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Barrie Johnson

Professor in Environmental Biotechnology, Royal Society Industrial Fellow and Head of BART


I think of myself very much as a "Bangor" person. Having moved here from south east Wales in 1972, I graduated from the University of Wales, Bangor with a B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Soil Science (1975) and with a Ph.D. in Environmental Microbiology in 1979. I was appointed to the academic staff of the then Department of Biochemistry & Soil Science in 1977, initially as a demonstrator and (from 1979) as a lecturer in soil science. When the science faculty re-organised in the early 1990s, I became part of the School of Biological Sciences, where my interests became more concentrated in the area of environmental microbiology in general, and the microbiology of acidophiles in particular.

Apart from working at UWB, I have spent two sabbatical leaves at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL: at Idaho Falls, U.S.A. (a U.S. government Department of Energy facility) where I worked alongside Dr. Frank Roberto. I have been fortunate to continue working with Dr. Roberto since then, mostly in studting extremely acidic sites in Yellowstone National Park (see BART references). I have also developed links and collaborations with many other academics and industrial scientists both in the U.K. and overseas, some as a result of shorter term visits. Continued informal collaboration with Professor Doug Rawlings of Stellenbosch University, South Africa ( has led to a number of prestigious joint publications, including a recent textbook (“Biomining”) that we edited together.

Besides my university duties, I currently hold (until 2011) a Fellowship with the Royal Society (the U.K.’s national academy of science that was established in 1660; which is enabling me to devote 50% of my time to working with Rio Tinto, a major international mining company that has been a major supporter of BART’s research for a number of years.


CURRICULUM VITAE: Professor David Barrie Johnson


Barry Grail

Research Officer

I graduated from the Dept of Biochemistry & Soil Science, UCNW Bangor in 1981. After a short spell working at Birmingham University, I returned to Bangor where I completed an M.Sc. and then joined the permanent technical staff in 1984. I started work in the department's teaching laboratories and then moved to work in the animal biochemistry section with Dr J. Islwyn Davies. Here I carried on work that I started for my M.Sc. on the interplay between fatty acids and glucose utilisation in adipose tissue. In 1992 I moved within the newly formed School of Biological Sciences to work with Prof J. W. Payne on peptide transport systems. This work focused upon the application of computer modelling to peptide ligands recognised by bacterial peptide binding proteins. The work successfully identified the molecular recognition templates (MRT) present in the di-, tri- and oligopeptide substrate pools. In 2003 I obtained my Ph.D. based on the publications coming from these studies. Shortly after this I started to look after the school’s newly acquired MALDI-TOF and FTICR mass spectrometers. In 2007, following Stewart Rolfe’s early retirement, I joined BART.



Nia Blackwell

Ph.D. Student


I graduated from Aberystwyth University in 2009 with a BA in Welsh and Geography. I had a keen interest in environmental geochemistry which led to a MSc in Environmental Monitoring and Analysis, again at Aberystwyth University. For my Master’s thesis I studied the bioavailability of potentially harmful elements, particularly fluorine and lead, in the historic mining area of Derbyshire. As part of my Master’s work, I also studied the effects of abandoned mine discharge on the geochemistry of the surrounding water course in both north and south Wales. It was during this research that I first heard of “green rust” – an iron oxy-hydroxide mineral capable of removing contaminants and potentially harmful elements from contaminated mine discharge. When the opportunity of a green rust related PhD research position became available at Aberystwyth University and Bangor University I grabbed it with both hands!

My project is to study the biogeochemistry of an abandoned coal mine where a natural deposit of green rust has previously been found within an accumulation of ochreous sludge. By first investigating the parameters for green rust formation the aim is to replicate these conditions in the laboratory.


Ana Laura Araujo

Ph.D. Student


I came to Bangor to pursue a full-time PhD in September 2014. I am from Brazil where I graduated from Universidade Federal de Alfenas, MG in 2011 with a Bachelor degree in Biotechnology. As a degree course, Biotechnology is highly multidisciplinary comprising different aspects of each science. Despite of this range of opportunities I have always preferred the Environmental Sciences which led to a MSc in Biotechnology at Universidade Estadual Paulista, SP in 2014.

