About / CV

I am lecturer in microbiology at the University of Derby. I have a BSc (hons) in Microbiology from the University of Manchester, and a PhD in Microbiology from University College London.

Microbial ecology

My major interest is microbial communities and their interactions with the environment. Just like ecologists study plants and animals, so microbial communities can be studied but special techniques are needed because microbes are mostly invisible and there are so many more species. I try to find out about why microbes live in particular places and what function they have there. This includes all sorts of environment including:

  • Medical situations – e.g. dental plaque and the skin
  • Biotechnology – e.g. wastewater treatment and cleaning up pollution (bioremediation)
  • The natural environment – e.g. soil and plant roots

Current research

My current research is especially focused on microbes in the soil, and in particular the top few mm in places where there are no plants. Here we can find biological soil crusts consisting of microbes which glue the soil together. They prevent erosion and also perform a lot of other less obvious functions like helping seeds germinate and trapping carbon in the soil. See the publications section for more.

Computers and technology

I am very interested in technology and computers which I use extensively to help in my research. I use high throughput DNA sequencing techniques to sequence DNA from the environment, then use computers to analyse the sequences to identify the microbes and compare environments. I also build custom computer controlled equipment for performing automated laboratory experiments.

Teaching

I am Programme Leader for BSc (hons) Biology at the University of Derby where I also teach on various modules including:

  • Organisms and their Environments (Module leader)
  • Evolution of Life
  • Invasion of the Land
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (Module leader)
  • Bio-innovation (Module Leader)

I am also co-supervisor for PhD student Mario Toubes-Rodrigo who is based at Manchester Metropolitan University. His project is entitled “Geomicrobiology of the basal ice layer of Svínafellsjökull, Iceland.”

Contact

To contact me, please use the various social profile links provided on this site, or click here to send an email through a web form.