School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

Staff Profile

Dr Luiza Lessa Andrade

Research Associate



Microbes are the most ancient forms of life inhabiting our planet. Although there is not a consensus about their origin, it is known that they promoted suitable conditions for the development of more complex organisms, and it is due to them that we are now here... studying them! Their variety of metabolism, their intra and interspecies relationships, their ability of surviving in the most inhospitable sites, their involvement in the biogeochemical cycles, their ability of degrading every compound existing in nature, etc., all these make them a fascinating topic to investigate.

My research interest is microbial ecology in the most diverse habitats. Since my PhD, I have been investigating microbial degradation of crude oil hydrocarbons in sulphate-reducing conditions. I am interested in factors that influence this process, such as availability of nutrients and oil composition. A better comprehension of these factors is crucial for the establishment of bioremediation strategies and on the control of undesired microbial activity.

Currently, I am working on a project studying microbial mats of the Abu Dhabi sabkha (Arabic word for salt flat).  My interest focuses on the microbial community composition of these unique ecosystems, which are considered the oldest forms of life on Earth (some are over 3 billion years old). Therefore, the study of microbial mats can inform our understanding of the development of life early in the history of our planet and may have relevance for assessing the possible existence of extra-terrestrial life.


  • 2002-2006: Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil

            BSc in Biological Sciences (Microbiology and Immunology)     

  • 2006-2008: Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil

            MSc in Biological Sciences (Microbiology): Medical Microbiology

  • 2008-2012: Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil, and one year (2010-2011) research training at Newcastle University, UK

            PhD in Sciences (Microbiology): Microbial Ecology

Professional Memberships

  • Society for Applied Microbiology
  • Microbiology Society



  • Microbial ecology
  • Microbial life in extreme environments
  • Geomicrobiology
  • Crude oil biodegradation
  • Bioremediation
  • Environmental Microbiology