Associate Professor (Reader)
Phone: 024 765 74187
Vacancies and Opportunities
For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities, and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.
Our planet is a self-sustaining system that all organisms contribute to and affect. However, many of the most critical processes, such as the production of oxygen and the constant recycling of other vital components like carbon, nitrogen and sulfur are driven by the activity of microbes in the oceans, lakes, soils and sediments on our planet. I focus on understanding how and where these microbes are active and how they change as the planet changes. This work helps us understand how the planet has changed and will potentially change in the future, particularly as many of these organisms affect the production and degradation of critical greenhouse gases like CO2, methane and nitrous oxide.
I am also interested in how and why certain microbes are found in specific places, from lakes and sediments for climate active gases to humans and animals where the microbes affect their hosts’ health and well-being. My research has taken me to sites in Japan, sub-Antarctic islands and continental Antarctica as well as including data from the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as well as many places in the UK.I teach fundamental aspects of the biology of microbes and how they affect the planet and humans directly. These include the basic processes that allow microbes to grow and interact with their environment to the microbes that drive the global cycling of carbon and nitrogen and their ecological impacts. I also teach the first labs our students take on their courses as we develop the skills needed to be an experimental scientist.
Research: Technical Summary
Microbes drive the recycling of all the critical elements required for life on the planet. A number of these processes produce potent climate-active gasses such as methane and nitrous oxide and so play a critical in the dynamics of the global ecosystem. However, our understanding of how and why certain microbes are found and are active in certain ecosystems is limited and we still have only a superficial sense of what are the ecological drivers and processes that underpin microbial communities and their activities In situ and engineered system such as wastewater treatment plants. This limits our ability to predict how these communities will change as the planet changes or how to manipulate microbes to manage change or exploit in environmental management or in industry.My research focuses on understanding how microbial communities react to their environments and what are the fundamental principles that underpin these interactions. To do this effectively I collaborate with biogeochemists, molecular microbiologists, infection biologists, epidemiologists, hydrologists and modellers.
ThermoPhyl is a free software tool that identifies Thermodynamically and Phylogenetically optimal assays for FISH, traditional PCR or TaqMan quantitative-PCR.
University of Warwick
Associate Professor (Reader) in Microbial Ecology 2013 to present
Associate Professor in Microbial Ecology 2010-2013
Team Leader, Marie Curie Excellence Grant 2006-2010
University of Reading
Junior Lecturer in Microbiology 2002-2006
Natural History Museum, London
Research fellow; The microbial ecology of global biogeochemical cycles
University of Essex/Natural History Museum, London
Postdoctoral researcher; NERC grant
University of Essex 1991-1996
PhD; The use of 16S rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes to study the ecology of sulphate-reducing bacteria with the Natural History Museum, Dr TM Embley) and Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan (Dr S Takii).
Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology, Oxford
University College, Oxford 1986-1990
BA (Hons) Biochemistry; 2:1.
Delta Biotechnology, Nottingham 1989
Glaxo Group Research, Greenford, London 1985-1986Chemical analysis Technician