School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Thomas Howard

Senior Lecturer



Dr Howard received his Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield, where, as a BBSRC Case Award student with Advanced Technologies (Cambridge) Ltd., he explored metabolic engineering of primary metabolism for crop yield improvement. He has published research on a number of different aspects of the genetic and biochemical regulation of carbon flux in plants and microbes. 

Dr Howard is a keen advocate of research-led teaching, implementing these approaches for both undergraduates and pre-University students. He has successfully supervised Nuffield student scholars and is happy to receive enquiries from students about such placements. In 2012 Dr Howard led the inaugural University of Exeter entry into the iGEM competition and has been involved in iGEM ever since. He hosts the Newcastle iGEM teams.

Lab Homepage


Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Ph.D. Plant Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (University of Sheffield)

B.Sc. (Hons) in Botany and Zoology (University of Reading)

Internal Responsibilities:

Deputy Chair: Plant and Microbial Biology

Committee and Organisational Experience:

BBSRC STARS Programme: Using virtual experimentation for better experimental design in biological and biotechnological research, Lead-Organiser 2016-2019

Learning and Teaching Working Group: Links with Industry, 2017

UK Plant Sciences Federation Translation Working Group Implementation Plan, 2014 

Society for Experimental Biology AGM, ‘Synthetic Biology’ Session Co-Organiser, 30 June - 3 July 2015, Clarion Congress Hotel, Prague.

Society for Experimental Biology, ‘Synthetic Biology’ Co-Organiser, 8 - 10 January 2014, Charles Darwin House, London.


Dr Howard was part of the team that was awarded a University of Exeter Impact Award for Outstanding Impact in Technology, and was shortlisted for the BBSRC Innovator of the Year: Most Promising Innovation award in 2014 for work developing petroleum-replica hydrocarbons.


Including Biochemical Journal, Journal of Biotechnology, Journal of Experimental Botany, FEBS Letters, FEBS Journal, Frontiers in Plant Science, Journal of Phycology, Plant Cell Reports and the BBSRC.

External coverage:

From New Scientist: Culture Shock. Students from Newcastle enter iGEM2016

From the BBCE. coli bacteria 'can produce diesel biofuel'

From New Scientist: Bacteria churn out first ever petrol-like biofuel.


Current Research Group:

Dr Alice Banks and Dr Colette Whitfield

Self-disclosing protective materials using synthetic gene networks (EPSRC)

With Dr David Fulton (Newcastle University), Dr Jonathan Fieldsend (University of Exeter) and Professor John Love (University of Exeter).

Josh Loh (PhD Candidate)

Identification of hydrocarbon biosynthetic pathways in Ascocoryne sarcoides (BBSRC)

Christopher Azubuike (PhD Candidate)

Synthetic biology tools for Cupriavidus necator H16 - an industrial microbe for bioremediation and electrosynthesis (Commonwealth Scholarship Commission to the UK)

Alex Laverick (PhD Candidate)

Modular, cell-free synthetic gene networks to enable rapid deployment of in-field diagnostics for plant health monitoring (IAFRI Studentship Scheme)

Alis Prusokas (PhD Candidate)

Metagenomic enabled discovery of the plant virome (BBSRC iCASE with fera)

Further information:

Google Scholar Profile

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-5546-4043

Gateway to Research (RCUK funded projects only).



  • Bioprospecting (BIO3045)
  • Biology in Action (BIO1010)
  • Biotechnology 1 (BIO2030)
  • Biotechnology 2 (BIO3042)
  • Research Project (BIO3199)
  • Gene Technology (BIO8044)
  • Research Component of our MSc in Industrial and Commercial Biotechnology.

I also lead the BBSRC STARS training programme Statistical Design of Experiments for Biology and Biotechnology and co-host the Newcastle iGEM team.