I graduated from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (BSc. in Biology and Chemistry, Ph.D., in antimicrobial compounds, fungal fermentation and yeast biochemistry. I have since worked in the areas of microbial and plant molecular biology, enzymology and biochemistry. Initially on the characterisation, cloning and expression of recombinant cellulases and chitinases from both fungi and bacteria, and later on the genes and enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism in grasses and clovers.
The principle aim of my research is to understand components of carbohydrate metabolism and digestibility in grasses (e.g. Miscanthus and perennial ryegrass) and to translate these to improving crop performance, processability, and substrate supply for biorefining. This involves studying gene regulation and expression, the properties of gene products and their localisation within the plant/cell. This allows us to identifying candidate genes and markers for use in gene mapping and breeding programmes.
Other research activities include biorefining of plant feedstocks to fine and bulk chemicals including biofuels. We have on-going research projects along the pipeling from feedstock to product that includes: feedstock development and agronomy; pre-processing; processing and product isolation at a range of scales (this includes microbe and enzyme discovery); valorisation of other components; modelling and process integration.