School of Biological Sciences

Our academic staff

Academic members of staff

Selwa Alsam
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Hospital-related Infections; Microorganisms (Bacteria, Fungi and Parasites); Cytotoxic effects on Cell Lines; MRSA, the leading cause of nosocomial infections; Respiratory Tract Infections including Cystic Fibrosis and Pneumonia; Blood Brain Barrier; Pathogenic Mechanisms; Free-living amoeba (Acanthamoeba), the causative agent of keratitis and encephalitis; Urinary Tract Infections; Gastrointestinal Tract Infections and Food Poisoning; Wound Infections; Ageing-associated Infections; Trojan Horse; Novel Therapeutic Techniques; Antimicrobial resistance; Medicinal Plants;
Vassiliy Bavro
Reader, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Membrane protein crystallography; Antimicrobial Resistance; Integrative structural biology approaches; Ion channels; Metal transport in bacteria;
Louise Beard
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Ulrike Bechtold
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Natural variation of water productivity; Transcriptional networks of drought stress responses; Systems biology led modelling of high light responses in Arabidopsis; Coordination of stress defence signalling and development by heat shock transcription factors;
Greg Brooke
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Identify and characterise factors that promote tumour growth and therapy resistance in prostate and breast cancer.; Prostate Cancer; Breast Cancer; Development of genetic probes based on GFP for non-invasive detection and quantification of reactive oxygen species and antioxidants in subcellular compartments;
Thomas Cameron
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Eco-evolutionary population and community dynamics; Trophic cascades and ecosystem function; Life histories evolution of ontogeny (tropical fishes model system); The demography of Predator-prey dynamics; Demographic responses to Harvesting; Animal movement and dispersal;
Ian Colbeck
Deputy Dean(Postgrad. Research & Education)(Science & Health) & Professor (R), School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: physico-chemical properties of aerosols; indoor air quality and health impacts of aerosols; nanoparticles in the environment; environment - society interactions; Characterization of microbial communities in bioaerosols;
Paul Dobbin
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: In the late 1980's it was first demonstrated that the anaerobic growth of Shewanella and Geobacter species could be supported by using insoluble Fe(III) as a respiratory substrate. These findings attracted attention from bioenergeticists, who were curious to know how electrons were transferred from primary dehydrogenases to the cell exterior with the concomitant generation of a proton electrochemical gradient. Subsequent experiments have revealed that electron transport to Fe(III) in Shewanella is via a network of multiheme c-type cytochromes, located at the inner membrane, in the periplasmic compartment, and at the outer membrane (where the terminal reduction of Fe(III) to Fe(II) occurs). Workers in the nuclear power industry are also interested in Fe(III) respiring microorganisms due to their tendency to reduce other metal cations, including soluble U(VI) and Tc(VII), which are then precipitated as insoluble lower valence forms.; We are currently investigating the structures and functions of Shewanella multiheme cytochromes by a variety of techniques, including: (1) X-ray crystallography, which has yielded the molecular structure of an iron-induced flavocytochrome c3 (Ifc3); (2) magneto-optical spectroscopies (UV-VIS, EPR, MCD), which have shown the cytochromes to normally feature low-spin bis-His ligated c-hemes; (3) electochemistry, which has demonstrated different routes of electron passage into Ifc3, and has the potential for monitoring reconstitution of the electron transport chain to Fe(III) in vitro; and (4) protein engineering, which will enable identification of amino acid residues that are crucial to the cytochromes' involvement in Fe(III) respiration.; We have noted a number of cytochromes in Shewanella to be specifically synthesised during growth with Fe(III), including the aforementioned Ifc3. Recent experiments have identified a transcription factor of the LysR family to positively regulate Ifc3 expression, and we are currently studying in more detail the molecular basis for Fe(III) responsive gene transcription in the bacterium.; The importance of Fe(III) respiration has been recognized by the United States Department of Energy (DOE), who are funding the sequencing of the Shewanella putrefaciens MR-1 and Geobacter sufurreducens genomes. Exploitation of pre-published data generated in these programs is enabling us to identify the range of redox proteins involved in the anaerobic respiration of Fe(III) and other substrates by the use of 2D gel electrophoresis, microarray gene hybridization, and chromosomal mutations.; Geobacter species also have potential applications in the field of bioremediation, which arise from their ability to couple the reduction of Fe(III) with the complete oxidation (to carbon dioxide) of petroleum components such as benzene and toluene under the anoxic conditions normally prevalent in polluted sites. We are currently seeking to identify and characterize the novel proteins involved in