John Parsons' field of expertise is the environmental distribution and fate of organic compounds. Specific research interests include the microbial degradation of organic contaminants such as PCBs, PAHs, BTEX, brominated flame-retardants and pesticides in soil, sediment and ground- and surface water under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Other interests are the sorption of organic compounds to soil, sediment and dissolved organic matter and the influence this has on the bioavailability of the contaminants. He was coordinator of the European project ABACUS , a research project aimed at developing methods to assess the bioavailability of organic contaminants in soil and sediment, and principal investigator for the UvA in the European projects BIOSTIMUL, FIRE and ENFIRO and the NWO-TRIAS project " Resilience of the groundwater-ecosystem in reaction to anthropogenic disturbances " investigating. for example, the environmental risks of brominated flame retardants and environmentally compatible alternatives and the anaerobic biodegradation of aromatic hydrocarbons. Recent projects address the environmental fate of engineered nanoparticles (part of the NanoNextNL programme), the role of adaptation of microbial populations in the biodegradation of persistent chemicals (the CEFIC LRI- ECO29 project Chemadapt) and the treatment and reuse of industrial wastewater in the Water Nexus programme.
John Parsons studied chemistry at the University of Manchester, where he specialised in bioinorganic chemistry. After a period in scientific publishing with Elsevier, he returned to academia to study environmental chemistry at the University of Amsterdam. This was followed by a PhD project on the biodegradation of chlorinated aromatic compounds under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Otto Hutzinger. He later became a member of staff of this department and is now assistant professor in the Ecosystem and Landscape Dynamics department of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics.