• Congratulations to USAR EngD student, Marco Lizzul (Campos group), who has been awarded a UCL Enterprise Scholarship to evaluate the potential of producing high value algae within the photobioreactor that he has designed.  The award will pay a stipend to extend his doctorate by three months.
  • Many congratulations to Dr. Yanan Xu (Purton group), who has passed her PhD viva!  Yanan has accepted a postdoctoral research position at Greenwich University.

Congratulations to Laura Stoffels (Purton group) for winning the prize for best poster (entitled "Synthesis of antimicrobial proteins in microalgae") at the Cambridge Algae Symposium 2013.


Paul Hellier (Department of Mechanical Engineering, UCL) and Saul Purton have received a £5000 award from UCL's "Sustainable Resources for Sustainable Cities Catalyst Grant" scheme to carry out a combustion assessment of potential biofuels that could be produced from algae.


We welcome Umaima Al-Hoqani as a new PhD student in the Purton group.  Umaima is the recipient of a prestigious award from the Sultanate of Oman's Ministry of Manpower and her project will investigate the expression of foreign genes in the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas and other algae.

  • We welcome two new people to the Purton group.  Alice Lui starts as a PhD student on the new BBSRC DTP scheme, and is doing her first 3 month rotation in our lab. Her project will investigate the metabolic engineering of a cyanobacterium to produce a novel biofuel.  Marta De La Vega is a visiting PhD student from the lab of Rosa Leon at the University of Huelva, Spain funded by an Erasmus Practices Scholarship. She is investigating carotenoid biology in various marine algae.
  • Saul has also agreed to serve on the scientific advisory board of Algenuity – a UK based algal biotech company.
  • Congratulations to Joanna Szaub in the Purton group, who has successfully defended her PhD thesis, and has started her new job as a Research Scientist at Algenuity.  Well done Dr Szaub!
  • Also, congratulations to Laura Stoffels in the Purton group, who won first prize for her poster in the Experimental Bacteriology category of the UCL Infection, Immunology and Inflammation Domain Symposium.


We welcome Priscilla Rajakumar as a new PhD student in the Purton group.  Priscilla is the recipient of a prestigious award from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and her project will investigate the production of protein vaccines in the Chlamydomonas chloroplast.

  • Saul Purton has been appointed as a member of the External Expert Panel for the European Union COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) funding programme.


USAR EngD student Marco Lizzul has won an Industrial Fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.  The award will provide him with funding to develop his photobioreactor prototype over the next three years.  This includes a set of pilot trials within the greenhouse of the Darwin Building, as well as the potential for outdoor trials on the Huxley medical administration building.  Marco would like to thank the support received from his supervisors Dr Luiza Campos, Dr Saul Purton, Dr Frank Baganz and industrial sponsor Joe McDonald (Varicon Aqua Solutions), as well as other collaborators to date.  The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 offers major awards to scientists and engineers for research, development and design.  Its aims are to support education and innovation for the benefit of productive industry.


Saul Purton has been appointed a member of the BBSRC's Pool of Experts.


The UCL algal research group, Algae@UCL, hosted the student-organised Algal Biotechnology: Biofuels and Beyond symposium on 13th February.

The symposium, aimed to enable researchers to make connections and to exchange ideas with other members of the UK algal research community, was attended by over 130 participants from academia and industry.

The one-day meeting consisted of talks by internationally recognised researchers and industrial practitioners based in the UK, all of whom have made and continue to make a strong impact on the algae community. There were also introductory presentations and poster exhibitions showcasing work currently being conducted both by industry and academia.

Please see abstracts for talks and abstracts for posters for further details.

December 2011

Following their success at the Biotechnology YES regional competition in October, many congratulations to Instant Diagnostics for achieving second place in the grand final. Henry Taunt (Managing Director), Joanna Szaub (Finance Director), Lamya Al-Haj (Marketing Director), Tom Barbi (R&D Director) and Laura Stoffels (Operations Director), who designed a business plan to create a self-testing STI kit, won awards for "best financial planning strategy" and "best healthcare business plan".

October 2011

Congratulations to Henry Taunt, Joanna Szaub, Lamya Al-Haj, Laura Stoffels and Tom Barbi (Purton group) for winning the Biotechnology YES (Young Entrepreneur Scheme) East of England regional competition for setting up their hypothetical company Instant Diagnostics, and designing a self-testing STI kit. The team also won the prize for “best elevator pitch” and Henry for “best question to a real company pitch”.

September 2011

Congratulations to Laura Stoffels (Purton group) for her prize for her oral presentation at the recent "Plastid Preview" conference held at Royal Holloway, University of London.

June 2011

Congratulations to Lamya Al-Haj (Purton group) for her second place in UCL's "Tell Everyone your Dissertation (TEyD)" competition.

March 2011
  • A £6000 grant from UCL’s Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities fund has been awarded to Luiza Campos (Civil Engineering), Saul Purton, Frank Baganz (Biochemical Engineering) and Marcos Cruz (Bartlett School of Architecture). The award will support an EngD project to construct an outdoor photobioreactor for growing algae on-site at UCL.
  • Marco Lizzul (Campos group) was invited to exhibit an early prototype of his photobioreactor at Ecobuild 2011, following selection of the project by a panel from the EPSRC and Technology Strategy Board. Ecobuild is one of the world's biggest exhibitions for sustainable design, construction and the built environment.

February 2011

Alison Smith and Saul Purton have been awarded a three year grant by the BBSRC to investigate the molecular basis of symbiosis between algae and bacteria.

January 2011

Saul Purton and Alison Smith (Plant Sciences, Cambridge) have been awarded a three year grant by the BBSRC to develop synthetic biology tools for algae and to use these tools to demonstrate the creation of designer algae for biofuel production.

December 2010

A consortium of Israeli and European algal biologists that includes the Purton group have been awarded a €5.6 million grant from the European Union. The project is entitled “Genetic Improvement of Algae for Value Added Products (GIAVAP)”.