BSc, University of Sheffield, UK
PhD University of Sheffield, UK
1989-1995. Lecturer in University College Dublin
1995-2000. Lecturer in Adelaide University, Australia
1999-2000 Visiting Research Associate, University of Liverpool
2000- present. Lecturer in School of Biology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Senior lecturer from 2005.
From Sept 2011 to Feb 2014 I was in receipt of a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship (EC FP7 funded) to study the diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi using next generation sequencing (in collaboration with Prof Tom Bruns, UC Berkeley, USA)
My academic background is in applied and environmental microbiology and I am particularly interested in microbial interactions with plants and pollutants. My current research work covers areas such as microbial spoilage of fresh produce and plant/microbial associations
1. Fresh produce spoilage by microbes : It is estimated that up to 30% of fresh produce (fruit, vegetables etc) can be lost due to microbial spoilage and I am working with plant scientists to develop novel methods (with a focus on ozone gas exposure) to reduce this spoilage. Currently we are examining microbial populations that exist on the surface of various types of vegetable produce and determining if ozone gas exposure is able to reduce microbial loads present. I am also interested in how ozone affects the growth of microbes (particularly fungi).
2. Fungal associations with plants : I recently (Sept 2011 - Feb 2014) carried out a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship (EC FP7 funding) to study the diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with pine. This was in collaboration with Prof. Tom Bruns (UC Berkeley, USA) and involved the use of next generation DNA sequencing techniques.
3. Microbe/plant interactions : More recent research projects have examined the interactions between cadmium, plants and microbes (in collaboration with Dr. Annie Borland, School of Biology, Newcastle University). I have recently been awarded a grant by the AHDB/HDC to fund a PhD student (2014-2017) to study the potential reasons behind coriander yield decline.
Current postgraduates :
Shreya Wani : Novel methods to reduce spoilage of fresh vegetable produce (HDC funded project). Co-supervised with Prof. Jerry Barnes.
Joao Fernandes (part-time overseas student based in Lisbon): Rapid nucleic acid based methods to detect E. coli in environmental samples. Co-supervised with Prof Jerry Barnes
Hartati Oktarina : The effect of silver nanoparticle contamination on beneficial soil fungi. Co-supervised with Prof. Anne Borland.
Hamida Idris : Actinomycete diversity in Atacama desert soils (Main supervisor : Prof Mike Goodfellow)
Kate Fraser : The reasons and potential solutions for coriander yield decline (AHDB funded project). Co-supervised with Prof Anne Borland.
Member of SETAC UK Council (2003-2006)
Invited on Editorial Board of Journal of Environmental Sciences (China)
Co founder of BioFresh Ltd
Co-founder of Geneius Laboratories Ltd.
Organised SETAC UK conference in Newcastle Sept 2005.
Council member of the British Mycological Society : 2007 to 2010
Research : I have been involved in approximately £1 million of external funding from a variety of sources including UK research councils (BBSRC, NERC and EPSRC), industry and the EC (EC Asia-Link award and EC Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship).
My research has led directly to the formation of two University spin out companies and the social and economic impact of these companies has been recognised by the NERC. See the below link - the companies are described on page 9 in Section 2.1 'NERC Science grows the UK food industry'
For further details about these companies you can also visit the company web-sites :
www.geneiuslabs.com : I was a co-founder of Geneius Laboratories Ltd (along with other School of Biology colleagues - Prof Jerry Barnes and Drs Jem Stach and Tahar Taybi) : a company using both traditional microbiology and molecular biology techniques to identify microbes from food and environmental samples.
http://www.bio-fresh.com/home/ : I co-founded this company in collaboration with Prof Jerry Barnes. The company uses novel techniques to preserve fresh produce during storage.
Previous PhD students in Newcastle:
James Clapp: Pollutant exposure biomarkers in birds. In collaboration with Dr. R. Bevan (Newcastle)
Phattanawan Pronmin : Cadmium uptake by pineapple. Co-supervised with Dr. Anne Borland (Newcastle)
Hakima Althalb : Bioremediation of oil contaminated sandy soils. In collaboration with the Libyan Petroleum Research Institute, Tripoli, Libya.
Louise Pease : NERC CASE award with Astra Zeneca. Toxicogenomics of yeast. Co-supervised by Ian Head (Newcastle), Simon Avery (University of Nottingham) and Jason Snape (Astra Zeneca). Completed PhD in January 2011.
Zoe Keatinge : NERC funded student. Development of novel methods to assess the bioavailability of contaminants in soil
Collaboration with Professor Faith Williams and Dr. Elaine Mutch, Medical School, University of Newcastle. Completed PhD 2006
Chris Malkin : NERC funded student. Microbial spoilage of fresh produce. Collaboration with Dr. Jerry Barnes, University of Newcastle. Completed 2008
Nikos Tsortzakis : Greek government funded PhD student. Microbial spoilage of produce. Collaboration with Dr. Jerry Barnes, Dr Tahir Taybi and Dr. Anne Borland, University of Newcastle. Completed 2006
Eva Tallentire : Industry funded PhD student : Novel methods to decontaminate fresh food produce. Co-supervised with Dr. Jerry Barnes. Completed 2007
Elisabeth Clare Lowe : Main supervisor is Clive Butler (University of Exeter. BBSRC studentship on Microbial diversity of selenate reducers in soil. Completed 2008.
Stage 1 : Contributor to BIO1010
Stage 2 : Module leader for Microbiology 2 (BIO2017)
Stage 3 : Module leader for BIO3020 : Bioremediation
Supervise Stage 3 research, bio-information and literature review projects
Co-Degree Programme Director for MSc Industrial and Commercial Biotechnology
Module leader for BIO8010 : Bioremediation
Supervise MSc research projects