For my Master’s dissertation I studied the effect of redox potential on chalcopyrite bioleaching. Chalcopyrite is the most abundant copper-bearing ore in the world. However, the copper dissolution from chalcopyrite has some limitations and a substantial number of parameters that could be studied to improve the metal recovery from mining industries. When I was almost concluding the Master’s dissertation, the opportunity of joining a renowned research team at Bangor University came to me and I said YES with no hesitation.

My studies here are been sponsored by a Brazilian funding agency (CNPq) through the Science without Borders program. My project is, in general, based on the study of H2S production by the heterotrophic acidophilic sulphate-reducing bacteria (aSRB) using as energy source the organic compounds produced by acidophilic algae, as mechanism to recover metals from acid mine drainage (AMD) by metal precipitation.

Roseanne Barata Holanda

Ph. D. Student


I graduated from the State University of Campinas, Sao Paulo, in 2010 with a bachelor degree in engineering. During my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to work on a wide range of topics including quality control of industrial processes and the bio prospection of anti-oxidant potential of plant extracts from central-west region of Brazil. In the last two years, I worked with fermentation processes, bioinformatics and molecular biology analysis of Amazonian natural products.

In 2013 the Vale Institute of Technology (ITV) invited me to start a PhD project in Bangor. Accepting this “once in a life time” opportunity was a great challenge because not only was it a big change in my study area, but also I had to move to another country.

At BART, I am studying the impact of acidophilic microorganisms in the mobility of metals in low pH conditions. My PhD project has two different approaches: one is the characterization of novel acidophilic iron-oxidizing and iron-reducing bacteria and their possible role in the bio-processing of mineral ores and bioremediation of metal contaminated sites. The second approach is to evaluate the efficacy of a consortia of acid-tolerant/acidophilic sulfate-reducing bacteria to remediate neutral and alkaline pH mine waters contaminated with chalcophilic transition metals. It has been achieved by the implementation of a continuous flow low pH sulfidogenic bioreactor that uses reduction of elemental sulfur to precipitate metals in solution.

Before I joined BART I was living in Belem, in the Northern Region of Brazil, where I was born. As an Amazonian I have learnt the necessity to create a sustainable business to make a positive impact in a very poor and undeveloped region. Thus, one of my career goals is help to promote science within amazon universities.

My PhD studies are been sponsored by a Brazilian funding agency (CNPq) through the Program Science without Borders.


Carmen Falagan

Research officer

I obtained a BSc in Environmental Biology from the University of Alcalá. This university is located in Alcalá de Henares (Spain), whose historical centre is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and where Miguel de Cervantes (El Quijote’s author) was born. After that I moved to the south of Spain to do my master’s degree in Oceanography in the University of Cádiz (Cádiz, Spain). After three years, I returned to Madrid to start a PhD within the FPI program at the Geological Survey of Spain (Madrid, Spain) and the University of the Basque Country (Bilbao, Spain), under the supervision of Dr. Javier Sánchez España and Dr. Iñaki Yusta Arnal. My PhD topic focused on the microbial characterization of two acidic mine pit lakes of the Iberian Pyrite Belt, under the Spanish Government project “Biotic and abiotic controls of chemical underwater stratification of acidic mine pit lakes” (project reference number CGL2009-09070). During my PhD, I was a recipient of a FIMIN (The Functionality of Iron Minerals in Environmental Processes, European Science Foundation) grant to visit the UFZ-Magdeburg (Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Germany) and collaborate with Dr. Katrin Wendt-Potthoff and Dr. Mathias Koschorreck. I also received a Spanish Government grant to complete an extended collaboration project in Bangor University with Prof. D. Barrie Johnson. When this program ended, I decided to continue my stay in Bangor until I finished my PhD. After completion of my PhD, I joined BART as a research officer on the Coal Authority project “Research study into the role of microbiological communities in passive treatment of coal mine waters”. Recently I joined the project “Beyond Biorecovery: Environmental win-win by Biorefining of metallic wastes into new functional materials (B3)”. This programs is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) as part of its Resource Recovery from Waste programme. The B3 project focuses on developing biotechnologies to recover valuable and strategic materials from wastes, generate enriched solids for bio-conversion into new products and to put in place a supply chain for converting waste to product. As part of the project we are focusing in the recovery of valuable metals from mine tailings wastes and producing nanoparticles from acid mine waters.

