Bringing Together Research, Training & Entrepreneurship

The NBIC Doctoral Training Centre

The NBIC Doctoral Training Centre in Biofilms Innovation, Technology and Engineering (BITE) is a world class integrated pipeline of interdisciplinary training, involving a partnership between the universities of Southampton, Liverpool, Nottingham and Edinburgh. It is the UK’s first graduate training centre to address the skills and knowledge gap in the biofilm field. 

The Doctoral Training Centre provides a unique and diverse environment to students, with opportunities to network with experts in other disciplines, engage in peer-to-peer learning and participate in collaborative problem solving, as well as partake in student exchanges with international centres of excellence, attend summer schools, joint-nature conferences, and secondments and masterclasses showcasing frontier thinking. The Doctoral Training Centre provides the synergy, critical mass, and the breadth and depth required to deliver an ambitious training programme in biofilm science, engineering and technology.

Specialty Areas

Microbial Ecology & Evolution; AMR; Hybrid Biodevices; Nanoelectronic and photonic devices; Bioenergy.

Functional surfaces and materials; Smart nanotechnology; Plasma engineering; Imaging; ’Omics and Bioinformatics; Microbiorefinery; Infection Control; Modelling for healthcare.

Quorum Sensing and signaling; molecular recognition; drug discovery; polymer discovery; biomedical engineering; AMR; modelling; Synthetic Biology; Advanced Microscopy.

Soft and active matter biological physics; complex fluids and rheology; HPC modelling; biofilms architecture; Synthetic and Systems Biology.

Building Entrepreneurial Skills

NBIC provides entrepreneurial training for early career researchers and established academics and delivers entrepreneurship and business training via specifically-tailored business-focused events. Our purpose is to build commercial confidence, and promote the translation of research into impactful outcomes.

ICURe Programme

Innovate UK’s ICURe (Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research) programme enhances the impact of the research performed by universities trough different vehicles such us spin-outs, licences and collaborative research. In this programme, NBIC students are equipped with necessary training to help explore the commercial application and potential of UK research.

Training

NBIC provides entrepreneurial training for early career researchers and established academics and delivers entrepreneurship and business training via specifically-tailored business-focused events. Our purpose is to build commercial confidence, and promote the translation of research into impactful outcomes.

Our Doctoral Training Centre in Biofilms Innovation, Technology and Engineering (BITE) Students

Simone Lucanto

Simone completed his BSc in Biology (2017) and MSc in Molecular Biology (2018) at Roma Tre University. He then did his Master’s project at the University of Nottingham with Professor Miguel Cámara (NBIC Co-Director) as the main supervisor. The main theme of his project was discovering anti-Quorum Sensing (QS) compounds active against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and determining their ability to inhibit toxins production and biofilms formation.  

In 2019, he was awarded a studentship to join NBIC as a PhD student at the University of Nottingham. His project focuses on the use of anti-QS antibodies as a novel approach to treat and detect P. aeruginosa infections. During his project, he successfully identified high-sensitive antibodies capable of detecting these molecules in pwCF body fluid samples. Through an MRC IAA funded project, these antibodies have been incorporated into a lateral flow device as a first step to develop a home test to diagnose P. aeruginosa in pwCF. 

Iona Willingham

Iona graduated with a medical degree (BMBS) from the University of Nottingham in 2012. During her undergraduate studies she also completed an intercalated BMedSci in medical genetics. Since then, she has progressed through the clinical ranks of the NHS, becoming a Member of the Royal College of Physicians in 2017 and is currently a senior registrar specialising in microbiology and infectious diseases.

Iona is now taking time out of her clinical training to study for a PhD. The focus of her research is the characterisation and evaluation of anti-biofilm complexes produced by 5D Health Protection Group, particularly their effect on biofilms found in wounds. She hopes to keep a clinical focus to her research with plans to collaborate with NHS colleagues to test the complexes on “real life” patient samples once initial testing has been completed on laboratory models.

NBIC Jasmine

Jasmine Cutler

Jasmine is a Postgraduate Research student with the BBSRC DTP at the University of Nottingham Faculty of Engineering, working within the Food, Water, Waste (FWW) Research Group. She received an MSci in Natural Sciences from Lancaster University which included a final year research project on the use of synthetic biology to produce an organism capable of bioremediation of contaminated soil via overaccumulation of salt. 

