School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Professor Catherine Biggs

Prof of Chemical Engineering


Prof of Chemical Engineering and Associate Dean for Strategic Projects

I am an environmental engineer with cross-disciplinary research interests, incorporating a range of analytical approaches (biological, physical and chemical), and experimental length scales (laboratory systems to field sites) to study biological adhesion and biofilm formation, predominantly, but not exclusively within the urban water environment. My strategy is to develop fundamental understanding of the biofilm process, which aims to help address Industry and community needs, through the application of leading edge experimental techniques, with process engineering knowledge. 


Roles and Responsibilities

Associate Dean of Strategic Projects


PhD in Chemical Engineering (The University of Queensland, Australia, 2000)

BEng in Environmental Engineering (with Hons) (The University of Queensland, 1995)

Previous Positions

  • 2010 - 2018 Professor, University of Sheffield, UK
  • 2009 - 2010 Reader, University of Sheffield, UK
  • 2007 - 2008 Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield, UK
  • 2001 - 2006 Lecturer, University of Sheffield, UK
  • 2000 - 2001 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Sheffield, UK


I successfully lead and managed collaborative projects with a broad skills base of investigators including chemical, civil and environmental engineers, microbiologists and social scientists. I was an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow (09/2007 – 08/2012). I am a strong advocate for cross disciplinary research with a broad funding base across UK Research Councils, (BBSRC and EPSRC), as well as EU and UK Charities and Industry throughout my research career.

Research Interests

  • Fundamental biofilm formation and stability
  • Engineering biofilms within urban water systems rather than just focusing on removal
  • FatBergs
  • Tailored technologies for urban water systems

Current Projects

  • UKCRIC: National Water Infrastructure Facility: Distributed Water Infrastructure. (EPSRC)
  • TWENTY 65: Tailored Water Solutions for Positive Impact. EPSRC
  • SCARAB - Sheffield Collaboratorium for Antimicrobial Resistance And Biofilms


