Professor Norval Strachan

Professor Norval Strachan
Seconded as Chief Scientific Adviser to Food Standards Scotland

Chair in Physics

Professor Norval Strachan
Professor Norval Strachan

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 272699

Research Interests

My 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. My main focus is on gastrointestinal pathogens that include E. coli O157 (see RELU project), Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, and Listeria. Listed below are my research areas:

  • Understanding the causes of human gastrointestinal disease via environmental and foodborne pathways - using quantitative microbiological risk assessment, temporal and spatial analysis tools.
  • Integrating natural and social science approaches to understand and develop interventions to mitigate the risk of infection for gastrointestinal pathogens.
  • Development of flow injection analysis and fibre optic evanescent wave sensors for rapid detection/fingerprinting of pollutants and microbiological pathogens from both food and environmental samples.
  • Image analysis and pattern recognition techniques applied to fisheries and environmental sciences. 

Research Grants


  1. FSS (2015-2018) Factors affecting variations in Campylobacter disease rates in Scotland, £400k with Forbes and McGuigan.
  2. EFSA (2014-2016) Listeria whole genome sequencing, 70kEURO with Forbes and Perez-Reche (Part of 420 kEURO project with SSI (Denmark), Anses (France) and PHE (England)).
  3. FSAS (2014) Decision support tool for the control of Listeria monocytogenes in smoked fish. £19.2k with Ovidiu Rotariu.
  4. FSAS & University of Aberdeen (2012-13)  Next Generation Sequencing of E. coli O157 isolates from humans, food and the environment, £30.5k, with Ken Forbes
  5. FSAS  (2013-2015) i-CaMPS-3. Employing Source Attribution and Molecular Epidemiology to measure the impact of interventions on human campylobacteriosis in Scotland, with Forbes and Maiden, £749k..
  6. FSA (2013-14) A comprehensive review of current practices in the management of Listeria monocytogenes during cooked sliced meat production and retailing, £99.4k (£24.3k to Aberdeen).
  7. OECD (2013) Exploting the explosion of information associated with next generation omics to tackle Shigatoxin producing E. coli (STEC) in global food production systems with Pascal Delaquis (Canada) and Eelco Frans (RIVM, the Netherlands) 30kEURO
  8. EU (2012-2015) Parasite risk assesment with integrated tools in EU fish production value chains –PARASITE, with Graeme Pierce and Ioannis Theodossiou (4.0MEuro, 210 kEuro to Aberdeen).
  9. BBSRC (2012-2014) Integrating microbiology and modelling to determine the source of Campylobacter infection in the broiler house and develop interventions with Ken Forbes, Iain Ogden and Nick Sparks, £295k.
  10. MRC (2012-2017). Sources, Seasonality, Transmission and Control: Campylobacter and human behavior in a changing environment, with Ken Forbes £121k.
  11. Food Standards Agency (2011-12). Employing source attribution and molecular epidemiology to measure the impact of interventions on human campylobacteriosis inScotland, extension, with Ken Forbes £156k.
  12. DFID (2012-2013) The potential of small-scale biogas digesters to improve livelihoods and long term sustainability of ecosystem services in sub-SaharanAfrica, with Jo Smith, Liz Baggs and Sean Semple, £198k.
  13. Food Standards Agency (2011-12). A review of current practices in the management of Listeria monocytogenes during smoked fish production inScotlandandNorthern England,.with Dr Mike Hutchison and Dr Kaarin Goodburn, £74k
  14. RESAS (2011-2016), RESAS Strategic Partnership for Food and Drink Science: Foodborne pathogen adaption and survival through the food chain with Ken Forbes and David Smith £212k.
  15. Food Standards Agency (2011). Employing source attribution and molecular epidemiology to measure the impact of interventions on human campylobacteriosis inScotlandwith Ken Forbes & IainOgden£141k.
  16. Food   Standards Agency,Scotland(2011), Research grant review and appraisal panel £300.
  17. Food Standards Agency,  (2011), Research grant review £150.
  18. DEFRA, Review of Research Proposals, £500.
  19. DEFRA (2011-13), Assessment of the efficacy of on-farm biosecurity measures for controlling Campylobacter £445,928 (£50k toAberdeen), with Sparks N, Forbes KJ, Humphries T, Kevill WC.
  20. Medical Research Council (2010-11). Gastrointestinal Pathogens in the Environment Network. With Ken Forbes, Colin Hunter, Iain Ogden, John Farrington, David Smith et al.,. £50k.
