Prof Nicola Stanley-Wall

Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall

Position: Professor of Molecular Microbiology

Address: Molecular Microbiology, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee

T: +44 (0) 1382 38 6335

Website: Life Sciences


Prof Nicola Stanley-Wall is a Professor and the Head of Division in the Division of Molecular Microbiology within the School of Life Sciences.

She originally completed her BSc in Cell Biology at the University of East Anglia, graduating with 1st class honours. Following this she completed her PhD under the supervision of Tracy Palmer and Ben Berks, entitled Protein secretion in E.Coli.

Her first postdoctoral position in 2001 was at the University of California, Los Angeles in the USA. In 2002 she was awarded the EMBO Long Term Fellowship.

While at the University of California she successfully applied for her first independent funding, and was awarded the BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship. This allowed her to start her own lab at the University of Dundee. Since 2005 Prof Stanley-Wall has been a lecturer at the University of Dundee, in 2012 she was appointed as a senior lecturer, in 2013 a Reader and in 2016 obtained her chair.

Prof Stanley-Wall is very involved with Public Engagement and has organised the 'Magnificent Microbes' event at the Dundee Science Centre in 2010 and 2012. She has also visited Dumfries High School as part of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Lecture Series.


The Stanley-Wall labs research interests are focused on using molecular biology to understand the signalling processes that control multicellular behaviour exhibited by single-celled bacteria. In particular the lab is interested in the genetic components that control biofilm formation by the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis.

You can read more about Dr Stanley-Walls research on her lab's personal website.


1. Hobley, L., Ostrowski, A., Rao, F. , Bromley, K., Porter, M., Prescott, A., MacPhee, C.E., van Aalten, D.M.F.,Stanley-Wall, N.R. 2013 “A bacterial hydrophobin coats the Bacillus subtilis biofilm” Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA vol. 110(33) pp.13600-5 doi:10.1073/pnas.1306390110

$ These authors contributed equally. Highlighted by Nature reviews Microbiology.

2. Cairns, L.S., Marlow, V. L., Bissett, E., Ostrowski, A., and Stanley-Wall, N.R. 2013 “A mechanical signal transmitted by the flagellum controls signalling in Bacillus subtilisMolecular Microbiologydoi:10.1111/mmi.12342

Subject of a Micro-commentary and Highlighted by Nature reviews Microbiology.

3. Ostrowski, A., Merhert, A., Prescott, A., Kiley, T.B., and Stanley-Wall, N.R. 2011 “YuaB functions synergistically with the exopolysaccharide and TasA amyloid fibers to allow biofilm formation by Bacillus subtilis.” Journal of Bacteriology vol. 193 pp.4821-31

4. Burrell, M., Hanfrey, C.C., Murray, E.J., Stanley-Wall, N.R., and Michael, A.J. 2010 “Evolution and multiplicity of arginine decarboxylases in polyamine biosynthesis and essential role in Bacillus subtilis biofilm formation”. Journal of Biological Chemistry vol. 285 pp. 39224-39238

5. Kiley, T.B. and Stanley-Wall, N.R. 2010 “Post-translational control of Bacillus subtilis biofilm formation mediated by tyrosine phosphorylation” Molecular Microbiology vol. 78 pp.947-963

Q & A with Nicola Stanley-Wall

The University of Dundee was recruiting a microbiologist at the time I was looking for a place to set up my own lab. It offered a great environment in terms of the colleagues, facilities and resources that were available. I was also convinced, by those in charge, that the University wanted to build up its microbiology research by future recruitment and that I would be able to be involved in this process. This is something that has happened and it has made for a supportive and collaborative work place.

At the more personal level, Dundee has local biotechnology companies and my husband is now employed in this sector of the economy. I also like living near the beach!

In terms of highlights in my career I would not like to pick any one event. I like to celebrate all of the “wins”: for example, research papers being accepted, well delivered talks from of members of the lab, undergraduate students doing well and, of course, grant applications that are successful. They are all important events.

My hopes for women in science are that they can be themselves and do what they want to do in a style that suits them.

This is a difficult question to answer as there is no one ideal role model. It all depends on what you want to accomplish at a personal level. But in general I guess I think someone who is open about the positives and negatives of the role that they are in and is willing to meet with people to talk to them.

I try to be as productive as possible in work time to allow me the freedom to spend time with my friends and family outside work.

I like the mix of responsibilities. I run a research group and one of my favourite things to do is to spend time with people talking about their results and helping them to design future experiments. I also teach and I try to make my teaching sessions as interactive as possible to help students learn the key concepts.

I am also active in the field of public engagement of science. In this arena I enjoy meeting a wide range of people and discussing with them the general role of microbes in the environment and in their health.