Russell is an analytical chemist who started his career applying trace metal and stable isotope analyses to trace ocean processes. As a Professor at the University of Otago, Russell established the Forensic Analytical Science Major and provided forensic evidence to the courts. Russell founded Isotrace in 2003 and then co-founded Oritain in 2008. From 2012 to 2016 he was employed at the IAEA/ FAO to establish a food traceability programme. Russell retired from his academic position in 2021 and has since been full-time with Oritain as Chief Scientist.