  21. Scottish Funding Council, Interface, (2010-11) Microbiological safety (Listeria) in the fish farming industry, £4.7k.
  22. Food Standards Agency, (2010-11). Employing Source Attribution and Molecular Epidemiology to measure the impact of interventions on human campylobacteriosis inScotland. £140k. With Ken Forbes, Iain Ogden and Martin Maiden.
  23. Food Standards Agency, Quality Meat Scotlandand National Farmers Union(2009-2012). E. coli PhD studentship, with Ken Forbes & IainOgden, £33.3k.
  24. European Food Safety Authority (2008-1010),  Scientific Opinion on Quantification of the risk posed by broiler meat to human campylobacteriosis in the EU,  approx. £2k.
  25. Relu (2009) Work shadowing in the New Zealand Food Safety Authority andFood Standards Agency,Scotland, £2k.
  26. The Scottish Government (2008-09) Provision of research on evaluation of Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006 with Colin Hunter, Antonio Ioris, Colette Jones and John Farrington, £44k
  27. ESRC (2008-2011) Campylobacteriosis: Elucidating the Disease Burden, Risk Perception and Costs to Rural Communities and their Families. Rural Economy & Land Use programme Tied Studentship award, Economic and Social Research Council/Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. (With C. Hunter and J. Roberts). £55K.
  28. ESRC (2007-2010) Reducing E. coli O157 risk in rural communities with Prof K Killham, Prof J Farrington, Dr C Hunter, Dr D Jones, Dr G Edwards-Jones, Mr I Ogden and Dr J Roberts,  £1.48 million FEC.
  29. EU (2007-2010) Pathogenic E. coli network with Iain Ogden. 12k EURO
  30. Food Safety InspectionService,USA. Review of Salmonella dose response model (2006) $2k.
  31. SNIFFER, Human health and the environmental impacts of using sewage sludge on Forestry and for restoration od derelict land with Prof J Ayres, Prof K Killham, Dr S Semple, Mr I Ogden (2006-07), £23.3k.
  32. FSA, MLST typing of campylobacter – support for PhD Student, with Ken Forbes and Iain Ogden (2006-08) £10k.
  33. FSA, Gegraphic and temporal variation of Campylobacteriosis in humans with Iain Ogden and Ken Forbes, (2006-2009) £121k
  34. FSA, Campylobacter in private water supplies with Iain Ogden, (2005-2008) £192k
  35. FSA, Campylobacter MLST typing extension with Ken Forbes and Iain Ogden (2008-2009) £50k
  36. FSA, Campylobacter MLST typing extension for PhD student with Ken Forbes and Iain Ogden (2005-2008) £10k
  37. FSA, Campylobacter MLST typing with Ken Forbes and Iain Ogden (2005-2008) £750k
  38. Grampian NHS Trust, Development of magnetic drug delivery devices: a novel approach to enhance delivery of chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of cancer, (2005-2006) with AC Schofield,  I Brown, SD Heys, FJ Gilbert, O Rotariu £6.5k
  39. DEFRA – Led by Universityof Oxford   2005-06– isolation, speciation and supply of genomic CampylobacterDNA for MLST typing with Iain Ogden and Ken Forbes. £8k.
  40. FSA, PhD Studentship with Iain Ogden,  (2004-2007) £20k
  41. Scantrol a/s PhD Studentship (2004-2007) £63k
  42. Norwegian Research Council, Visiting Postdoctoral worker (Anne Margrete) with Iain Ogden (2004) £4k
  43. EU, Marie Curie Fellowship with Iain Ogden (2003-2005) £71k
  44. BBSRC Committee PhD Studentship with Ken Killham (2004-2007) (est £45k)
  45. Food Standards Agency, Scotlandproject with Iain Ogden – E. coli  O157 excreted by cattle at abattoir and its affect on food poisoning (2003) £10k
  46. Carnegie Trust, Dose Response of E. coli O157.  Summer student with Geoff Dunn (2003) £1k
  47. DNV, Risk assessment of foot-and-mouth burial site (2003) £3k
  48. UniversityofAberdeen, Visiting Scholars Programme – Peter Teunis –RIVM £700.
  49. UniversityofAberdeen, Faculty of Science & Engineering PhD Studentship. Understanding the causes of human Campylobacteriosis with Geoff Dunn (2002-2005) est £45k
  50. Food Standards Agency, The effect of FMD on foodborne zoonoses (2001). (with Iain Ogden, Dept. Medical Microbiology) £2k
  51. Food Standards Agency, Application and validation of techniques for the detection of pathogens in shellfish (2000-2002) (with Iain Ogden, Dept. Medical Microbiology) £204k.
  52. Matcon,Denmark- funded project to provide Documentation System for Industrial Fish Catches (1999-02) £120k.
  53. Royal Society, Flow Immunoassay of Pollutants (1999-2001) £10k.
  54. Royal Society, Magnetic Particle Modelling with Inst. Technical Physics,Iasi,Romania(1999-2000) £2k
  55. NERC - Mathematical modelling of Tropical Forest Seed Germination and Seedling Establishment (1999-2001) with Dr David Burslem and Dr Chris Mullins £30k.



