Alumni

Pieter Bots

Hi, I am Pieter Bots, yes with an “i”, spelt the Dutch way. I did my undergraduate and my MSc at the University of Utrecht, then I moved to England (Leeds) to do my PhD in carbonate mineralogy. I have been in Manchester since 2012 working on the geochemistry of radionuclides and how they behave in redox-active, alkaline environments, using TEM, XRD and synchrotron based X-ray scattering and spectroscopy. When I grow up, I want to continue working in academia and focus more on the processes that occur at the nano-scale (the micro- and macro-scale are boring), such as the nucleation and growth of mineral phases.for profile5

When I’m not at the department, I love wandering around in the city centre of Manchester or any other big city. Also I enjoy playing sports, but still can’t figure out which one to choose here in Manchester – as a Dutchie I would prefer long-track speed skating, but that’s impossible here in the UK. Some interesting facts about me are that I used to be a qualified trampolining referee, I shook the hand of the president of Iceland in 2010, and once I’ve cracked the skin on the back of my head with a snowboard that was attached to one of my feet.

My favourite mineral is probably rapidcreekite, a mineral phase that I encountered during my PhD and some kind of weird mixture between gypsum and calcite, which has only been found at 3 locations (including Rapid Creek, in the far north of Yukon, Canada), but potentially forms as a precursor phase to gypsum.  If I was an element I would be technetium (specifically, pertechnetate) because I’m unnatural, I don’t bind to anything and I radiate.

Ash Brown

Ash is originally from Hull in Yorkshire. He completed his BSc in Environmental Science at the University of Manchester in 2009, before joining the Geomicrobiology group to pursue a PhD investigating the impact of radiation on microbial processes relevant to the geodisposal of radioactive waste.Ash

After completion of his PhD in 2013, Ash continued in the group as a postdoc.  His research interests remain broadly similar but have increased to incorporate an investigation of the potential use of biominerals for the upgrading of oil.

When he’s not in the lab, Ash is out on his road bike in the hills around Manchester trying to win back his King of the Mountain title.  He’s not bitter about this at all.

His favourite microbe is currently Haematococcus pluvialis, though this changes on an almost weekly basis, depending on what is refusing to grow in the lab! H. pluvialis exhibits some fascinating responses to intense radiation fluxes, allowing it to make a living in some pretty extreme environments!

James Byrne

I was a PhD student supervised by Jon Lloyd and Richard Pattrick from September 2008 until March 2012. I also worked closely with Vicky Coker and Neil Telling during this time. My PhD thesis focused on the synthesis and manipulation of biogenic magnetite (biomagnetite) nanoparticles that were produced by the Fe(III)-reducing bacteria Geobacter sulfurreducens. We found that through the incorporation of transition metals such as zinc and cobalt it was possible to change various properties of the mineral including its size and magnetization. The aim was to try to improve the suitability of the biomagnetite for various different applications such as remediation, for medical treatments such as targeted cancer therapy, or as contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).IMG_7365

Currently I am a Postdoc in the Geomicrobiology group of Andreas Kappler at the University of Tuebingen, Germany. I still focus on bacteria and magnetite however I am now exploring how bacteria can use magnetite as a natural battery, i.e. either as an electron sink or source depending upon the redox conditions present. This could potentially work as a survival mechanism which enables bacteria to survive under fluctuating redox conditions or night and day cycles. I also do a lot of work focused on the use of 57Fe Mössbauer spectrometry to probe the basic mineralogy and oxidation state of iron minerals in sediments, soils or pure cultures.

There are some great things about the job and living here in Germany. I think some of the best things include the beer, Fleischkäse (which literally translates into meat cheese although I don’t know what is really in it) and the whole chance to live and work in a different country. It’s not quite as wet as Manchester here either! Some things I do miss about Manchester are going for lunch at Umami and the inevitable Friday evening/afternoon beers, although I try my best to keep up that tradition here.

Helen Downie

I’m from Glasgow and for my PhD I studied soil biology in Dundee at the Jame Hutton Institute, where I made transparent soil for imaging roots and microbes.blogHD

I am currently working on imaging subsurface microbial processes which influence the fate of toxic metals. The imaging techniques range from cryoTEM to fluorescence microscopy to synchrotron X-ray microscopy and most things in between. By combining all of these techniques we can begin to link the morphology and physiology of microbes to the chemistry of the minerals with which they interact at the sub-micron scale. This is interesting because we can replicate microbial processes in nature in the lab, giving us an insight into the effects of bacteria in the environment on toxic metal cycling.

