SEMS Seminar Series: Dr Claire Stanley, Imperial
Date: Wednesday 21 February 2024 15:00 - 16:00
Location: SEMS Seminar Room, 3rd floor, Engineering Building
SOIL-ON-A-CHIP: Deciphering the secret life of soil microbes using novel microfluidic platforms
Soil is one of the most complex systems on Earth, governed by numerous physical, geochemical and biological processes, and provides the ecosystem services vital for all forms of terrestrial life. This ‘material’ supports a myriad of plants, microorganisms and microfauna and hosts a complex array of interactions taking place between these living elements at the cellular scale. Microbes play a crucial role in the ecosystem services provided by soils to humans and provide several important ecosystem functions that include nutrient cycling, the biocontrol of pathogens and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. However, despite the importance of microbes in soil functioning, there exists a major knowledge gap concerning the function and dynamics of the soil microbiome and influence of the physio-chemical environment upon microbial interaction and communication at the cellular level.
The ability to untangle microbial interaction and communication networks in soil is central to gaining an enhanced understanding of soil microbiome and ecosystem function. In recent years, it has been demonstrated that microfluidic technology offers new opportunities to study whole living organisms and their interactions at cellular level, affording precise environmental control, high-resolution imaging and the simulation of environmental complexity. Several microfluidic systems have been developed to probe interactions between fungi, bacteria and nematodes, as well as the interaction of plant roots with their environment, all of which (and more!) will be explored in this seminar.
About the speaker:
Dr Claire Stanley is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London. Her research focuses on developing microfluidic or "Organ-on-a-Chip" technologies to probe the interplay between soil-dwelling organisms at the single cell level. Before joining Imperial, Claire graduated from Durham University with a first class Honors degree in Chemistry (MChem) and then obtained an MRes in Protein and Membrane Chemical Biology (Distinction) and a PhD in Chemistry from Imperial College London. Whilst at Imperial, she was awarded the Sir Alan Fersht Prize and a prestigious scholarship from the Society of the Chemical Industry.
Fascinated by microfluidics and wishing to deepen her knowledge in this area, Claire joined the group of Prof Andrew deMello in the Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering at ETH Zürich, Switzerland as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. In 2016, she was awarded a prestigious Swiss National Science Foundation Ambizione career grant to start her own independent research team at Agroscope (Agroecology and Environment Research Division, Zürich Reckenholz). In 2020, Claire returned to Imperial College London as a member of faculty.