Teaching Responsibilities

PX4011 Physics Honours Project - Joint co-ordinator

PX3510 Advanced Practical Physics - Co-ordinator and teacher

PX1015/6 Physics Laboratories

Further Info

External Responsibilities

  • Chief Scientific Adviser, Food Standards Scotland (2016- )
  • Co-opted member of the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food group on Campylobacter
  • MRC, NSF and FSA grants review panel member.
  • ESRC peer review College member
  • External European Food Safety Authority Expert on Campylobacter in broiler chickens.
  • Co-chair CHRO 2013
  • External examiner Glasgow University (2011-2015)
  • Co-chair of FoodMicro 2008 
  • Editor of Special Edition of International Journal of Food Microbology containing papers from FoodMicro 2008.
  • Member of Editorial Board of International Journal of Food Microbiology
  • Member of Editorial Board of Water, Quality, Exposure and Health

PhD Students

  • Nigel Turner:              Toxicity Fingerprinting of Pollutants, 2001
  • Tinnakorn Tiensing:     Toxicity of pollutants in soils, 2002
  • Gordon Miller:            Understanding the causes of human Campylobacteriosis, 2006
  • Helen Gordon:            Movement of E. coli through soil, 2007
  • Darren White:             Fish species identification using image processing techniques, 2007
  • Olivia Solecki:             Explaining the urban and rural differences of E. coli O157 infection in Grampian, 2008
  • Fraser Gormley:          The rise and fall of campylobacter infections in humans and poultry, 2008
  • Emma Sproston:          Invertebrate vectors of gastrointestinal pathogens, 2008
  • Laura MacRichie:        Understanding the risks of Campylobacter in rural areas (2013)
  • Eilidh Fraser               E. coli O157 (2014)
  • Murray Robb              Proteomics of Campylobacter (estimate 2016)
  • Bernhard Merget         VTEC in Produce (ongoing)
  • Miguel Bao-Dominguez Parasites in fish (ongoing)
  • Stoyka Chipchakova   Listeria in Ready to Eat fish (ongoing)
  • Benshak Audu            Campylobacter in Nigeria (ongoing)
  • Aaron Neill               Hydrological flow paths, microbiology and private water supplies (ongoing)


Current/Recent Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Dr Ovidiu Rotariu - Risk assessment and spatial epidemiology of Campylobacter and E. coli O157.
  • Dr Emma Sproston - Campylobacter typing studies
  • Dr Helen Gordon - Survival and persistence of E. coli O157 in the environment.
  • Dr John Dallas - Molecular subtyping of Campylobacter.

Recent and Ongoing External Collaborations

  • Reducing E. coli risk in rural communities - see RELU project for list of collaborators.
  • Molecular subtyping and spatial epidemiology of Campylobacter - Prof Martin Maiden and Dr Sam Sheppard (University of Oxford), Dr Alison Smith-Palmer (Health Protectin Scotland), Prof Stuart Reid, Dr Louise Matthews (University of Glasgow), Dr Giles Innocent (BIOSS),
  • Dose Response Modelling - Dr Peter Teunis (RIVM, the Netherlands), Dr Fumiko Kasuga (National Institute of Health, Japan), Prof Mike Doyle (University of Georgia), Aamir Fazil (Public Health Agency of Canada),
  • Sexual Dimorphism in Campylobacter - Prof Jorge Galan (Yale University)
  • Computer vision applied to Fisheries - Erik Andersen (Matcon, Denmark) and Scantrol a/s, Norway,
  • Risk assessment of E. coli O157 - Dr Andy Vinten (Macaulay Land Use Research Institute), Dr Mary Locking (Health Protection Scotland)

