Zoomposium 9: 7 October 2020

Published: 7 October 2020

Dr JOHN MOREAU: 'Less mess, less stress: autotrophic design for gold mining waste water bioremediation' Dr CIARA KEATING: 'Our focus determines our reality - fundamental microbiology is the missing link' Dr ROBERT BENNETT: 'Designer Quantum Optics'

Watch Zoomposia 9 (password: @siEo8ZE)


Dr John Moreau, School of Geographical & Earth Sciences
'Less mess, less stress: autotrophic design for gold mining waste water bioremediation' 

Historically, gold mines around the world have generated copious amounts of thiocyanate pollution as a byproduct of gold extraction from processed ore material. A few bioremediation systems adapted from municipal wastewater treatment technology have been developed to handle this pollution, but these incur high reagent and operational costs due to inefficiencies and over-engineering. Based on our work with environmental microorganisms capable of oxidising sulfur under sometimes extreme conditions, a novel and robust autotrophic microbial consortium was developed from contaminated mine tailings for use in a simplified and more efficient bioreactor system.


Dr Ciara Keating, James Watt School of Engineering
'Our focus determines our reality - fundamental microbiology is the missing link'

Anaerobic digestion (AD) biotechnologies produce renewable energy (methane gas) from waste using a complex microbial consortium. Innovations in AD are typically reactor or process driven. In fact, my previous research investigated the feasibility of a novel low-temperature anaerobic digestion (LtAD) hybrid bioreactor for sewage treatment and renewable energy production that was later translated to full-scale with industrial partner NVP Energy. In comparison, our investigations into the complex microbial community (typically snapshots through DNA sequencing) have not been translated to the field – the ability to control or bioaugment the microbial biomass remains elusive. We know that the methane-producing organisms are the most vulnerable to inhibition and ultimately can cause reactor acidification or poor methane yields. Yet we do not have a mechanistic insight into this response at the species level, hindered by a rudimentary toolkit to study the physiology of strictly anaerobic microorganisms. It is my ambition to combine my skills in microbiology and engineering to bring state-of-the-art methods from molecular microbiology together with novel methods in imaging and microfluidics to create new ways of understanding and ultimately engineering the biology of anearobic digestion (AD) for waste treatment and energy production.

I am open to many collaborative opportunities. I am particularly interested in developing collaborative projects to apply innovative techniques to microbial community analysis, live-imaging your anaerobes! I’m also interested in international development and industry focused research.


Dr Robert Bennett, School of Physics & Astronomy 
'Designer Quantum Optics'

My research interests are the fundamental interactions of light and matter, which I aim to control and optimise via algorithmic design of photonics devices. I am interested in potential collaboration opportunities with anyone who manufactures or works with nanophotonic devices.

First published: 7 October 2020