Jasmine’s current research project focuses on the biodegradation of plastic by novel bacterial strains- a process which often involves formation of bacterial biofilms on the surface of the material.  Deeper understanding of the mechanism of bacterial plastic degradation is required for this technology to be used in the future as a possible strategy to solve the global plastic waste crisis. This could potentially be developed into a process to produce valuable products from plastic waste and could form a part of a future circular economy. 

Elizabeth Ison

Having studied for a BSc in Medical Physiology and Therapeutics at the University of Nottingham, Elizabeth developed an interest in research pertaining to real-life healthcare applications.Now a first year PhD student at the University of Nottingham, Elizabeth is studying the initial interactions of oral bacteria with dental surfaces. 

The oral cavity contains a rich and diverse microbial community, mainly consisting of non-motile bacteria. With a view to better understanding oral plaque development and prevention strategies, she is using digital holographic microscopy to improve the visualisation and quantification of such events. Her work is funded by Haleon and will produce high resolution images of the interaction events at a single cell level, studying how they lead to biofilm development and how oral care products influence this. 

Liam Jones

Liam Jones is a postgraduate research student in Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton and is a part of the South Coast Biosciences Doctoral Training Programme (SoCoBio DTP). Liam has studied Biochemistry at undergraduate and Masters level at the University of Waikato, NZ and University of Manchester, UK respectively. Liam worked as a technical assistant at Qiagen and a scientist at Medtrade Products Ltd before returning to academia. At Medtrade Liam was particularly interest in the research and development of new technologies in advanced wound care to help manage biofilms.

Liam is striving to become a specialist in the area of biofilm research. His PhD focusses on the development of a model system to investigate the role of biofilm communities within microbiologically-influenced corrosion (MIC) and their control using industrial biocides. Commercially available biocides as well as novel antimicrobial compounds can then be introduced and investigated.

NBIC Melissa Maher

Melissa Maher

Melissa received her MChem in Chemistry from Manchester Metropolitan University where her main research project aim was to synthesise broad-spectrum antibiotic candidates, which gave her experience in both organic and inorganic synthesis. She gained analytical experience from three summer placements working as a research assistant, where one led to publication.

Melissa has now undertaken a cross-disciplinary PhD at the University of Nottingham in cooperation with the faculty of Engineering, the school of Chemistry and the school of Geography. Her research will be focused on understanding the extent and impact of plastic pollution on water quality and services using established and emerging analytical techniques, and will aim to explore the fragmentation of plastic due to abiotic or biotic degradation and how environmental conditions influence plastic fate.

Erin Myles

Erin completed both my BSc in Biomedical Science (Neuroscience) and MRes in Biosciences at Cardiff University. Her MRes research focused on utilising novel antimicrobials for the treatment of Clostridium difficile, the leading cause of infectious diarrhoea within hospitals worldwide.

Erin is now a PhD student at the University of Liverpool, within the School of Engineering. With the increasing global threat of antibiotic resistance, her project under the supervision of Dr Raechelle D’Sa, focuses on the use of nitric oxide based antimicrobial surfaces to prevent bacterial and viral adhesion. The project aims to develop new applications in treatment of common hospital acquired infections, as an alternative to antibiotics.

NBIC Valentina Marina Bucur

Valentina-Marina Bucur

Valentina has completed an integrated master’s degree at the University of Liverpool. Throughout the course she has taken a wide variety of modules, most of them with applications in biology and physics, and she has completed two master’s projects: ‘Topological patterns formed by cells in growing epithelial tissue’ and ‘Acoustic Rayleigh-Bloch waves’.

Her PhD is looking at bacterial competition and colonization. Her research group will be looking into developing a mathematical model describing cell movement and competition in the early stages of biofilm formation. They will be looking at the chemotactic response of bacterial species to a single chemical. Their model is aiming to describe how different properties of the bacteria and the surface affect colonization.

Matt Irwin

Matt is currently undertaking an interdisciplinary PhD at the University of Southampton, focusing on Microbiology and Civil Engineering. Within the university, he is completing this PhD under the supervision of Professor Jeremy Webb and Dr Yongqiang Liu.

Their work revolves around biofilms within activated sludge in wastewater treatment systems to optimise their performance. In particular their goals are to increase removal of Phosphate and Nitrogen whilst limiting the emission of pollutants to improve sustainability. They are currently investigating the possibility of utilising novel bioengineering approaches to edit the biofilm communities to achieve these goals. Outside of this, Matt is interested in all aspects of the hydrological cycle and in the long term I hope to work on finding a sustainable solution to river pollution caused by agricultural runoff 

Parvati Iyer

Parvati is currently pursuing a PhD in a collaborative program between University of Nottingham and University of Tubingen, Germany. Parvati’s journey began with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Mumbai, India followed by master’s in biotechnology at Symbiosis International University, India. Parvati’s  master’s thesis focused on how polyamines, which are vastly present in the human body, can help survive Streptococcus pyogenes from oxidative and acidic environments. 

