School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor Jerry Barnes

Professor of Environmental Biology



I was appointed Professor of Environmental Biology in 2006 and have acquired more than 30 years' research/teaching/managerial experience at Newcastle University. The over-arching focus of my research, and that of my team, centres on the impacts of photochemical oxidant pollution on crops and native plant communities, and the cellular basis of the oxidative damage resulting with a view to the directed breeding of crops with enhanced resilience to meet future food demands. Unique facilities constructed and used as the platform to deliver this work included a suite of indoor computer-controlled environment chambers, an open-field fumigation system at Keenley Fell (Northumberland) and 16 rigid open-top chambers situated at Close House (Heddon) – the latter constituting one of two of the UKs principle Air Pollution Research Facilities. My groups’ work,  has made a significant contribution not only to UK Air Quality Guidelines but also to the setting of Critical Levels for ozone pollution which constitute the backbone for trans-national air pollution abatement strategies across Europe and North America. Latterly, my interests in ozone have extended to researching the controlled use of the gas to curb microbial spoilage of fresh produce and improve food safety. This area of research activity has resulted in significant industry collaboration, several PhD and KTP awards, a wealth of recent publications, granted patents and filings (including: PCT/GB 2004/003102 International Filing 17/2/2005: PCT/WO 2005/013729 A1; GB 0621630.3).

For the past 18 years I have, and continue to be, engaged part-time at the University, enabling me to pursue my external business interests. I founded my first company, Biofresh (, in 2001. This business was established to exploit know how (and subsequent solution-engineering patents) in the field of novel modified storage and preservation atmospheres applicable to high value fruit and vegetables. In 2012 the business, by then trading around the world, was sold to the International Sales Distributor. I retain an interest and shareholding in the resulting product: Biofresh Group Ltd. In 2007, I stepped back from the management team at Biofresh to co-Found Geneius Laboratories (, a company established to service the UK Food and Drink Sector using pioneering DNA-based testing approaches. The company grew under my leadership to employ 65 full-time staff and is now the largest independent testing services provider in the UK. In July 2017, the company was acquired by SYNLAB, a Munich-based international analytical services provider, in a multi-million pound deal. Prior to exit, I stepped-down from leading the Senior Management team at Geneius to focus on Founding and growing Apix Nutrition - a spin-out company focusing on a (international patent-pending) livestock feed solution aimed at a burgeoning global market.

On my journey, I have established strong/long-lasting research collaboration with colleagues in Japan, Spain, Greece, Canada and the US and gained much strategic/project/staff management experience, supervised >40 fully-funded PhD programmes to successful completion, been successful in winning research grants worth >£3 million from a range of competitive sources (including NERC, DEFRA, EU Framework Programmes, The Royal Society, ADHB and a variety of industrial partners) and authored ≈130 refereed publications (to date) delivering a personal Google Scholar h-index of 46 based on >6K citations.  Google Scholar Profile

Area of Expertise

Plant-Environment interactions, Air pollution, Food testing & microbiology, Postharvest storage systems, Bee nutrition   


  • 2001      Certificate Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Newcastle University
  • 1985      PhD in Plant Physiology, UCNW Bangor
  • 1981      BSc (Hons) Agricultural Botany, UCNW Bangor


  • 2006 - present               Professor of Environmental Biology, Newcastle University
  • 2001 - 2006                   Reader in Plant-Atmosphere Exchange, Newcastle University
  • 1992 - 2001                   Royal Society Research Fellow, Newcastle University
  • 1986 - 1992                   DEFRA Research Fellow, Newcastle University
  • 2001 - 2006                  co-Founder and CEO Biofresh Ltd (
  • 2001 - 2010                  Director and Company Secretary, biofresh Ltd
  • 2008 - 2017                  co-Founder and Managing Director Geneius Laboratories Ltd. (
  • 2016 - present              co-Founder and CEO, Apix Nutrition Ltd.

Accolades and Awards

  • Winner, Dti/Innovate UK SMART Awards [2004 and 2013]
  • Winner, Medilink most-promising NE company [2009] 
  • Runner-up, Medilink UK Competition for most-promising company  [2010]
  • Sunday Times Business Entrepeneurs 'Tips For Success in 2013'
  • Runner-up, Bionow Business Awards [2013]                                                                                  
  • Winner, Society for Food Hygiene and Technology 'Best New Business' [2013]                                
  • Winner, Northumberland Business Award - Innovation [2014] 
  • Winner, Northumberland Business Award - Large Business of the Year [2016]                                                    
  • Invited participant in Royal Society-organised Ministerial Briefings 1996-2001
  • Invited participant in Royal Society REF/White Paper/Information Consultation exercises 1997-2000 
  • Winner, Royal Society East/West and Japan exchange Funding 1997-2000 
  • Invited UK representative French Academy of Sciences Meeting – Emerging National Talent 
  • Invited participant at three Rank Prize Funds Symposia/Dinners 
  • Winner, Swales Foundation Award [1994] 
  • Winner, Sir David Moore Memorial Prize - Awarded by The Arkleton Trust [2007]
  • Invited speaker/chair at ≈ 75 National & International conferences 
  • Invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology [2015] 