the anaerobic degradation of aromatic hydrocarbons by Geobacter using the genomic and proteomic techniques mentioned above.; Finally, we are attempting to isolate novel Fe(III) respiring bacteria from microbial communities present in a number of different habitats. These include the human colonic microflora, where the reduction of Fe(III) to Fe(II) might lead to the onset of inflammatory disease states in the large intestine.; Our studies on bacterial Fe(III) respiration in the Department of Biological Sciences at Essex are aided by external collaborations with: Workers in the Centre for Metalloprotein Spectroscopy and Biology, University of East Anglia, Norwich, which is jointly directed by Dr David Richardson and Prof Andrew Thomson, FRS; Prof Graeme Reid and co-workers in the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh;
Alex Dumbrell
Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Community ecology (focus on microbial systems); Theoretical ecology (focus on models of biodiversity); Molecular ecology (focus on next generation sequencing); Macroecology (focus on examining patterns of biodiversity in microbial systems); Spatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity; Biodiversity-Ecosystem service/function relationships; Species abundance distributions and species area relationships; Biodiversity models (ie niche and neutral theories); Next generation sequencing technology and bioinformatics in ecological research; Metagenetics, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics; Ecoinformatics; Soil biodiversity and function; Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and other symbiotic systems;
Nelson Fernandez
Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Richard Geider
Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Adaptation, acclimation and regulation of algal photosynthesis; Quantitative phytoplankton (microalgal) growth models; Growth & photosynthesis in microalgae and cyanoibacteria; Photosynthesis & calcification in coccolithophores; Biophysical measurements of primary productivity; Nutrient limitation (N, P, Fe) of primary productivity and nitrogen fixation;
Lauren Headland
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Plant Biology; Plant Development;
Leanne Hepburn
Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Mike Hough
Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Serial crystallography using XFEL and synchrotron radiation; X-ray crystallography of Metalloproteins; MSOX Crystallography; Cytochromes and Gas Sensors; Development of in vivo biosensors for use in plants; Environmental enzymology studies of napthenic acid metabolism in oil sands wastewaters (collaboration with Dr Corinne Whitby); Development of genetic probes based on GFP for non-invasive detection and quantification of reactive oxygen species and antioxidants in subcellular compartments;
Gareth Jones
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Matthew Jones
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Elena Klenova
Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: My main research interests lie in the areas of regulation of transcription and molecular mechanisms of tumourigenesis.; We study the biological role of two related proteins, CTCF and BORIS, in genetics, epigenetics and disease, particularly, in tumourigenesis. CTCF and BORIS belong to a group of Zinc Finger transcription factors and share an identical DNA binding domain. Although related, CTCF and BORIS have different functions. CTCF has properties of a tumour suppressor, whereas BORIS has features of an oncogene. CTCF is present in various cell types, whereas BORIS normally is found only in the testis. Importantly, BORIS is activated in many cancers and could potentially be used as cancer biomarker.; My research projectshave beenfunded by various granting bodies, which include Councils and Charities such as The Medical Research Council (MRC), The Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, Association for International Cancer Research, Breast Cancer Campaign, Association for International Cancer Research, BreastCancer Research Trust, NHSand others.;
Tracy Lawson
Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Plant ecophysiology; Electron transport and photosynthesis; Stomatal physiology, control of gas exchange and carbon metabolism; Plant growth and water use efficiency; Effect of climate change on plant ecophysiology; Interaction between plants and their microclimate; Genetic manipulation of guard cell metabolism; Chlorophyll fluorescence imaging; Thermal imaging; Algal/cyanobacterial physiology; Photosynthesis and Nitrogen fixation; Ocean acidification, including tecniques to measure carbonate chemistry; Chlorophyll fluorescence; Systems biology led modelling of high light responses in Arabidopsis;
Julie Lloyd
Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Do higher plants have cellular phosphate sensing pathways?; Molecular cloning of plant genes by complementation of yeast mutants;
Etienne Low-Decarie
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Ecological response to global change; Evolutionary response to global change; Microbial biogeography; Evolutionary tradeoffs; Extremophiles; Artificial selection; Metaknowledge;
Pradeepa Madapura Marulasiddappa
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Role of Histone modifications and noncoding RNAs in regulation of genes;
Antonio Marco