Currently Parvati is working with how a biocide, Triclosan, induces antimicrobial tolerance in Staphylococcus aureus and the role of stringent response in this. Parvati is also interested in deciphering how this changes in planktonic vs a biofilm, for which using polyacrylamide nanosensor to detect pH and Oxygen. Parvati plans on decoding the pathway associated with stringent response and antimicrobial tolerance which will help us understand how to administer antibiotics to patients. 

NBIC Valentina Marina Bucur

Alice Graham

Alice completed a Biology BSc and Biomedical Sciences Research MSc at the University of Bristol. During which she became interested in modelling diseases especially Cystic Fibrosis in-vitro.  

She is now in the first year of her PhD at the University of Nottingham exploring 3D printing as a way to develop models of cystic fibrosis infection for effective antimicrobial testing. The multi-disciplinary project working with both NBIC and the Dialling Up Performance for On Demand Manufacturing programme will explore 3D printable materials and their interactions with cystic fibrosis pathogens and cultured human cells.  

Our Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) Students

Abbie Johnson

Abbie completed her BSc in Chemistry at The University of Warwick and her MSc in Chemistry at University of Liverpool, which was focused on the synthesis and application of hybrid silica nanoparticles. She is now a PhD student working within the Open Innovation Hub for Antimicrobial Surfaces at University of Liverpool.

Her PhD project is in collaboration with NSG Pilkington’s and focusses on studying the structure-property relationships between novel antimicrobial glass coatings and bacteria. This involves modification of the coating formulation and application conditions, alongside extensive characterisation and microbial evaluation, to guide the development of more effective antimicrobial coatings on glass.

Yoshiki Cook

Yoshiki is a Postgraduate Research student working within the Molecular Biophotonics and Imaging Group, in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton. Having studied for an integrated Masters in Pure and Applied Mathematics, Yoshiki developed an interest in multi-disciplinary research in mathematical biology.

Yoshiki’s current research project focuses on the development of novel chemo-metric analysis techniques for clinical diagnosis of respiratory infections. His research forms part of a larger inter-disciplinary project with another NBIC Postgraduate Research student Grace McCurdy and is centred on machine learning spectral classification techniques of respiratory biofilms. Yoshiki’s project is supported by the NIHR (National Institute for Health and Care Research) and aims to develop a rapid, sensitive, and robust analysis tool and prototype diagnosis device for clinical translation.

NBIC Jasmine

Kayla Bunton

Kayla completed her degree in Biomedical Science in 2015, then went to complete her PGCE (Biology education) and after 7 years in education returned in 2022 to complete her Masters degree at Manchester Metropolitan University before joining the research area in 2023 under the supervision of Dr James Redfern to start her PhD in Natural Sciences.

During Kayla’s time as a PhD student, she has worked in partnership with NBIC, and has been investigating biofilm formation in submerged environments, with opportunities such as attendance to NBIC outreach and training events, presenting her current research at annual conferences and continued profession development into laboratory methodology. Kayla has an interest in the study of spoilage found in Water Cooling Systems and is currently perusing research to assess methods for the determination of Microbiologically Induced Corrosion and is currently running experiments to assess MIC of a pre-market biocide in closed systems, with assessment of biofilm formation on supplied surfaces.

Ellen Wikeley

Ellen completed her MSci in Biochemistry at the University of Nottingham, focusing on Microbiology for her Master’s project. The main theme of her project was centred on how specific proteins could be produced using fungi to develop a standardised assay for screening of the inhibitory activities of novel Type 2 diabetes drugs.

Ellen is currently a PhD student at the University of Nottingham, working on a PhD funded by NBIC and Unilever. Her project focuses on gaining a mechanistic understanding of how specific anti-biofilm technologies affect fungal and polymicrobial biofilm formation by elucidating the mode of action on fungal species. To achieve this, she plans to investigate both fungi-specific targets and targets in fungi that are homologous to those already discovered in single spp bacteria.

Andrei Barbulescu

Andrei has completed his BSc in Microbiology at the University of Liverpool. During his studies, Andrei developed a keen interest in antimicrobial resistance. Driven by an appreciation of scientific disciplines beyond biology, Andrei was drawn to explore the intersection of biology and chemistry and pursued a PhD in Chemistry to investigate the antimicrobial activity of different shapes of Zinc Oxide nanoparticles.

