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Dr Kevin Purdy

Associate Professor (Reader)


Phone: 024 765 74187

Office: C108

Purdy webpage

Research Clusters

Ecology & Environment

Microbiology & Infectious Disease

Vacancies and Opportunities

For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities, and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.

Research/Teaching Interests

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

Scientific Officer

University College, Oxford 1986-1990

BA (Hons) Biochemistry; 2:1.

Delta Biotechnology, Nottingham 1989


Glaxo Group Research, Greenford, London 1985-1986

Chemical analysis Technician