BSc Microbiology (Sp. Hons) : Sheffield University, UK (1983-1986)
PhD Microbiology : Sheffield University, UK (1986-1989)
Work : I have a range of academic and commercial work experience and have enjoyed working in different countries giving me an international perspective.
Academic appointments :
Lecturer in Mycology and Environmental Microbiology, University College Dublin, Ireland (1989-1995)
Lecturer in Soil Microbiology, Adelaide University, Australia (1995-2000)
Senior Lecturer (Microbiology), Newcastle University, UK (2000-2015)
Professor in Environmental Microbiology, School of Applied Science, Edinburgh Napier University, (2016 - present)
Other academic appointments :
I was a visiting research associate at the University of Liverpool during a sabbatical period from July 1999-Dec 1999.
EC Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellow (2011-2014) at UC Berkeley, USA and Newcastle University. I was fortunate to work in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at UC Berkeley (Prof Tom Bruns Lab) to study the application of next generation DNA sequencing for soil fungal community assessment.
Research: My main research interests are in applied environmental microbiology with a current focus on the following topics :
1. Methods to reduce spoilage and microbial contamination of fresh ready to eat plant produce. Current projects are examining the ecology of Listeria in horticultural soils and the use of electrolysed water to reduce microbial loads on fruit and vegetables.
2. Soil microbial communities : I work on the effects of pollutants on soil microbes and how soil microbes contribute to plant growth e.g. the involvement of soil microbial populations in a phenomenon called yield decline that occurs in a variety of important crop types.
Commercial work experience :
I have been involved in the development of two University start up companies that applied research findings.
The first company started in 2003 (as BioFresh Ltd) focussed on novel residue-free methods to store fresh ready to eat produce. The second company (Geneius Laboratories Ltd started in 2007) is a food testing company and we developed novel UKAS approved PCR/DNA based (rapid) tests to detect microbes in food samples.
This commercial experience helps me to work effectively with companies and is also useful for my teaching as I'm able to demonstrate in classes, using personal examples, how research findings can be applied commercially.