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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


Dr Jason Brunt - Jason is currently working on the EPSRC-SUCCESS project, which aims to establish a mechanistic understanding of the interactions between aerosolised coronavirus particles and surfaces with a view to designing a new generation of antiviral surface coatings. Jason is also a highly experienced Clostridial researcher and has a key role in supervising and shaping clostridial spore-based research activities in the lab.


Manja Neumann – Manja’s PhD project concerns the obligate anaerobic, oncolytic and non-pathogenic bacterium Clostridium sporogenes. She is interested in identifying and characterising proteins in the outermost layers of C. sporogenes spores. Manja is also investigating immune responses that are elicited upon exposure to C. sporogenes spores since there is much interest in developing this species for its reported anti-tumour properties.

Sina Schack – Sina is an EPSRC Sensors CDT student with an interest in protein structure and function. She has been developing new crystallisation strategies during her PhD to deliver high resolution structural models of spore exosporium and coat proteins, which in the longer term should lead to improved sensors for spores with applications in decontamination and therapeutics.

Yao Xiao – Yao’s PhD is supported by Dstl. He is continuing to develop the ELM quantitative image analysis technique, making improvements to the software while constructing fluorescent reporter strains that enable the precise measurement of structural perturbations that occur when spores are exposed to various chemical and physical treatments.

Suraj Mital - Suraj's research focuses on developing a systematic method to produce ‘difficult to express’ enzymes for bio-catalysis - primarily those that have a higher propensity to form inclusion bodies in heterologous hosts. He is currently working on a metabolic/strain engineering approach in E. coli. He is also investigating Bacillus subtilis for spore surface display and media secretion as alternative production methods for commercially important enzymes.

Gabrielle Mills – Gabby is a Gates Cambridge Scholar whose PhD is focused on increased understanding of the ultrastructure of Clostridioides difficile and Clostridium perfringens spores. Gabby uses predominantly proteomic, mass spectrometry and CRISPR-assisted fluorescence microscopy approaches to gain insight to the proteins that comprise the outermost layers in spores of these species. She hopes to then use this information to develop improved diagnostic tools for these pathogens.

Xiao Lin - Xiao is an EPSRC DTP PhD student working on the production of high value organic compounds by genetically engineering Bacillus species including B. megaterium and Parageobacillus thermoglucosidasius. Targets include terpenes and carotenoids, as well as other fatty acids for use in biofuels. The latter will also be compared to production in microalgae for ease of extraction in downstream processing.

Giannina Ow-Young-Villareal – Gia is in the first year of her PhD. She is focusing on the structural and functional characterisation of ‘early-stage’ components of the spore germination apparatus i.e., germinant receptors and the calcium DPA channel. Gia is combining molecular genetic, super resolution microscopy and X-ray crystallographic techniques to reveal the molecular mechanisms that underpin spores’ ‘return to life’.