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Evolution is driven by changes in the genome, not only in their gene products but in their regulatory interactions. My research interest is in evolutionary genomics with a strong focus on gene regulatory mechanisms.;
Terence McGenity
Reader, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Activities of, and interactions between, microbes and their effects on past and present environments; Carbon cycling in marine and estuarine environments, eg isoprene degradation and production, cycling of extracellular polymeric substances; Pollution microbiology, eg microbial ecology of petroleum hydrocarbon-polluted marine and groundwater environments; Extremophiles, eg the influence of high salt concentrations, different types of solute, and multiple stressors on microbial physiology and ecology; Biotechnological applications of extremophiles; Long-term survival of microorganisms and preservation of cellular macromolecules; Environmental Microbiology Key Words; Isoprene Cycling; isoprene;
Metodi Metodiev
Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: cell signalling; biological mass spectrometry; cancer biology;
Philip Mullineaux
Head of School - Professor (R), School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Coordination of stress defence signalling and development by heat shock transcription factors; Drought responsive gene expression in legumes and Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress); Identification of novel genes and processes from C3 desert plants that can be exploited for biotechnological applications; Systems biology led modelling of high light responses in Arabidopsis; Development of genetic probes based on GFP for non-invasive detection and quantification of reactive oxygen species and antioxidants in subcellular compartments;
Jordi Paps Montserrat
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Evolution & Genomics;
Jules Pretty
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor (R), School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Connections to nature and place; Agricultural sustainability/sustainable intensification; Green exercise, green minds & health benefits of nature; Social capital and natural resources; Biodiversity and ecoliteracy;
Filippo Prischi
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Signalling pathways in lung and breast cancer; Drug Discovery; Protein Phosphoregulation; Structural Biology; Ribosomal Kinases pathways;
Christine Raines
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Professor (R), School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Transgenic manipulation of leaf carbon metabolism to imporve crop yield; The role of plant biotechnology in the production of plants for improved yield for food and fuel; Photosynthetic carbon metabolism and links to thiamine biosynthesis; Regualtion of the Calvin Benson Cycle by the CP12 protein;
Brandon Reeder
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Biochemical and Biomedical based-research, particularly in the role of proteins in health and disease. ; metalloproteins in health and disease:; The next generation of blood substitutes; Role of human cytoglobin in lipid binding, lipid oxidation, cell signalling and cancer therapy resistance.; Role of neuroglobin in cell signalling and cell protection in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers.; Biochemical mechanisms oxidative stress in acute renal failure following rhabdomyolysis and delayed vasospasm following subarachnoid haemorrhage.; Structure and functional roles of non-symbiotic plant haemoglobins and bacterial globins.; Cell signalling by oxidatively modified lipids and formation of singlet oxygen resulting from lipid oxidation.; Developing novel compounds as ameliorators of haemoprotein-induced oxidative reactions. ; Development of genetic probes based on GFP for non-invasive detection and quantification of reactive oxygen species and antioxidants in subcellular compartments;
Philip Reeves
Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Structural properties and activation mechanism of rhodopsin, the dim-light human photoreceptor (details); Biosynthesis and cellular targeting of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs); Development of gene expression systems for large-scale production and purification of membrane proteins (details); Molecular mechanisms of Retinitis Pigmentosa caused by inherited mutations in rhodopsin;
Christopher Reynolds
Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Molecular Modelling; Computational Chemistry; Overview: computational chemistry/molecular modelling and bioinformatics and their application to problems in chemistry and biology; Modelling polarization through induced charges; Fragment-based drug design; Modelling G-protein coupled receptor structure and activation (Class A and Class B); Developing software for molecular modelling (see group web pages);
Leonard Schalkwyk
Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Genomic and epigenomic methods and software; Epigenomics and the environment; Alzheimers disease; Schizophrenia;
Nicola Slee
