People

Professor Pieter van West

Pieter is Director of ICARD and the Microbiology Programme Lead in the Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. He obtained his BSc (1992), MSc (1993) and PhD (1998) in molecular plant pathology at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

In 1998 he started a postdoctoral position in the College of Life Sciences and Medicine at the University of Aberdeen. Two years later he was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to investigate fundamental molecular processes in oomycete pathogens. In 2012 he was given a Chair in Mycology at the University of Aberdeen. He is President Elect of the British Mycological Society.

His laboratory investigates most aspects of the biology of oomycetes, often referred to as "water moulds". These are fungal-like organisms that can cause economically and environmentally important diseases. Water moulds can infect animals, plants, algae and fungi.

The animal pathogenic oomycetes under investigation are Saprolegnia spp., Aphanomyces spp. and Halioticida spp., which are important pathogens in the aquaculture industry. The algal pathogens include Olpidiopsis spp., Eurychasma dicksonii, Anisolpidium spp. and Maulinia.

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Professor Chris Secombes

Chris is a fish immunologist with over 38 years of research experience. He obtained his PhD under the supervision of Prof Margaret Manning (then at the University of Hull) and Prof Tony Ellis (Marine Lab, Aberdeen). Following a period at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, on a NATO postdoctoral fellowship, he was appointed to a position at the University of Aberdeen, where he has worked ever since.

In 2003 he established the Scottish Fish Immunology Research Centre, and has been instrumental in securing its position as global leader for fish health research.

In 2001 he became head of the Zoology Department, and then Head of the School of Biological Sciences, a position he held for 9 years. In 2004 he was appointed to the Established Chair of Zoology at Aberdeen, and in 2014 to the Regius Chair of Natural History. He is a Past President of the International Society of Developmental and Comparative Immunology, and in 2013 was given Honorary life membership of the International Society of Fish & Shellfish Immunology.

In 1998 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, and in 2007 elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE). In the same year he was awarded the RSE Alexander Ninian Bruce prize for "his outstanding contribution to our understanding of the immune system of fish, particularly salmonids". In 2014 he was awarded an Honorary DSc from the University of Hull. He is Editor of his subject journal of Fish & Shellfish Immunology and on the editorial boards of Veterinary Immunology & Immunopathology, and Molecular Immunology.

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Professor Sam Martin

The interactions between energy metabolism, nutrition and immune function are poorly described in fish. Sam Martin’s group is exploring how the fish’s capacity to raise an immune response to pathogens can be modified by both energy reserves and diet.

During a response to pathogens energy is reallocated from fat and protein reserves by complex interactions between cytokines and growth promoting factors, allowing for production of immune molecules to fight the infection.

Sam's group has taken both in vivo and in vitro approaches to explore these processes, focussing on muscle (as key protein reserve) and immune organs including kidney and liver.  Recent years have seen dramatic changes in the composition of diets for carnivorous fish with higher levels of plant protein sand oils replacing wild sourced fish meal and fish oils. The impact these new diets have on intestinal function and immune response are unknown.

Current research is focussed on defining intestinal health and its relationship to the microbiome. From a technical aspect Sam has been at the forefront of developing transcriptomic tools for Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout which have been used in a wide variety of health, nutritional and developmental studies.

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Other ICARD Members

 

Dr Alan Bowman

One of the research topics in Alan Bowman’s group in Biological Sciences is dietary protection against Sea Lice. Sea lice remain major economic burden to the salmon aquaculture industry and have been implicated in wild salmon and sea trout stock declines. Various components in some salmon diets are reported to confer protection against sea louse infestation.  In a project funded by BioMar Ld, we aim to elucidate the underlying mechanism of this dietary protection employing next-generation sequencing and proteomics to assess changes in the transcriptome and proteome.

Sea lice use semiochemicals ("smells") emanating from their preferred host for host location.  Conversely, the lice use semiochemicals from non-host fish species to avoid locating and settling on inappropriate hosts.  Funded by three industrial partners, our lab investigates the feasibility of moving semiochemical control approaches from the lab to the field.

