Centre for Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy

Staff Profile

Dr Gary Caldwell

Senior Lecturer in Applied Marine Biology


Roles and Responsibilities

Marine Science Postgraduate Research Student Selector

Chair of the Board of Studies for Biology and Marine Science Undergraduate degree programmes


  • B. Sc.(Hons 1st Class) Uni. Wales, Bangor
  • Ph. D. Newcastle University

Previous Positions

  • 2005-6. Marine Biology Teaching Fellow, Newcastle University
  • 2004. NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship (University of Calgary and Environment Canada)
  • 2003-4. Research Associate, Newcastle University, Soil Association Scotland.



Research Interests

Google Scholar profile

My research interests and activities are broad in nature. The main research themes are described below.

Algae Biotechnology

I am active in developing algae (both micro- and macroalgae) as sources of marine biofuels and bioactive products, working on aspects of algae culture, anaerobic digestion (including the recently completed £2.8 million InnovateUK-BBSRC SeaGas project), low energy harvesting systems (notably foam flotation), functional biocomposites, and for a range of ecosystem services. I also apply algae biotechnology in rather more unconventional scenarios, for example as part of our built environment - see the Euro 3.4 million H2020 project, Living Architecture. A major focus of my current work is on algae biocomposites for CO2 capture and wastewater remediation, working in partnership with Northumbrian Water Ltd and Northumbria University.

Chemical Ecology

I have long standing interests related to plant, animal and microbial interactions which are mainly modulated by chemically driven processes, e.g. production of toxic metabolites (e.g. polyunsaturated aldehydes) and/or the production of non-toxic but otherwise biologically active compounds. I am especially interested in the role of algal-derived compounds in structuring aquatic food webs. 

Ecotoxicology and Marine Venoms

I am interested in the biological response of organisms following exposure to xenobiotics and marine venoms, particularly where multiple stressors are involved. Current work revolves around the impacts of multiple stressors on microalgae and copepods and we are partners in two Research Council of Norway funded programmes in ecotoxicology and environmental risk assessment.

Marine Microbiomes

I am currently working on characterising the microbiomes associated with hadal trench amphipods, coastal sponges, sea cucumber, seaweeds and microalgae.

Current Postgraduate Supervision

  • Chineze Agatha Agbanelo (PhD) - Biocomposite systems for enhanced sustainable phycocyanin production. Co-supervised with Dr Jonathan Lee.
  • Sakinah Alhaddad (PhD) - Biogeographical variation in sponge microbiomes. Co-supervised with Prof. Tony Clare.
  • Sarah Alsaif (PhD) - Anti-microbial activity of metallic nanoparticles synthesised from macroalgae. Co-supervised with Prof. Grant Burgess.
  • Prayoon Enmak (PhD) - Intensifying foam flotation for harvesting microalgae. Co-supervised with Prof. Adam Harvey and Dr Jon Lee.
  • Iain Hope (PhD) - RuBisCo dynamics in cold adapted algae. Co-supervised with Dr Maxim KapralovDr Jon Telling and Dr Dana Ofiteru.
  • Chi-Yen Hsieh (PhD) - Bioremediation of malachite green in aquaculture. Co-supervised with Dr Isabel Smallegange.
  • Alex Johnson (MPhil) - Low cost sensors for algae photobioreactors. Co-supervised with Dr Otti Croze.
  • Robin Kaur (MPhil) - Ecotoxicological assessment using Arctic and cold adapted microalgae. Co-supervised with Dr Maxim Kapralov and Dr Adam Jarvis. 
  • Phoebe Lewis (MPhil) - Making sustainable paints from seaweeds. Co-supervised with Dr Jon Lee.
  • Darcy Macdonald (MPhil) - Drivers of venom gene transcription in the upside-down jellyfish Cassiopea xamachana. Co-supervised with Dr Jem Stach.
  • Belinda Njumo (PhD) - Developing algae biofuel technology for Cameroon. Co-supervised with Dr Ethan Hack and Dr Thomas Howard.
  • Matthew Pickersgill (PhD) - Microalgae and wastewater treatment: an industrial case study. Co-supervised with Dr Jon Lee.
  • Jess Sennett-Seale (MPhil) - Carbon uptake in the upside-down jellyfish Cassiopea xamachana. Co-supervised with Dr Will Reid.
  • Assia Crawford (PhD) - Living Building Practice - Designing for a Post-Anthropocene Era. Co-supervised with Prof. Rachel Armstrong and Dr Ben Bridgens. [Pending corrections]
  • Natalie Waite (MPhil) - Neutral modelling of complex microbial systems. Co-supervised with Dr Will Reid.  