Membership of External Committees

  • International Advisory Board, EU-Horizon 2020 Strength2Food project 2017 - 2022 
  • External Consultant/Assessor for REF2020 Edinburgh, Napier Univ. [UoAs 7, 25 and 26] 2016-2020 
  • Honorary Life-time Member, International Society of Environmental Botanists  
  • Society for Experimental Biology Plant Science Committee: 2000-2005
  • Royal Society Alumni and Environmental Advisory Network: 2001-present
  • International Ozone Association AgriFood Panel 2005-2010
  • Member, NERC Committee for Air Pollution Effects Research (CAPER) 2005-present   
  • Member DEFRA & Royal Society Expert Working Groups: Photochemical Oxidants 2005-2010 
  • International Advisory Panel to Polish Academy Sciences: Krakow 2002-2007. FP5-funded Project
  • Member, Commonwealth Fellowships/Scholarships Assessment Panel 2008-2011 
  • Treasurer 1995-2000 then Co-Chair, APPM International Symposia Series 2000-2005 – specifically governing the organization of  the 5th (Pulawy, Poland) and 6th (Tsukuba, Japan)  meetings.   
  • Co-Chair and Organiser, European Science Foundation Meeting – Morpeth (2001)    
  • Expert Evaluator, Italian Ministry for University Research 1998-2005

Membership of Internal University Committees

  • Member, University Ethics Committee 2016 - present 
  • Director of Research, School of Biology 2001-2005 and  Member,  Faculty Research Committee
  • Executive Management Committee, School of Biology 2002-2005
  • Executive Management Committee, Institute for Research on the Environment and Sustainability 2004-2009
  • Chair, Wolfson bid (with Vice Chancellors support) to create gene-environment centre, 2004
  • Deputy-Academic Director, Devonshire Build Committee 2001-2005
  • Director of Postgraduate Studies/Admissions/Chair Postgraduate Comm, School of Biology 1998-2003
  • Head, Environmental and Molecular Plant Physiology (one of 3 major Research themes in the School of Biology at the time) 1996 – 2015
  • Member, Faculty Graduate School Management Board 2000-2003 (standing-in for the postgraduate sub-Dean at University Bursary Committee Meetings)
  • Member, Faculty Business Opportunities Working Group and Regional Links Board 2001-2003
  • Member, Faculty Integrated PhD Programme Working Group 2000-2003
  • Member, Faculty EU-Marie Curie Working Group 2000-2003
  • Member, Arabic Students Working Group – International Office 2002-2005

Oral Presentations/Thesis Examinations

I have delivered around 100 talks/seminars in: Australia x6  Canada x4 Channel Islands x4  Germany x7  Greece x16 Italy x14 Ireland x3 Japan x11 Netherlands x7 Portugal x2 Spain x12 Trinidad x1 USA x8 UK c.40, and examined PhD/MSc/MPhil Theses presented in the UK x15 Spain x4 Australia x2 Greece x1 and Canada x1 


Research Interests

  • Atmospheric pollution, especially ozone, and impacts on vegetation at physiological, biochemical and molecular level
  • Cellular reaction to (ozone-induced) oxidative stress and cellular detoxification systems
  • Redox regulation and signal propagation/transduction
  • Postharvest storage technologies and waste prevention approaches
  • Food/Drink safety/microbiology

Other Expertise

  • Commercial applications for gaseous/aqueous ozone in food and drink sector
  • Preservation of fresh produce/foodstuffs
  • Decontamination of fresh produce/storage facilities
  • Postharvest biology and storage technologies

Current Work

  • Establishment and modeling of ozone flux-response relationships
  • Examining impacts of rising ozone on upland vegetation
  • Exploring the deployment of ozone for the preservation and decontamination of fresh produce/foodstuffs
  • QTLs governing ozone tolerance and characterization of NILs
  • Plant-pollinator interactions
  • Internalization of foodborne pathogens


  • Member, NERC/DEFRA Committee for Air Pollution Impacts Research
  • ad-hoc Member, DEFRA ozone modelling group
  • Member, Royal Society Environmental Advisory Network
  • Co-Chairman, Air Pollution and Global Change Conference Series (organiser 7th Meeting: Edinburgh, Sept 2007)
  • Chair and co-ordinator Marie Curie Early Stage (PhD) Training Site [PLENTI]Plant-Environment Interactions
  • Member, International Advisory Board Polish Academy of Sciences FP5  'Crop Stress' Project
  • Member, International Ozone Association's World Agri-Food Committee
  • Member, IRES Executive Management Board


Attracted: c. £5 million in research funding from a variety of sources (including EU, UK-based Research Councils and Industrial Partners) plus #3.5m business development funding (venture capital, business angels, private investors) past 20 years
Published: 1 co-edited book (plus 1 'in press') and >120 research papers in high-ranking international journals
Supervised: >35 PhD projects; 1 MPhil; 1 Dipl >20 postdoctoral researchers
Current team: 4 PhD students; 1 KTP Associate


GB **** [with Unilever, withdrawn]
GB **** [with Uniq Foods] granted
GB/US/Europe **** [BioFresh] PCT filings
European Trademarks:
BioFresh and 'Safer ways to Fresher Foods' [Europe, N. America, Japan, SE Asia]
Geneius, Geneius rapID, Geneius microID, Geneius microST [Europe, N. America, Japan, SE Asia]


Undergraduate Teaching

  • Biology in Action [Stage 1] [contributor] 
  • Plant Biology [Stage 1] [contributor]
  • Pollution of Air, Water and Soil [Stage 2] [module leader]
  • Pollution of Air, Water and Soil [Stage 3] [module leader]
  • Final Year Dissertation Project students
  • Tutees: 8-10 per annum

Postgraduate Teaching

  • 4 PhD Students
  • MSc Industrial and Commercial Biotechnology. Business Skills.

Business/Professional Skills Development/Mentoring

  • Newcastle University Careers Service
  • North East Process and Innovation Centre
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Programme