Research Team


Dr. Jags Pandhal

Principle Investigator

I am a biological engineer with a passion for interpreting the complexities of natural systems into engineering solutions.


Josie McQuillan

PhD student

My research is focussed on developing and applying tools to genetically engineer microalgae (primarily Chlamydomonas reinhardtii) for high-value product synthesis, and to further improve these organisms as chassis for industrial biotechnology. I am also interested in combining -omics techniques to identify and target areas of C. reinhardtii metabolism to manipulate with the aim of enhancing biochemical production.


Hannah Leflay


I work on a DASA funded project (Ministry of Defence) looking to degrade their hydrocarbon waste using engineered microalgal-bacteria cultures. We are collaborating with Professor Tony Ryan in the Department of Chemistry to convert these into biodegradable polyurethanes, as well as Dr. Sol Brown to create a comprehensive technoeconomic assessment.


Fikayo Adepoju

PhD Student

With a particular interest in microbial enzymes and its vast potential for use in industry, my research aims to evaluate the effect of the post-translational modification - glycosylation on enzymes produced in a microbial based heterologous expression system.


Wan Aizuddin Wan Razali

PhD student

My project is focused on maximising long chain fatty acids synthesis in marine oleaginous microalgae cells especially Nannochloropsis sp. by manipulating different environmental growth factors and the genome

Alaa in lab.jpeg

Alaa Hassan Al-Fartoosy

PhD student

We are increasingly contaminating our planet with organophosphorus compounds, which are used as pesticides and chemical warfare agents. My project aims to treat contaminated soils via the isolation of bacterial strains and increasing their ability to utilise the chemo-pollutant through adaptation and cell engineering, in order to achieve the complete degradation (biomineralisation).


Emanga Alobwede

PhD student

I am a researcher in food security – with a particular interest in creating algae-based biofertilisers from algae harvested from nutrient rich water bodies. The central thrust of my research project is to gain mechanistic insight into the impacts of phylogenetically diverse algae on nutrient cycling and the physicochemical characteristic on arable soil.


Ali-Al Haid

PhD student

My project looks into studying microbial communities in environmental samples through high-throughput protein data analysis, also known as Metaproteomics. My goal is to identify essential keystone members of microbial communities by their functionality examining the protein content expressed at a given moment in an ecosystem. This will aid me in understanding microbial community dynamics, adaptive responses to stimuli, co-existing microbial functionalities, and co-interactions between members. My current focus is on researching petroleum degrading members in soil communities previously exposed to petroleum contamination. The aim of my project is to harness metaproteomics in order to observe microbial adaptation in response to petroleum hydrocarbons, and whether this tool is effective in optimizing bioremediation applications. This will also allow me to explore the application of metaproteomics in generating synthetic consortia or co-cultures for petroleum hydrocarbon degradation.


Zongting Cai

PhD student

I am a Grantham Scholar working with Freeland Horticulture Ltd. My project looks at isolating algae and bacteria strains with novel metabolic capabilities for the biodegradation of specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in industrial waste streams. For this purpose, I am particularly interested in the bottom-up constructions of algae-bacteria consortia as well as a better understanding of their shaping biochemical interactions, ecological principles and system theories.


Helen Wright

PhD student

Having worked with the Pandhal group for several years through Bioengineering teaching, I joined the group full time as a PhD student in 2021. My project is in collaboration with Retrogenix, a microarray screening company based in the Peak District. The project will investigate the role of a key post-translational modification, N-glycosylation, in the interactions between cell surface proteins and their potential ligands. Using Retrogenix's unique cell microarray technology we aim to expand screening capability for the identification of primary receptors and assessment of off-target interactions during novel drug development.