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Research Team

Professor Jagroop Pandhal (Jags)

Principle Investigator

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


Josie McQuillan


I'm working on a Department of Energy grant (USA) to optimise synthetic microbial communities for biomanufacturing. We have three engineered strains that are reliant on each other, including the ability to fix nitrogen and carbon from the atmosphere. If made more feasible, this could be a the most sustainable production platform for the future. I'm using quantitative proteomics tools to look for metabolic bottlenecks. 


Elbaraa ElGhazy 


I am a civil engineer who became interested in applications utilising photosynthetic microorganisms, especially algae and cyanobacteria. I currently work on an EPSRC project that investigates carbon capture using aerosolized algae. The project is in collaboration with TATA Steel.


Amy Birss

PhD Student

I have recently completed my MEng in Chemical Engineering with Biological Technology at the University of Sheffield and worked with the Pandhal Research Group during my research project. My PhD project is based between Sheffield and The  Genome Institute in Singapore, and is looking into the evolution of co-cultures and how this can be used in industry. I will be using techniques such as next generation sequencing, metaproteomics and metagenomics to track the evolution of the complex microbial consortia. I hope to compare the effects of immobilising the consortium with free moving consortium and the benefits each method could have on the efficiency treatment. 


Austin Semple

PhD student

After recently graduating with a degree in Biotechnology, I am working on a project which aims to elucidate interaction patterns among  synthetic microbial consortia, based on their ability to digest various carbon compounds. Using proteomics and further biochemical assays to analyse and interpret results, I hope to better understand the underlying mechanisms which contribute to beneficial symbiotic relationships between algae and bacteria, so that the rational design of co-cultures for applications like bioremediation can be improved.


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.

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Zongting Cai


I explore pioneering solutions in microbial systems engineering, specialising in algae biotechnology. Drawing upon my PhD experience, my current work focuses on the innovative co-production of biopolymers, namely PHA and Cellulose, using algae-bacteria consortia and industrial leachate as feedstock. I am particularly interested in screening and optimising synthetic consortia's functionality under diverse conditions and novel in vivo modifications of the polymers with the aim to enhance their properties, which benefit industrial applications.


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.

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Jose Cachay Morante

PhD student

Bachelor of Science in Biology, I have worked in the production and scale up of different microalgae species for oil extraction and direct human consumption. I have a special interest in the biosynthesis of natural products from microalgae and their potential as bio-factories to contribute to the development of industrial production. My research investigates the possibility of producing cannabinoids, with a particular focus in cannabidiol, using heterologous expression in microalgae hosts. With this work I hope to generate a way of obtaining low-cost high-purity cannabinoids for its use in the pharmaceutical industry.

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