Andrei’s research focuses on exploring the potential of these nanoparticles to be applied as coatings to combat microbial growth and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Andrei is a highly dedicated researcher who is passionate about utilising scientific research to contribute to the betterment of society.

NBIC Jasmine

Danos Papapostolou

Danos completed a BSc in Biomedical Sciences but wasn’t certain if he wanted to follow research. Therefore, Danos decided to do an MScR degree at the University of Edinburgh to see if research was something he really enjoyed. There, Danos worked with Listeria monocytogenes and Rhodococcus spp, finally completing an MScR in Biomedical Sciences (Infectious Diseases) under Dr Mariella Scorti.

Danos loved the time spent in the lab and is now working on an NBIC funded PhD under Dr Holly Wilkinson and Prof Matthew Hardman at Hull York Medical School, based in Castle Hill Hospital. His project focuses on MRSA biofilms in chronic wounds, while using novel phage antimicrobials to selectively treat them. MRSA infections are a world-wide problem affecting millions of patients leading to complications such as sepsis, foot ulcers, lower limb amputation, or possible death and has a huge economic burden in health care systems.

Alicia McKay

Alicia has completed both her BSc in Biology and MSc in Biotechnology at the University of Nottingham and continues to study there as a PhD student. After graduating from her BSc, she worked in industry at Azotic Technologies, where she was involved in researching and testing biofertilizers and developed a keen interest in microbial research.

Her master’s thesis was conducted at Freenome and involved investigating the replacement or removal of REACH list chemicals within the commercial protein purification process used in developing the EarlyCDT-Lung diagnostic test. Her PhD project is funded by Unilever and focuses on elucidating the molecular mechanisms of action and resistance of microbes to anti-biofilm lactam technology provided by Unilever. This technology aims to replace the use of traditional biocides that present environmental and toxicological hazards.

NBIC Jasmine

Malek Hawela

Malek completed his BSc in Biomedical Science (2023) at Queen’s University Belfast. His final project focused on the characterisation of an O-antigen Ligase in an Achromobacter strain. For his placement year, Malek was part of the R&D team working on Toxicological microarrays and immunoassays in Randox. His time as a medical lab assistant in the food and water microbiology lab of the Belfast HSC Trust cemented his interest in Bacteriology and AMR.

Malek is currently doing his PhD at the university of Southampton, funded by NBIC and the Griffith’s Memorial Trust. The project focuses on the physiological role of redox activity in the modulation of ci-di-GMP activity and biofilm dispersal in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The goal is to characterise the role of redox in dispersal which may lead to more effective clearance of chronic infection in cystic fibrosis patients and improve efficacy of antibiotic treatment.

NBIC Jasmine

Grace McCurdy

Grace McCurdy is a Postgraduate research student in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton. She received her Bachelor of Science degree at Kingston University, and later gained experience working as Molecular Biologist at Eurofins, and recently as an Analytical Chemist at Medpharm.

As part of a paired PhD, she is a member of both microbiology and biophotonics laboratory groups combing machine learning, Raman spectroscopy and microbiology. Grace’s research aims to develop a real-time diagnostics system using Raman Spectroscopy and machine learning for use with ventilator associated pneumonia patients. She also aims to investigate the formation of biofilms within endotracheal tubes of machine ventilated patients to aid in understanding of antibiotic resistance facilitated by the formation of biofilms. Grace’s PhD project is funded by NBIC and The University of Southampton.

Alice Plane

Alice received her MSci in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Surrey, focusing her research on V. cholerae metabolic profile and biofilm formation variations across recent pandemic strains. During her studies, she also worked an industrial placement year with CEFAS developing novel strategies to detect SARS-Cov-2 in environmental reservoirs, including the national wastewater surveillance programme.

Alice is now a PhD student in the Faculties of Engineering and Physical Sciences, and Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Surrey, in association with the NBIC collaborative training partnership. Her research looks to develop a novel, non-antibiotic topical formulation to improve orthopaedic surgical site healing, which is commonly complicated by bacterial biofilm colonisation. Bacteria of focus includes the human commensals P. aeruginosa and S. aureus. Her research will make use of lab-grown 3D skin models for wound healing and infection studies.

Meet Our Team of Research Fellows

Meet our team of dedicated Interdisciplinary Research Fellows who work to deliver NBIC’s research strategy.