Selected Conference Presentations and Invited Talks



  1. International Association of Food Protection,      Cardiff, Wales. Operationalising factors for the emergence of infectious      diseases, May 2015
  2. International Association of Food Protection,      Budapest, Hungary,Whole genome sequencing of E. coli O157 isolates (clinical, ruminant
          and food), May 2014.
  3. RISK assessment course, Sao Paolo, Brazil, Dose      Response, May 2013.
  4. International Association of Food Protection,      Charlotte, USA, July 2013 Applying Source Attribution to Elucidate the      Trend of Human Campylobacter Infections
  5. International Association of Food Protection,Charlotte,      USA, July 2013 Listeria monocytogenes in Smoked Fish Production.
  6. American Society for Microbiology, Denver, USA.      Sexual dimorphism in gastrointestinal pathogens, May 2013.
  7. NHS Grampian talks to Public Health on E. coli O157 and Campylobacter Research Talk,      October and November 2012.
  8. FoodMicro, Istanbul, Turkey,  Investigating the risk of Listeria monocytogenes in smoked salmon production, September 2012.
  9. VTEC,Amsterdam,      The Netherlands,   MLVA typing elucidates the      epidemiology of VTEC infection inScotland, April 2012.
  10. VTEC,Amsterdam,      The Netherlands,        Escherichia coli O157 risk in rural      communities, April 2012.
  11. Campy,UK. Seasonality in human      Campylobacteriosis,London,      January, 2012.
  12. Safefood International Campylobacter conference,Dublin,Ireland, Epidemiology of      Campylobacter inScotland,  September, 2011.
  13. CHRO, Vancouver, Canada,      Elucidating the seasonality of human Campylobacter      infections meeting, August, 2011.
  14. Presentation to Food      Standards Agency Chief Executive Tim Smith onAberdeen’s research (done jointly by      research group), August 2011.
  15. New Horizons for animal and plant disease from      the Relu programme, London,      Experiences from the E. coli O157      project  (joint with John Farrington),      May 2011.
  16. Advisory Committee on      the Microbiological Safety of Food, London,      Presentation on the findings of the RELU, E. coli O157 project, January 2011.
  17. Risk Workshop,York, Integrating Evidence on      Intervention for Policy, November, 2010.
  18. Animal/Plant Disease      Forum, London,      Reducing E. coli  O157 risk in rural communities, October,      2010.
  19. FoodMicro 2010, Copenhagen, Denmark     The changing Campylobacter epidemic, August, 2010.
  20. DEFRA, London, Reducing E. coli O157 risk in rural communities, January 2010.
  21. RELU, Disease Forum, London,  Reducing E. coli  O157 risk in      rural communities, May, 2009.
  22. New Zealand Food Safety      Authority/Industry Workshop,Wellington,      New Zealand,      Microbial sub-typing and census sites:Scotland, October, 2009.
  23. MasseyUniversity, Palmerston-North, New        Zealand, A tale of two pathogens – trying to understand Campylobacter      and E. coli O157 infection source & pathways inScotland,      October 2009,
  24. New Zealand Food Safety      Authority, Wellington,       New Zealand,      lunchbox talk,  Reducing the risk of      E. coli O157, October 2009.
  25. CHRO, Nigaata, Japan,      Temporal clustering of clinical Campylobacter      strains acrossScotland      during 2005-06, September, 2009
  26. Burden of Infectious      Diseases meeting,Tokyo,      Japan, Campylobacter attribution using      Microbial Sub-typing - the experience fromScotland, September, 2009
  27. EFSA, Addlestone (at Vet labs Agency), Source Attribution of      Campylobacter using Microbial Sub-typing: The experience fromScotland,  June, 2009
  28. MedVetNet      Utrecht, TheNetherlands.      Invited presentation on spatial epidemiology of gastrointestinal pathogens      March 2009.
  29. Food      Standards Agency RELU Presentation March 2009
  30. Microbiology      theme, Aberdeen,      Unravelling the causes of Campylobacter      and E. coli O157 infections inScotland.
  31. FoodMicro      2008,Aberdeen,Scotland. Dose response for Salmonella      using outbreak data.
  32. Aberdeen     Research Consortium, Environmental Health Meeting,Aberdeen, 2008. Pathogens in the      environment – Do we need to be worried?
  33. Pathogenic      E. coli network,Stockholm, 2008. Risk Maps and MLVA typing      elucidate the epidemiology of VTEC infection inNE       Scotland.
  35. 2nd      International Conference on Microbiological Risk Assessment, Sydney, Australia. Invited talk: Dose      response modelling and risk assessment of E. coli O157.
  36. SFAMannual meeting,London,UK. Invited talk on      Epidemiology of Gastrointestinal Pathogens in the Grampian Region of      Scotland.
  37. Invited      talk at RIVM, Bilthoven, theNetherlands, Examples of the      Spatial and Temporal Epidemiology of Gastrointestinal Pathogens in      Grampian,Scotland.
  38. VTEC      NetworkIreland     meeting,Dublin,      2004. The role of Quantitative Risk Assessment in assessing and      controlling the public health risk posed by recreational exposure to VTEC.
  39. Food      Micro 2004 Slovenia. E. coli  O157: Burger Bug or Environmental      Pathogen?
  40. EU meeting, Poznan, Poland, 2003, Detection and      modelling of foodborne pathogens.
  41. Invited talk Scottish      Centre for Infection and Environmental Health, 2003, Seasonality of      gastrointestinal infections.
  42. AberdeenResearch Consortium 2003 - Epidemiology      of gastrointestinal pathogens
  43. Food Standards Agency      presentation 2003– Seasonality of Campylobacter
  44. Invited plenary speaker at      Food Micro 2002. Applications of a dose response model for E. coli  O157 to help explain foodborne outbreaks. 
  45. International      Association of Food Protection, San        Diego, USA,      2002. A dose response model for E. coli O157.