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Professor Bauke de Roos 

Baukje de Roos obtained her PhD in Human Nutrition at Wageningen University in January 2000. She was then appointed as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Department of Vascular Biochemistry, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline. In June 2001 she joined the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen. Baukje de Roos is an active member of the NuGO, an EU funded Network of Excellence which merges the nutrigenomics activities of its 23 partners across Europe.

Baukje de Roos is a principal investigator at the University of Aberdeen, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, investigating mechanisms through which dietary fats and fatty acids and polyphenols affect parameters involved in the development of heart disease in vivo. This is achieved not only by measuring their effect on validated risk markers for heart disease but also by assessing their effect on new risk markers that are currently being developed through proteomics and mass spectrometry methods.

A recent publication reported on 'The potential impact of compositional changes in farmed fish on its health-giving properties: is it time to reconsider current dietary recommendations?'.

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Dr Alex Douglas

One of the research topics’ of Alex Douglas’s group in Biological & Environmental Sciences is the examination of  the influence of changing environmental conditions (salinity and nutrient enrichment) on the bioturbation activities of the polychaete, Hediste diversicolor, a dominant and functionally important species in intertidal mud flat ecosystems.

A recent paper reported the effects of algal enrichment and salinity on sediment particle reworking activity and associated nutrient generation mediated by the intertidal polychaete Hediste diversicolor.

A previous collaborative BBSRC-NERC grant looked at Gut health and immune function: the emerging role of gut microbiota in sustainable aquaculture.

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Professor Jorg Feldman

Jorg Feldmann is Professor for Environmental Analytical Chemistry and Director TESLA (Trace Element Speciation Laboratory), in 2018 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE)

Jörg Feldmann’s research interests concern the interaction of trace elements in the environment and biota using novel speciation methodologies and elemental bioimaging. The focus of his work is on arsenic speciation in soil/plant as well as in the marine environment. Some current projects are - Arsenic speciation in food (eg. seafood) using HPLC-ICPMS and affordable methods such as HPLC-HG-AFS, field kits-  Inorganic arsenic in seaweed (analytical chemistry and environmental studies) and - Arsenolipids in marine samples (stranded pilot whales, seaweed): the analysis, the occurrence and the origin of arsenic containing lipids.

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Dr Hai Deng

Dr Deng is a senior lecturer in the Marine Biodiscovery Centre, University of Aberdeen. One of the research interests of Dr Deng’s group is in understanding possible biological functions of small molecules produced by pathogens. We have expertise in the isolation and characterisation of novel bioactives, tracing biosynthetic pathways using genome mining analysis and applying novel enzymes as industrial biocatalysts.

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Professor Frithjof Kuepper

Professor Frithjof C. Küpper is Chair in Marine Biodiversity at the University of Aberdeen (School of Biological Sciences, Cruickshank Building). Prior to this, he held a readership (2009-2011) / lectureship (2003-2009) and the position of Head of the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP) at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) from 2003-2008.

His research interests are in the biochemistry and biodiversity of marine algae and microbes. His current research is on Oomycete pathogens of marine algae; iodine and defence metabolism in marine brown algae; trace metal uptake and storage in marine algae and the biodiversity and taxonomy of marine brown algae.

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Dr Petra Louis

Petra Louis is a molecular microbiologist with over twenty-five years of research experience. She obtained her Diploma in Biology (1992) and PhD in Microbiology (1996) from the University of Bonn, Germany, where she conducted research on osmoadaptation in halophilic bacteria.

She took up a post-doctoral position at the University of Aberdeen in 1998 to work on stress responses in Escherichia coli, supported by the Wellcome Trust and an EU Marie Curie post-doctoral fellowship. This was followed by research on RNA secondary structure melting during translation in yeast funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Since February 2002, Petra has held a position as principal investigator at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen. Her research concentrates on the activities of the microbial community that inhabits the human intestine and how it can be modulated by diet to improve human health. She utilises are wide range of technical approaches, including strictly anaerobic microbiology of pure strains and mixed microbial consortia, molecular microbial community analysis, genomics, metagenomics and proteomics, and she has recently started to apply her expertise to fish gut microbiota during collaborative work with Professor Sam Martin.

