School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor Graham Bonwick

Senior Lecturer

Background

Graham Bonwick qualified with a BSc in Applied Biology and a PhD in Ecotoxicology (University of Salford). He is an applied scientist with expertise in the areas of environmental quality and food safety. His aim is to contribute to sustainability, food safety, quality and security and he has over 25 years research and teaching experience. In 2000 he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Biological and Biomedical Sciences in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Chester and Professor in 2006. He established the Centre for Science Communication (2003), the Environmental Quality & Food Safety Research Group (2006) and the Food Nanotechnology Research Group (2010). In 2012 he became the Innovation Development Director of the ERDF funded NowFOOD project and Director of the Institute of Food Science and Innovation at the University of Chester in 2014.

In 2017 he joined Fera Science Ltd as Lead Scientist and Newcastle University as part of the Institute for Agri-Food Research & Innovation joint venture. His focus is food innovation and packaging technology and is developing training for industry. Within the University he has worked to create a multi-disciplinary packaging research group and helped establish the FuturePack meeting series. Graham holds Fellowships with the Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Society of the Arts and is also a member of the Institute of Food Science & Technology and the Institute of Biomedical Sciences.

Research

The predominant theme has been environmental quality, food safety and security which has resulted in a variety of work along the food supply chain. This has included the development of tools for evaluation of the behaviour and impact of environmental contaminants (heavy metals and pesticides in freshwater ecosystems), development and application of rapid assays (antibodies and aptamers for authenticity, contaminants, allergens, pathogens and stress biomarkers), evaluation of novel or sustainable food ingredients (bioactivity, functionality, consumer acceptability) for new product development and packaging solutions to extend shelf life.

The translation of research to future commercial applications and business growth has also been a key activity. I helped establish the ERDF NoWFOOD Centre in Chester as part of a 10-year programme of EU funded projects to support innovation and upskilling of agri-food SMEs in the North West of England. I am a member of the IAFRI joint venture with Fera Science Ltd and currently developing training, research and commercial services in food innovation and packaging technology (especially active, intelligent and sustainable packaging solutions).

Recent agri-food focussed research has focussed on

  • Consumer acceptance and bio-accessibility of lutein in novel food products supplemented with algal biomass
  • Exploitation and valorisation of agri-food waste as a means of generating new sustainable packaging solutions and extending the shelf life of food and feed
  • Development of aptamers for rapid detection of food and feed contaminants
  • Novel food processing technologies and effects on sensory and physical characteristics.

Teaching

Teaching has been delivered to life science students studying biological, biomedical, environmental, forensic, food and nutrition sciences. Topics have encompassed food safety and security, environmental quality assessment, analytical techniques, environmental toxicology and contaminants in the food supply chain. Engagement with industry has been extensive and involved development and delivery of training, especially blended learning solutions that have made use of virtual learning environments and short intensive delivery formats. I am currently developing a PG Cert in Food Packaging for delivery in 2018-19 and aim towards a full MSc in Packaging. I have been involved in the development of the Packaging Professional Degree Apprenticeship specification. Research supervision is primarily in the environmental quality, food safety and nutrition areas. Current projects relate to food safety, security and the circular economy and include:
  • Development of biomolecular ligands e.g. aptamers for rapid detection of food contaminants and pathogens.
  • Agri-food waste for ingredients and sustainable alternatives to oil-derived polymers for packaging, 
  • Packaging performance and shelf life.
  • Reformulation and processing for functional food development.
I am passionate about science communication to encourage understanding, interest and entry into science-based careers. I have developed and delivered a wide range of engagement activities for all age groups that have included science festivals, school outreach and SciBArs.

Publications