UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Department societies

UCL Biochemical Engineering has three societies: The Clarke Postdoctoral Society, The Beakers Postgraduate Student Society and The Crook Undergraduate Student Society

The Clarke Society

Clarke Society Committee 2021

Founded in late 2018, the Clarke Society’s remit is to provide guidance to UCL Biochemical Engineering postdoctoral research associates (PDRAs), teaching fellows (TFs), and research and facilities staff (RAFT) to maximise the results of their work and maximise their employability. This encompasses the following categories:

  • Academic research and careers
  • Industrial research and careers
  • Enterprise & Entrepreneurship
  • Network
  • Welfare, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The society acts as a departmental focal point for postdoctoral staff and develops strategies to ensure all members are given the best opportunities to succeed, with the aim of maximising the impact of all Biochemical Engineering staff to UCL’s research, teaching, and community.

Shaleem Jacob – President

Shaleem completed his M.Eng. in biochemical engineering from University College London (UCL). For his Ph.D., Shaleem joined the healthcare biotechnology group at the University of Cambridge. This research was in collaboration with the Vaccine Production Program Lab at the NIH. Following this, Shaleem continued research in Vaccine Technology; working at UCL for a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Funded consortium project that aimed to create a generic, low-cost, manufacturing platform that standardises the development and production of new recombinant protein vaccines; Oxford Biomedica in the process science innovation group focusing on downstream processing of lentiviral vectors; and now at UCL focusing on vaccine characterisation (ChAdOX and Ad5) funded by the Gates Foundation. 

Maria Livanos – Secretary

Maria is working with Prof. Daniel Bracewell as part of a GCRF funded project directed at capacity building of biopharmaceuticals and vaccines in Thailand and neighbouring South East Asian countries. Within the Society, she is responsible for running the Innovation and Enterprise events. 

Mario Antonio Torres Acosta - Social Media

Mario joined the department in 2019 while working with Prof. Gary Lye as part of the ConBioChem project. During this time Mario worked on the development of a platform for the generation of chemometric modelling to relate mid-infrared spectroscopy to the concentration of carbon source and products of interest in a continuous fermentation mainly in the production of commodity chemicals. Since October 2021, Mario is working with the SPiDER group to demonstrate the applicability and transferability of automated platforms to maximize the usage of laboratories and human resources, even during times with restricted access. As part of the committee, Mario is in charge of social media, mainly Twitter.

James Allen - Treasurer

James has been a part of the department since 2017 working with Prof. John Ward and Prof. Gary Lye as part of the InnovateUK project ConBioChem. The aim of this research is to develop technology and processes to enable cost-effective routes to biological production of commodity chemicals. He is developing stabilised genetic production vectors capable of maintaining genes for chemical production, thus allowing continuous fermentation of bacteria for chemical production, without the need for antibiotics. He has additional interests in postdoctoral Enterprise and Entrepreneurship having previously been involved in UCL’s Enterprise Fellowship course. 

Marijan Bajic - Operations

Marijan received his MSc degree in Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology from the University of Belgrade (Serbia) in 2013, and a PhD degree in Biotechnology from the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) in 2017. During his doctoral studies at the Microprocess Engineering Research Group (University of Ljubljana), he developed miniaturized packed-bed reactors with immobilized enzymes. From 2017 to 2019, Marijan was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Department of Catalysis and Chemical Reaction Engineering (National Institute of Chemistry, Ljubljana, Slovenia). His research focus within the Future BRH will be on the development and characterization of microreactors for continuous enzymatic synthesis.

Pedro Azevedo Da Silva Couto -Vice President

Dr. Samir Nuseibeh

Samir is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Biochemical Engineering teaching a range of topics, with a focus on the processes which drive the discovery, testing and manufacture of advanced therapies and medicinal products (ATMP). Following on from five years of working in research, Samir moved on to concentrate on teaching and spent seven years developing and delivering teaching material for both undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes at other universities, prior to joining UCL. Samir joins the Clarke Society committee as a link to the teaching fellows with a focus on departmental teaching and academic careers.

Dr Jack Jeffries

Jack has been a part of the department since 2018 working with Prof. John Ward and Hypha Discovery on an InnovateUK grant. The aim of this research is to develop a microbiological platform to generate mg-g amounts of N-glucuronide metabolite standards. As the committee member for networking, he is responsible for bringing together Post-doctoral researchers across the department to facilitate skill-sharing and foster new collaborations.

Michael Sulu 

The Beakers Society

Named after both the scientific utensil and a character from The Muppet Show, The Beakers are UCL Biochemical Engineering's postgraduate events committee. They organise four main events each year:

  • Summer BBQ
  • Halloween fancy-dress evening
  • Christmas ball
  • Engineering cup

They work with staff and students not only in UCL Biochemical Engineering but also across the whole of the faculty and the wider university to run a wide range of social events and the committee is elected each year with new members.

The Crook Society

The undergraduate events society is named after Professor Eric Crook, one of the early supporters of Biochemical Engineering research at UCL. He undertook some of the early scale-up studies on biological systems in the 1950s while working in the then UCL Department of Biochemistry and collaborating with engineers in the then UCL Department of Chemical Engineering. Eric Crook was one of the original editors of the journal ‘Biotechnology and Bioengineering’ which is still one of the leading journals in the field. Every year a new committee is appointed by the undergraduate body.