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: 1998 2001 Dept. of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, Essex; Genetic manipulation of the control of photosynthesis by SBPase Project. Work involved developing protocols for transforming, screening and analyzing wild-type and anti-sense tobacco plants.; 1995 - 1997 Dept. of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, Essex; Working on MAPLE project (Micro evolutionary adaptation of plants to elevated CO2). Work involved establishing experimental design & methodology; implementation of research; evaluation of results, collaboration with other research groups in EU working on MAPLE project.; 1993 - 1994 Dept. of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, Essex; Review the literature and establish a database for work published on FACE (Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment) experiments; 1990 1992 Dept. of Pathology & Microbiology, University of Bristol: Project investigated the use of molecular biology to provide further diagnostic and prognostic data on childhood tumours This information was used in conjunction with the more standard clinical tests to provide a tailor-made treatment for each patient.;
David Smith
Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Florini, Stella (2004) Water Pollution; Perkins, Nicola (2005) Water Pollution; Pilgrim, Sarah (2007) Ecoliteracy; Cullen, Leanne (2007) Reef Economics; Unsworth, Richard (2007) Seagrass and Mangrove Connectivity; McMellor, Steven (2008) Coral reef conservation; Miller, Layla (2009) Shellfisheries; Hennige, Sebastian (2009) Coral photophysiology; Salinas De Leon, Pelayo (2010) Coral recruitment; Sedlmayr, Ambra (2011) Rural economies; Green, Benjamin (2011) Coastal vegetated systems; Bharucha Zareen (2011) Watershed development; Curtis-Quick, Jocelyn (2012) Coral reef fish ecology; Brading, Patrick (2012) Coral physiology and ocean acidification; Powell, Abigail (2012) Coral reef sponge ecology; Hine, Rachel (2014) Care farming; Franco, Chiara (2014) Coral reef production; Piercy, Julius (2014) Coral reef acoustics; Walsh-Sarah-Jane ( 2015) Coral bleaching; Camp, Emma (2015) Coral reefs and ocean acidification; Chamberlain, Jon (2015) Coral reef ecology; Boschetti, Simona (2015) Coral recruitment; Osman, Eslam (2017) Red Sea corals and climate change; Ms Sophie Stephenson (2017) Coral larval production and development; Biggerstaff, Andy (2017) Coral Bioeroding sponges Hosted by UoV, NZ; Tavallali, Leila (Active) Blue Carbon and temperate saltmarshes; Gouraguine, Adam (Active) Coral reef benthic &ndash pelagic coupling; Urrutia Figueroa, Victor E (Active) Coral Host - Zooxanthellae relationships; Marlow, Joe (Active) Coral reef invading sponge Hosted by UoV, NZ; McGrath, Emily (Active) Xestospongia ecophysiology Hosted by UoV, NZ; Ms Bethen Greenword (Active) The coral microbiome and stress tolerance; Ms Reem Almealla (Acvtive) Corals of Bahrain; Ms Synthesa Ksatrya (Active) Indonesias ocean policy; Ms Amy Wong (Active) Coral reef fish functional ecology;
Michael Steinke
Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Signalling in microbial foodwebs; Ecology of traces gases in the infochemistry of phytoplankton; Chemodetection of DMS in zooplankton and benthic invertebrates; Production of biogenic trace gases under future CO2 levels; Metabolic pathways for DMSP-dependent DMS-production; Role of dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP) and related compounds in the stress-physiology of zooxanthellae-cnidarian symbioses; Production of dimethyl sulphide (DMS) and isoprene in coral reef ecosystems; Production of ethene (ethylene) in marine algae and its possible function as an infochemical;
Richard Strange
Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: The overall theme of my research is based on reaching an understanding of structure-function relationship of proteins, enzymes and their complexes, including those involved in disease (e.g. ALS), via advanced computational and experimental approaches. This encompasses synchrotron radiation, protein crystallography, XAFS, SAXS, SAD phasing, catalysis, structure-based drug discovery, molecular dynamics and computational chemistry.;
Dimitri Svistunenko
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: My research interests are centred on proteins and enzymes with particular reference to their paramagnetism. A molecule is called paramagnetic if it has an odd number of electrons. Usually, electrons in molecules come in pairs, so an even number of electrons in most chemical structures is typical. But for many biologically important molecules involved in redox reactions, there must exist states which are one electron more or one electron less than the stable even number of electrons state. These molecular states of odd number of electrons (the paramagnetic states!) are chemically active and are major players in proteins and enzymes mechanisms. Thus we study these states of enzymes and proteins to understand how they work and to elucidate their role in normal metabolism and in some pathological situations.;
Michelle Taylor
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Deep-sea / marine connectivity; Speciation; Population genomics; Phylogenomics;
Vladimir Teif
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Modelling epigenetic regulation; Next Generation Sequencing; Biophysics of chromatin; DNA-protein binding; Cell differentiation; Cancer transition; Lattice models; AR/VR tools for education;
Raj Thaker
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Graham Underwood
