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Personal profile

Personal Statement

I was born and educated in Glasgow and received the degrees of BSc (Hons, 1st) and PhD in microbiology from the University of Strathclyde in 1968 and 1971 respectively. I was appointed lecturer in Microbiology in 1971 and, after working through the ranks, was appointed Professor of Microbiology in 2002 and Head of the Department of Bioscience from 2003 – 2007. I was involved with senior colleagues in the major reorganisation of the Bioscience and Pharmacy related Departments to form the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS) in 2006. I became an Emeritus Professor on retiral from SIPBS in 2007 but have continued my research on a part time basis as a Research Fellow in the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering.

I have wide interests in microbiology and have made significant contributions to both fundamental and applied knowledge in the fields of both bacteriology and mycology. As a university teacher I have taught all aspects of microbiology to countless numbers of UG students and supervised over 50 PG students for the award of PhD or MPhil/MSc degrees. I have published extensively with over 240 publications listed on Google Scholar with an h-index of 51 and an i-10 index of 135.

My applied research has been related to water, environmental, medical and food microbiology. I have a strong interest in interdisciplinary-type research, particularly at the bioscience/engineering interface and have conducted collaborative research with chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering colleagues. I have also maintained strong links with industry, including a prolonged period of association with Clyde-based shipbuilding companies. Over many years my expertise and services were requested to conduct microbiological and chemical analyses on board ship during sea trials for the assessment and certification of water quality produced from reverse osmosis desalination systems on all Type 23 and Type 45 Frigates produced by Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd., Marconi Marine Ltd., and BAe Systems Marine Ltd., as well as for Frigates built for the Malaysian Navy and Royal Brunei Navy.

My current research interests are focussed on the continuation of a research program initiated in 1998 with colleagues from the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering. This interdisciplinary research is directed towards the development of novel electrotechnologies (pulsed electric fields, pulsed light, plasma systems and high intensity narrow spectrum light) for the control of pathogenic and spoilage microbes particularly in healthcare settings. This research, conducted in the bespoke ‘The Robertson Trust Laboratory for Electronic Sterilisation Technologies (ROLEST)’, is now mainly focussed on so-called ‘High Intensity Narrow Spectrum light (HINS-light)’, of which I am a co-inventor with ROLEST colleagues. The HINS-light technology is unique in that it uses violet-blue light (particularly 405 nm wavelength light) to inactivate pathogenic microbes in occupied environments with no detrimental effects on exposed individuals, features that led to its ROLEST inventors receiving the prestigious “UK Research Project of the Year” award from The Times Higher Education in 2011.

The HINS-light technology is protected by a portfolio of patents which are now licensed to lighting companies worldwide, particularly in the US where a major application is to inactivate pathogens in occupied hospital environments thereby helping to control pathogen transmission and the spread of hospital acquired infections.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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