Laura Catherine Kelly

Marie Curie Fellow


I obtained a first class degree in Industrial Microbiology from University College Dublin in 2001, thereafter obtaining a PhD in Microbial Ecology from University College Cork in 2006, studying epilithic microbial communities. Subsequently I undertook brief postdoctoral research at Nottingham University, before going back to my rock (mineral) roots by joining the Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute at the Open University (OU) in Milton Keynes, where I characterised microbial communities inhabiting rocks of (primarily) volcanic origin. It was during this period at the OU (from 2008 to 2011), that I began to truly comprehend the significance of microbe-mineral interactions in environmental microbiology and microbial ecology, recognising that my ambitions were to further my understanding of and research in geomicrobiology, and the related discipline of astrobiology. In 2012 I joined the tree-microbe interactions group (IAM – interactions arbres-microorganismes) at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Nancy, to investigate the microbe-mediated weathering of soil minerals. While working at INRA I secured a permanent lectureship in Microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), which commenced in January 2014. At MMU I continued and expanded my geomicrobiology research while pursuing a postgraduate qualification in teaching. Shortly after taking up my lectureship, I secured a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship, which I postponed commencing until April 2015.

While retaining my lectureship post at MMU for the duration of my Marie Curie Fellowship (PARMIN project), I am currently based at Bangor University within the BART group. For up-to-date details of PARMIN, and indeed my prior research (and publications), please visit my personal website (



Eva Pakostova

Research Officer

I graduated from the Department of Biochemistry, Masaryk University, Czech Republic in 2009. For my Master's degree I studied the metabolism, process kinetics and bioenergetics in a model acidophilic bacterium, which is widely used in bioleaching industry as a part of bacterial and archaeal consortia. I carried on with closely related PhD research again under the supervision of Associate Professor Martin Mandl, studying gene transcription profiling during anaerobic bacterial processes.

At the end of my PhD I had the opportunity to join the BART team in Bangor. I was appointed to the position of Research Officer on the BioMOre project, which is a collaborative project between 23 partners, both industrial and academic, aimed at extracting metals from deep mineral deposits in Europe in an environmentally friendly way. BART is leading a Biotechnology and Process Modelling package within the project. My part is to carry out a laboratory simulation of in-situ bioleaching, monitoring the dissolution of sulfide minerals and the metal release due to bacterial processes, while running a series of laboratory tests on Kupferschiefer ore deposit (Poland-Germany). I will also carry out tests for the decommissioning phase to eliminate bacteria, archaea and their by-products introduced into the environment during the bioleaching process.


Sarah Smith

Research Officer

I graduated from Newcastle University in 2010 with a BSc in Environmental Science, and in 2011 with an MSc in Industrial and Commercial Biotechnology. My Master’s project studied thermophillic extracellular nuclease producing bacteria, and their ability to disperse biofilms. Subsequently I undertook a PhD with Professor Jon Lloyd (University of Manchester) and Professor Julia West (British Geological Survey) investigating the potential impact of microbial processes during the geological disposal of intermediate level radioactive waste.

After completion of my PhD I joined the BART team as a Research Officer working on the COG3 project. This project, funded by NERC through the Security of Supply of Mineral Resources programme, aims to investigate the geology and biogeochemistry of cobalt in natural systems, and the use of bioprocessing techniques to extract cobalt and to recover novel cobalt products. My research will involve carrying out experimental work to investigate the use of microorganisms to leach cobalt containing ores, which could include the oxidation of ores where sulfide minerals are dominant, reduction of lateritic ores, or the bioleaching of manganese nodules. The subsequent production of cobalt biominerals using microbially generated hydrogen sulfide will also be studied.





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