interest in the impact of exposure to poor air quality on health with a focus on volatile organic compound (VOC) exposure, and also the potential use of VOCs as novel biomarkers for disease diagnosis and stratification.


My current areas of research include:

  • Examining the volatile organic compound (VOC) composition of indoor air and its potential impact on health through the Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Environmental Exposures and Health based at Leicester.
  • Monitoring contamination of equipment designed for the storage, handling and analysis of samples returned from Mars.
  • Investigating the changes in atmosphere composition induced by COVID lockdowns with particular focus on particle size composition in association with the University of Brighton.
  • Looking at the contribution of wood burning to particulate pollution in Leicester as part of a Leicester City Council DEFRA funded collaboration examining the role of behavioural change on air pollution.
  • Assessing the feasibility of exhaled breath as a diagnostic tool for respiratory disease.


R.L. Cordell, R.P. Panchal, E. Bernard et al. (2021) Volatile Organic Compound Composition of Urban Air in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria. Atmosphere, 12 (10), pp. 1329. DOI:

W. Ibrahim* R.L. Cordell* M.J. Wilde et al. (2021) Diagnosis of COVID-19 by exhaled breath analysis using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. ERJ Open Research, 7 (3), pp. 00139. DOI:

K.P. Wyche, R.L. Cordell, M.L. Smith et al. (2020) The spatio-temporal evolution of black carbon in the North-West European ‘air pollution hotspot'. Atmospheric Environment , 243 , pp. 117874. DOI:

R. Peltrini, R.L. Cordell, W. Ibrahim et al. (2020) Volatile organic compounds in a headspace sampling system and asthmatics sputum samples. J Breath Res, 15 (2). DOI:

R.L. Cordell, T.S.E. Valkenburg, H.C. Pandya et al. (2018) Quantitation of salbutamol using micro-volume blood sampling - applications to exacerbations of pediatric asthma. J Asthma, 55 (11), pp. 1205. DOI:

G. Burgos-Barragan, N. Wit, J. Meiser et al. (2017) Mammals divert endogenous genotoxic formaldehyde into one-carbon metabolism. Nature, 548 (7669), pp. 549. DOI:

R.L. Cordell, M. Mazet, C. Dechoux et al. (2016) Evaluation of biomass burning across North West Europe and its impact on air quality. Atmospheric Environment, 141 , pp. 276. DOI:


I currently supervise PhD Studentships in the following areas:

  • Volatile organic compound emissions from desktop 3D printers and indoor air quality
  • Indoor air exposures to VOCs and mould and relationship with severe asthma 
  • The development and validation of a panel of volatile biomarkers of airway eosinophilia in severe asthma


  • BSc Molecular Cell Biology (Nottingham)
  • PhD "A Novel Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Method for Nucleotide Analysis in Biological Matrices" (Nottingham)
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