  • Song WX, Muthana M, Mukherjee J, Falconer RJ, Biggs CA, Zhao XB. Magnetic-Silk Core-Shell Nanoparticles as Potential Carriers for Targeted Delivery of Curcumin into Human Breast Cancer Cells. ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering 2017, 3(6), 1027-1038.
  • Mukherjee J, Karunakaran E, Biggs CA. Using a multi-faceted approach to determine the changes in cell surface properties influenced by a biofilm lifestyle. The Journal of Bioadhesion and Biofilm Research 2011.
  • Koerdt A, Orell A, Pham TK, Mukherjee J, Wlodkowski A, Biggs CA, Wright PC, Albers SV. Macromolecular fingerprinting of Sulfolobus species in biofilm: a transcriptomic and proteomic approach combined with spectroscopy analysis. Journal of Proteome 2011, 10(9), 4105-4119.
  • Karunakaran E, Mukherjee J, Ramalingan B, Biggs CA. "Biofilmology": A multidisciplinary review of the study of microbial biofilms. Journal of Applied Micorbiology and Biotechnology 2011, 90(6), 1869-1881.
  • Peter S, Evans C, Ow SY, Scutt AM, Wright PC, Biggs CA. Proteomic analysis of the impact of static culturing on the expansion of rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. Biotechnology Letters 2012, 34(8), 1589-1596.
  • Deepika G, Karunakaran E, Hurley CR, Biggs CA, Charalampopoulos D. Influence of fermentation conditions on the surface properties and adhesion of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. Microbial Cell Factories 2012, 11(116).
  • Fuszard MA, Wright PC, Biggs CA. Comparative quantitative proteomics of Prochlorococcus ecotypes to a decrease in environmental phosphate concentrations. Aquatic Biosystems 2012, 8(7).
  • Sekar R, Deines P, Machell J, sborn AM, Biggs CA, Boxall JB. Bacterial water quality and network hydraulic characteristics: a preliminary field study of a small, looped water distribution system using culture independent molecular methods. Journal of Applied Microbiology 2012.
  • Evans C, Noirel J, Ow SY, Salim M, Pereira-Medrano AG, Couto N, Pandhal J, Smith D, Pham TK, Karunakaran E, Zou X, Biggs CA, Wright PC. An insight into iTRAQ: where do we stand now?. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 2012, 404(4), 1011–1027.
  • Fuszard M, Ow SY, Gan CS, Noirel J, Ternan NG, McMullan G, Biggs CA, Reardon KF, Wright PC. The quantitative proteomic response of Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 to phosphate acclimation. Aquatic Biosystems 2013, 9(5).
  • Peter S, Scutt AM, Wright PC, Biggs CA. Comparative study of the in vitro expansion of bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells. Biotechnology Letters 2013, 35(3), 463-469.
  • Ellis K, Ryan B, Templeton MR, Biggs CA. Bacteriological Water Quality Compliance and Root Cause Analysis: An Industry Case Study. Water Supply 2013, 13, 1034-1045.
  • Ramalingam B, Sekar R, Boxall JB, Biggs CA. Aggregation and biofilm formation of bacteria isolated from domestic drinking water. Water Supply 2013, 13(4).
  • Ellis K, Mounce S, Ryan B, Templeton MR, Biggs CA. Use of on-line water quality monitoring data to predict bacteriological failures. Procedia Engineering 2014, 70, 612-621.
  • Douterelo I, Deines P, Boxall JB, Sekar R, Fish KE, Biggs CA. Methodological approaches for studying the microbial ecology of drinking water distribution systems. Water Research 2014, 65, 134-156.
  • Hanotu J, Karunakaran E, Bandulasena H, Biggs CA, Zimmerman WBJ. Harvesting and Dewatering Yeast by Microflotation. Biochemical Engineering Journal 2014, 85, 174-182.
  • Amezaga JM, Amtmann A, Biggs CA, Bond T, Gandy CJ, Honsbein A, Karunakaran E, Lawton L, Madsen MA, Minas K, Templeton MMR. Biodesalination’: a case study for applications of photosynthetic bacteria in water treatment. Plant Physiology 2014.
  • Minas K, Karunakaran E, Bond T, Gandy C, Honsbein A, Madsen M, Amezaga J, Amtmann A, Templeton MR, Biggs CA, Lawton L. Biodesalination: an emerging technology for targeted removal of Na+ and Cl- from seawater by cyanobacteria. Desalination and Water Treatment 2014, 55, 2647-2668.
  • Mahendra P, Raut MP, Karunakaran E, Mukherjee J, Biggs CA, Wright PC. Influence of substrates on the surface characteristics and membrane proteome of Fibrobacter succinogenes. PLOS One 2015.
  • Ellis K, Mounce SR, Ryan B, Biggs CA, Templeton MR. Improving root cause analysis of bacteriological water quality failures at water treatment works. Procedia Engineering 2015, 119, 309-318.
  • Abdul-Majeed WS, Karunakaran E, Biggs CA, Zimmerman WBJ. Development of wastewater treatment system based on cascade dielectric barrier discharge plasma atomizers. Journal of Environmental Science and Health 2015, 50(12), 1249-1258.
  • Sharpe RL, Biggs CA, Boxall JB. Hydraulic conditioning to manage potable water discolouration. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Water Management 2017, 172(1), 3-13.
  • Naylor J, Fellermann H, Ding Y, Mohammed W, Jakubovics N, Mukherjee J, Biggs C, Wright P, Krasnogor N. Simbiotics: A Multiscale Integrative Platform for 3D Modeling of Bacterial Populations. ACS Synthetic Biology 2017, 6(7), 1194-1210.
  • Nguyen V, Karunakaran E, Collins G, Biggs CA. Physicochemical analysis of initial adhesion and biofilm formation of Methanosarcina barkeri on polymer support material. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 2016, 143, 518-525.
  • Ellis K, Gowdy C, Jakomis N, Ryan B, Thom C, Biggs C, Speight V. Understanding the costs of investigating coliform and E. coli detections during routine drinking water quality monitoring. Urban Water Journal 2017, 15(2), 101-108.
  • Karunakaran E, Vernon D, Biggs CA, Saul AJ, Crawford D, Jensen H. Enumeration of sulphate reducing bacteria for assessing potential for hydrogen sulphide production in urban drainage systems. Water Science and Technology 2016, 73(12), 3087-3094.
  • Jensen H, Sekar R, Shepherd WJ, Osborn AM, Tait S, Biggs CA. Spatial and temporal variability of bacterial communities within a combined sewer system. Microbiology Open 2016, 5(4), 616-625.
  • Jensen HS, Biggs CA, Karunakaran E. The importance of sewer biofilms. Wires Water 2016, 3, 487-494.