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Professor David Lusseau

We are interested in understanding how individuals make decisions when uncertain and what the consequences of those decisions are for their health, social life, and demographic contributions. This focus leads use to ask applied questions such as determining how condition-mediated factors influence population dynamics. This is crucial to manage for example parasite impacts or the consequences of disturbances on individuals. We also develop new models on collective behaviour which have applications to understand for example how animal schools move, but also how human activities can be managed sustainably to help achieve the UN Global Goals.

We blend new statistical and mathematical modelling developments with unique data collection approaches to achieve these goals. While you can most often find us in front of a white board or coding new programmes on a computer, we also spend time collecting data too in the field and the lab using all sorts of new approaches with a focus on automation.

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Professor Vladimir Nikora

Vladimir Nikora is Professor, Sixth Century Chair in Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Leader of the Mechanics of Fluids, Soils and Structures Research Group at the School of Engineering, the University of Aberdeen.

Vladimir Nikora’s current research interests relate to fluvial hydraulics (sediment transport, turbulence, flow resistance, mixing), eco-hydraulics (flow-biota interactions at multiple scales, ecologically relevant transport processes, vegetated channels, surface-subsurface flow interactions, benthic boundary layers), and fundamental issues of rough-bed flow hydrodynamics.

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Professor Stuart Piertney

Stuart Piertney is Chair in Molecular Ecology and Evolution. Research within the Piertney-Lab centres on the use of molecular markers to provide novel insight into the ecology, evolution and conservation of natural populations.

Next generation 'omics technologies and high throughput DNA sequencing is used to gain a more holistic understanding of adaptation and genomic response to environmental and ecological change.

A lot of current effort is focussed on marine invertebrate species, with a focus on understanding speciation genomics in intertidal isopods, adaptation in deep-ocean amphipods, and characterising deep-sea communities using metagenomics. 

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Dr Alan Sneddon 

Alan Sneddon is a principal investigator within the Metabolic Health Group, Rowett Institute and his current research interests are in the role of micronutrients in health and disease. This work involves accurately quantifying micronutrient levels within different food products within the diet and also in developing improved markers to assess their bioavailability within the body in intervention trials.

He has been involved in investigating the effects of seasonality and location on fish, shellfish and seaweed nutrient, micronutrient and heavy metal content and has also carried out human intervention studies to examine the effect of regular shellfish/salmon consumption on modulating nutrient/heavy metal status and promoting health.

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Dr Jeremy Sternberg

Jeremy Sternberg is senior lecturer at the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen. One research interest is in developing an understanding of the relationship of small –metabolic markers and the stages of diseases particularly with human African trypanosomiasis.

The use of an untargeted global metabolic profiling approach for the discovery of novel candidate stage-diagnostic markers in infection using 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy can potentially be adapted for metabolic profiling within the aquaculture setting for early disease diagnosis.

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Professor Norval Strachan

Norval Strachan holds a chair in Physics at the University of Aberdeen. His main research interest is in understanding how humans become ill by infectious diseases and what can be done to reduce the burden of illness. The questions that arise in this area cannot be addressed by a single discipline and so interdisciplinary approaches and solutions are required. This area is benefiting from the synthesis of molecular biology, statistical/mathematical methods, the social sciences as well as conventional environmental, food and medical microbiology and epidemiological techniques.

One of Norval’s research areas is image analysis and pattern recognition techniques applied to fisheries and environmental sciences.

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Dr David Stead

David Stead is a Senior Research Fellow at the Aberdeen Proteomics, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health. One of the research projects David has been involved in is in the effect of a single meal on the postprandial expression of hepatic proteins in fish which has shown that temporal changes occur in the trout liver proteome. The aim is to develop a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling nutrient utilization to be able to generate sustainable and functional diets and improve the efficiency of aquaculture.

Aberdeen Proteomics provides protein analytical services to the academic and industrial research communities, from one-off protein identifications to quantitative proteomics studies for a wide range of organisms and sample types, including clinical, animal, plant, microbial and viral samples.

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Professor Ioannis Theodossiou

Ioannis Theodossiou holds a chair in Economics at the University of Aberdeen. He has published a number of working and discussion papers on various factors in economics.

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Professor Graham Pierce

Graham Pierce is an Honorary Research Fellow whose research interests include predator (e.g. seal) impacts on cultured fish and the biological and socioeconomic interactions between aquaculture and fisheries.