Delivering NBIC’s Research Strategy

Dr Callum Highmore

Callum’s PhD focused on foodborne pathogens in the viable but nonculturable state. During his NBIC Fellowship, he will be applying Raman spectroscopy techniques for the detection and characterisation of biofilm in a range of samples spanning food and healthcare sectors, with the intent of continuing his research into nonculturable bacterial states.

This research will be carried out in collaboration with the Faculties of Engineering and Physical Sciences, and Medicine, and in the first instance will assess the clinical utility of Raman spectroscopy as a diagnostic tool in Cystic Fibrosis.

Dr Gavin Melaugh

Gavin is a NBIC Fellow in the Physics Department at the University of Edinburgh working with Professor Cait MacPhee and Rosalind Allen. Gavin studied Chemistry at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), moving to the Physics department to do his PhD in molecular modelling and computer simulations of porous liquids.

This work led to the design, synthesis, and characterisation of the first ever liquids of this kind. At Edinburgh, Gavin uses a combination of experiments and computational simulations to investigate aggregation and collective phenomena in biofilm-forming bacteria such as the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the wastewater treatment bacteria Comamomas denitrificans.

Dr Joe Parker

Joe has nearly two decades’ experience understanding evolutionary and ecological relationships between organisms using DNA sequence data, spanning everything from viruses to whales and oak trees. An EAP early adopter of portable nanopore sequencing technology using the USB-connected MinION device, he is an expert in field-based DNA sequencing and analyses.

At NBIC, Joe applies rapid, portable real-time data collection methods and develops cloud-based, big-data analytics to produce actionable insights into biofilm species composition. He is also interested in using this data to pose deeper questions about biofilm evolutionary processes including horizontal gene transfer and antimicrobial resistance. He is also interested in the use of mechatronics, automation, architecture and service design in scaling-up molecular assays, having spent the pandemic designing and commissioning highly automated molecular labs which processed over a million Covid-19 tests.

Dr Nga-Tsing ‘Kayto’ Tang

Kayto completed her MEng and PhD in chemical engineering and analytical science at the University of Manchester. Her PhD involved the study of cells associated with urological cancers using both Raman and FTIR techniques. In collaboration with the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, she investigated a series of prostate and bladder cells lines that represent those cells that might be found in urine samples and using a chemometric approach. Also, she interfaced a microfluidic platform to the Raman system to study the uptake of dietary fatty acids by prostate cancer cells, which has implications for prostate cancer progression. She also worked as a PDRA at the University of Manchester after graduated from her PhD, which was a project funded by AstraZeneca as an extension of an EPSRC Impact Acceleration Award (IAA). She is now focusing on analysis of biofilms using Raman spectroscopy and associated technologies.  

Dr Peng Bao

Dr Peng has a multidisciplinary background. He earned his PhD in experimental condensed matter physics, then worked in the field of semiconductor physics for three years (including nanofabrication, characterization, and computer simulation of thin-film transistors). He has also worked in the field of microwave device engineering for three years (improving and characterization of tunable microwave devices), and in the field of biophysics for ten years (lipid membranes and membrane proteins, LC crystal droplet biosensors, and microfluidics).

Peng joined NBIC in May 2021. He is working in Professor Rasmita Raval’s group in the Surface Science Research Centre at the University of Liverpool. His current research interests include biosensors, synthetic cells, microfluidics, and especially on antimicrobial surfaces.

Dr Ryan Morris

Ryan holds degrees from Boston University (B.A. Physics) and King’s College London (MSc. Theoretical Physics). He completed his PhD in mechanisms of protein self-assembly at the University of Edinburgh in 2013. Since then, he’s held a postdoctoral position at Edinburgh where he’s studied both molecular components of biofilms, as well as investigating population-level dynamics of bacteria and biofilms.

He has a strong interest in collective behaviours of bacteria and applying microfluidic technologies to better understand microbial life in spatially complex and dynamic environments.

Dr Shaun Robertson

Shaun is a Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham. He completed his PhD in Microbiology at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), investigating physical factors that affect bacterial biofilm formation.

This was followed by a 2-year postdoctoral position, aiding in the continued development of a nanovibrational bioreactor (nanokicking) at UWS and the University of Strathclyde. Shaun’s area of research focuses on the development of polymicrobial biofilm models and understanding the interplay between microbes present in these biofilms. He is also interested in pursuing multidisciplinary projects and is actively engaged in public engagement events.

Dr Jiaqi Luo

Jiaqi completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Central South University (China). His joint PhD program between Saarland University (Germany) and University of Lorraine (France) mainly focused on the investigation of copper surfaces in antibacterial efficiency tests from the corrosion aspect. He therefore gained experience in various surface and microstructural characterisations, thin film deposition approaches, and surface structuring techniques.

Within the Open Innovation Hub for Antimicrobial Surfaces supervised by Professor Rasmita Raval, his current research interests include development of antibacterial surfaces, design of antibacterial efficiency tests, and investigation of bacteria-surface interaction using electron microscopy and spectroscopy.

Meet Our Doctoral Training Centre Students 

Our 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.