Completed PhDs: Dr Rebecca Taylor 2007 [The role of diatom aldehydes in the benthos: grazing defence or diatom signal molecule?]; Dr Hannah Dunston 2008 [Impacts of algal biotoxins on the freshwater survival of Atlantic salmon]; Dr Helen Pagett 2012 [Characterising glycans involved in barnacle gregariousness]; Dr Susan Fitzer 2012 [Multigenerational effects of CO2-induced ocean acidification on the copepod Tisbe battagliai]; Dr Thea Coward 2012 [Foam fractionation: an effective technology for harvesting microalgae biomass]; Dr Hilary Redden 2012 [Seasonal aspects relating to the potential use of macroalgae as biofuel]; Dr Alessandra Gallina 2012 [The role of polyunsaturated aldehydes in the life and biology of the marine diatom Skeletonema marinoi in culture and in situ]; Dr Supanut Pairohakul 2013 [Evidence for polyunsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis in the ragworm (Nereis virens) and the lugworm (Arenicola marina)]; Dr Helen Graham 2014 [Determining the impacts of ocean acidification on reproductive and developmental fitness of marine invertebrates]; Dr Alanoud Rawdhan 2015 [Ultrastructural studies of micro-algae in infochemical manipulated mass culture]; Dr Guang Gao 2016 [Developing systems for the commercial culture of Ulva species in the UK]; Dr Norlaila Mohd Zanuri 2016 [The effects of environmental contaminants and ocean acidification on reproductive success in marine invertebrates]; Dr Chelsea Brain 2017 [Bioprocessing in microalgae]; Dr Georgina Robinson 2017 [Microbial-deposit feeder aquaculture bioremediation systems]; Dr Rebecca Martin 2017 [The adhesion of the barnacle Elminius modestus (Darwin) to fouling-release coatings]; Dr Adibi Rahiman Md. Nor 2018 [The effect of seaweed aquaculture cooperatives on sustainable livelihoods in Malaysia]; Dr Sana Akram Butt 2018 [Toxicity of engineered nanoparticles to marine bivalve molluscs]; Dr Muayad Al-karawi 2018 [Development and intensification of a foam flotation system in harvesting microalgae for biofuel]; Dr Abbas Umar 2019 [The screening, fabrication and production of microalgae biocomposites for carbon capture and utilisation]; Dr Leila Zhang 2019 [Renewable energy-assessment of pretreatment and co-digestion strategies to optimize methane production from microalgae]; Dr Salihu Musa 2021 [Process intensification of biodiesel production from algae using foam flotation column]; Dr Pichaya In-na 2021 [Living microalgae-textile and cyanobacteria-loofah biocomposites for intensified carbon capture, utilisation and storage]; Dr Johanna Weston 2021 [Diversity and biodiversity of hadal Amphipoda]; Dr Chloe Eastabrook 2023 [Applying an integrated ecotoxicological approach to assess stress from exposure to trace metals and UVB radiation]

Completed MPhils: Josh Raine 2017 [Responses of the diatom, Navicula incerta, to intra-specific signals and nutrient availability]; Emily O'Hara 2018 [Exploring temperature sensitivity of nematocysts and the expression of toxin genes in the sea anemone Actinia equina, with preliminary analysis of the specificity of intracapsular fluid/venom composition]; Lucy Gorman 2018 [Assessment of the bioactivity of venom from the lesser weever (Echiichthys vipera) in alternative animal models]; Ilaria Spiga 2018 [Effects of anthropogenic noise on marine fish and invertebrates]; Paul Whitworth 2019 [Microbial ecology of seaweed-fed anaerobic digesters]; Leah Brown 2020 [The biogeography of gut microbiomes associated with hadal amphipods from the Mariana, Izu-Bonin and Kermadec trenches]; Rachel Hart 2021 [Cyanobacteria biocomposites for in situ treatment of domestic wastewater]; Matthew Walker 2022 [Identification, characterisation and application of novel microalgae, immobilised in optimised biocomposites, for the purpose of bioremediating industrial wastewater]; Ellie Ould 2023 [Growth, detrital production and breakdown of the brown algae, Laminaria digitata, in northeast England, UK]

Esteem Indicators

Associate Editor for Invertebrate Reproduction and Development.

Editorial Board for Phycology


Undergraduate Teaching

  • MST1204 Academic and Professional Skills for the Biosciences
  • MST1205 Marine Practical Skills I
  • MST1206 Marine Microbiology and Primary Producers
  • MST2202 Applied Marine Biology (Module Leader)
  • MST2204 Research and Employability Skills
  • MST2205 Marine Practical Skills II
  • MST3203 Advanced Marine Research Topics 3 (Marine Poisons, Venoms and Toxins)
  • MST3204 Advanced Research Skills
  • MST3205 Marine Research Project