Executive Dean (Science & Health) - Professor (R), School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Estuarine and coastal ecology, especially; The ecology of microphytobenthos (benthic microalgae) in coastal ecosystems,; The role of benthic primary producers in coastal nutrient cycles; Estuarine ecology and functioning (fish, shellfish and invertebrates);
Patrick Varga Weisz
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Current Research Interests; Genome regulation by genome packaging;
Corinne Whitby
Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Microbial nitrogen and carbon cycling.; Microbial biodegradation of hydrocarbons with a specific focus on naphthenic acid (NA) biodegradation in aquatic and terrestrial environments.; Impact of nanoparticles on microbial communities in the environment.; Characterization of microbial communities in bioaerosols.; I am currently PI on several research grants including a BBSRC-CASE project 'Using synthetic biology to forward engineer catabolic pathways in Psudomonads for use as biotechnological tools in the bioremediation of oil sands process waters, a NERC-CASE project to analyse plant-microbial interactions in the soil rhizosphere, a NERC-CASE project with Forest Research to analyse the Spatio-temporal dynamics of microbial community structure and function across an afforestation chronosequence.; I am also Co-I on a NERC funded project to investigate The role of lateral exchange in modulating the seaward flux of C, N, P, and Co-I on an EU-funded project for FrameWork 7 (FP7) to measure Human Exposure to Aeorosol Contaminants in Modern Microenvironments (HEXACOMM) and Co-I on a NERC-funded grant (RAMBIE) to develop 'Rapid monitoring of bioaerosols in industrial, agricultural and urban environments'.;
Jonathan Worrall
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Microbial Biotechnology; Copper homeostasis in Streptomyces; Lipid induced apoptosis; Structural Biochemistry;
Nicolae Radu Zabet
Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Mechanistic understanding of gene regulation; Diffusion of transcription factors; Noise in gene expression;
Ralf Zwacka
Reader, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Mesenchymal stem cells and cancer therapy; Apoptosis pathways and treatment resistance mechansims in cancer; Cell death regulation in stem cells; Redox-regulated pathways in cancer and stem cells;

Emeritus Professors

Neil Baker
Emeritus Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Factors determining efficiency of light utilisation in photosynthesis; Effects of environmental stress on photosynthesis; Spatial heterogeneity of chloroplast development and photosynthesis in leaves under environmental stress; Developing crops for improved tolerance to environmental stresses, particularly oxidative stress; Signalling responses in leaves exposed to photo-oxidative stresses; The mechanistic basis of ozone damage to leaves; The effects of UV-B radiation on cell development and photosynthesis in crops, natural vegetation and microalgae; The effects of low temperatures on photosynthesis, chloroplast and leaf development in C4 plants, particularly maize; Photosynthesis of individual cells comprising microphytobenthic biofilms;
Richard Cherry
Emeritus Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Development of novel techniques based on ultrasensitive digital fluorescence imaging to study cell surface receptors.; Measurement of lateral mobility of membrane proteins by single particle tracking.; Measurement of receptor associations in membranes.; Mobility and associations of immunological receptors.;
Christopher Cooper
Emeritus Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Tom Hall
Emeritus Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Dave Nedwell
Emeritus Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: ecology of aquatic microorganisms and the ecological role of sediment bacteria, particularly in estuarine and marine sediments, and in peat soils; cycling of C, N and S in estuaries, in mangrove swamps and in Antarctic environments; production of trace gases (CH4, N2O, DMS) by bacteria in aquatic environments, and their exchange with the atmosphere; processes controlling production and oxidation of CH4 by bacteria in peat bogs and in landfill sites; physiological response of bacteria to temperature, particularly low temperature; ecophysiology of denitrifying bacteria; influence of transient environmental conditions on competition and survival; multidisciplinary approaches to ecological research; Estuarine ecology; Trace gas formation; Antarctic microbiology; Application of molecular techniques in microbial ecology;
John Norton
Emeritus Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: Molecular mechanisms in tumourigenesis: the role of Id helix-loop-helix proteins and RNA-binding proteins in cell growth, differentiation and tumourigenesis; Dissecting transcriptional regulatory networks in cancer; Development of molecular markers for cancer diagnostics;
Glyn Stanway
Emeritus Professor, School of Biological Sciences
Research interests: molecular virology of medically important picornaviruses, particularly coxsackievirus A9, parechoviruses and rhinoviruses; virus cell receptor interactions; RNA structures involved in replication; parechovirus and enterovirus molecular biology; Picornaviridae evolution and classification; translation and processing in picornaviruses; cell biology of virus infection; virotherapy of cancer; antivirus drugs;
Michael Wilson
Emeritus Professor, School of Biological Sciences