In my free time I enjoy hillwalking, climbing, football, a bit of gardening and playing my trumpet in Glossop’s Regent Big Band.

My favourite microbe is probably Magnetospirillum because of their interesting helical morphology and their tasteful accessorising with magnetosomes.

Fabiola Guido-Garcia

I’m from Mexico City and used to have a job for designing wastewater treatment plants back there.

In Manchester FABIOLAI’m studying the redox behaviour of iodine under progressive anoxia conditions to understand how it will behave when present in the subsurface. This is really interesting because iodine is present in radioactive waste and even though scientists are doing their best to find out the best way to keep it as far away as possible from humans, we need to know if/how it can travel back to us!

When I’m not in the lab, I like hanging out with my friends, going to the theatre, concerts, gigs, dancing, exercising, or just enjoying a nice meal out followed by coffee/tea on a rainy day.

My favourite mineral is probably magnetite because I have recently learned how to promote its formation with microbes which I find really exciting. Therefore maybe, Geobacter would be my favourite microbe.

Hannah Roberts

I’m originally from North Wales, but I lived in Lancaster for four years where I did a MChem environmental chemistry degree with a dissertation project looking at strontium remediation in natural waters.

Now at Manchester, I’m looking to understand the interactions between actinides and unnamediron oxides to work towards preventing and controlling radionuclide migration in the environment. My project is joint supervised between The University of Manchester and Diamond Light Source where I will soon be completing a two month placement, using techniques such as x-ray absorption spectroscopy.

Outside of work, I am actively involved in Girl Guiding where I am an assistant leader for a local Manchester Guide group. I also enjoy climbing, walking, outreach projects and blogging. I’m also currently involved in coordinating the Pint of Science festival in Manchester.

My favourite mineral has to be magnetite due to the amount of time I currently spend working with it. My favourite property of the mineral is that it is magnetic as this can be fun/challenging to work with!

Sarah Smith

SarahsmithphotoI was a PhD student working in the Manchester Geomicrobiology group with Jon Lloyd from 2011-2015, and was co-supervised by Julia West from the British Geological Survey. My PhD project focused on the impact of microbial processes on transport properties of a host rock environment for the geological disposal of intermediate-level radioactive waste. This involved carrying out a number of column experiments under high pH conditions, aiming to be representative of some of the conditions that will be present in this environment.

Currently I am a Postdoc working in the acidophile research team at Bangor University with Barrie Johnson. I use acidophilic microorganisms to bioleach metals from a range of ore types, with a particular focus on cobalt extraction.

Outside of research I enjoy running, hiking, cycling and eating. My favourite microorganisms belong to the genus Serpentinomonas. They are alkaliphilic hydrogen utilizers and were the key players in some of the experiments during my PhD, but really I’m just a fan of anything extremophilic.

Ed Thomas

As an undergraduate I studied an MEarthSci at the University of Manchester with a particular research focus on geochemistry of soft tissue preservation in fossils, which is how I became fascinated with the interactions between the biosphere and lithosphere.  My PhD research is on the bio-reduction of cobalt and nickel in manganese minerals and the potential uses of nanoparticles.

edrocksIn my spare time you can usually find me at a pub quiz, playing 5-a-side football or following Sheffield Wednesday on their journey back to the Premier League.

My favourite mineral is apatite, specifically Durango apatite. It has many uses as a reference material across a range of disciplines in mineralogy and geochemistry make it incredibly useful, as I found out during my time at SLAC synchrotron last summer.

Clare Thorpe

I am from Marple, a small town on the boarder of the Peak District. I have been involved with the Manchester Geomicro group since 2008 when I was a master student at the University of Manchester. I then left to do a PhD at the University of Leeds but returned in 2010 to re-join the Manchester group as part of the Research Centre for Radwaste Disposal

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Clare (left)

Like others in the group I study microbe-metal interactions and am particularly interested in the co-treatment of co-contaminant radionuclides such as Sr-90 and Tc-99. I am interested in using dynamic column experiments to more closely mimic subsurface conditions.

I absolutely love sailing. I race dinghies on a reservoir in Derbyshire and sail yachts all over the world. Most recently I lead a sailing expedition from the UK to Antarctica and back.

I quite like the mineral siderite (iron(II) carbonate: FeCO3). Siderite is often the product of microbial iron reduction and is often overlooked in favour of its more exciting half brother magnetite. Siderite is important when thinking about Sr-90 capture because Sr2+ can substitute into carbonate phases.