Professor Nicola Stanley-Wall

FRSE FRSB FEAM SFHEA

Professor

Molecular Microbiology, School of Life Sciences

Academic Lead for Public Engagement

School of Life Sciences

Portrait photo of Nicola Stanley-Wall
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Contact

Email

N.R.Stanleywall@dundee.ac.uk

Phone

+44 (0)1382 386335

Locations

Medical Sciences Institute

Biography

Our laboratory studies how bacteria form biofilms. We worked with the scientific animation company Vivomotion to make an animation that explains what biofilms are and how they impact our everyday lives.

The Stanley-Wall lab actively engages in outreach activities with both school age children and members of the public. Our work has been nationally by prizes from the Society for General Microbiology (2011) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2012).

Nicola Stanley-Wall is academic lead for Public Engagement in the School of Life Sciences. Please feel free to contact us if you would like advice about organising large microbiology outreach events via sls-PublicEngagement@dundee.ac.uk

Research

The ability of unicellular bacteria to co-ordinate responses and to act as a multicellular population is proposed to provide an advantage to the bacterial population as a whole. A mechanism whereby bacteria can function as a multicellular population is to form a biofilm, a community of bacterial cells that is adherent to a surface, interface or to each other and encased in a self-produced polymeric matrix.

Bacteria living in biofilms have increased resistance to various antimicrobial agents and are better adapted to survive periods of environmental stress. Therefore, biofilms have a significant impact in clinical settings, where they are the causative agent of the majority of chronic infections, and in industrial settings where they cause significant damage due to corrosion and bio fouling. On the other hand microbial biofilms can also result in beneficial processes such as bio-remediation and bio-control that cannot be accomplished by bacteria that are dispersed in the environment. Knowledge of the molecular mechanism of biofilm formation should allow the development of novel treatment strategies for controlling chronic biofilm infections and the development of ecologically friendly pesticides.

Our research interests are centred on using molecular biology and biochemistry to understand how bacterial build multicellular communities called biofilms. In particular we are interested in the way the molecules in the biofilm matrix provide support and protection to biofilms formed by the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis. We work closely with Prof Cait MacPhee a biophysicist from the University of Edinburgh, and Profs Fordyce Davidson, Michael Ferguson and Jason Swedlow from the University of Dundee.

View full research profile and publications

Teaching

Level 2

BS22022 – course contributor and tutorial leader

  • Koch’s postulates- historical and current views.

Level 3

BS32004 – “Molecular Microbiology” – module lead 

  • Microbial diversity
  • Cell division
  • Biofilm formation
  • Controlling Sigma Factors

BS32011 – “Microbial Cell Biology” – module contact

  • Practical unit using transposon mutagenesis of Bacillus subtilis to learn about genetics, bacterial physiology, and molecular biology.

Level 4

Honours Year – annual project supervisor from 2005-current

Level 5

MSci – project supervisor from 2017-current

Stories

Research interests

Understanding the molecular mechanism of biofilm formation

Awards

Award Year
PiCLS Best Mentor Award 2021
Fellows of Learned Societies and Colleges / Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 2019
International Science Prizes awarded since 1990 / Fellow of the European Academy of Microbiologists 2018
Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 2018
National Sciences Prizes awarded since 1990 / Wain Medal 2016
Fellows of the Royal Society of Biology 2012
National Sciences Prizes awarded since 1990 / Royal Society of Edinburgh Patrick Neil Medal 2012
National Sciences Prizes awarded since 1990 / Royal Society of Edinburgh Beltane Prize for Public Engagement 2012
Fellows of Learned Societies and Colleges / Royal Society of Edinburgh, Young Academy 2011
Personal Fellowships / Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy 2010
National Sciences Prizes awarded since 1990 / The Fleming Award Medal of the Society for General Microbiology 2009