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23 February 2024 - 23 February 2024

12:00PM - 1:30PM

Pennington Room, Grey College

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Researchers in Discussion

BSI Lunchtime Seminar

23 February 2024

Pennington Room, Grey College

Dr Shafeer Kalathil, Northumbria University

Microbial solutions to tackle energy crisis and climate change


Addressing the global challenge of sustainability calls for cost-effective and eco-friendly pathways to go beyond the existing energy-intense synthetic routes. Biohybrid (photo)electrochemical systems can synergistically combine the strengths of biocatalysts and synthetic electrodes/photocatalysts to leverage the power of intercellular metabolism for energy conversion and chemical synthesis using (photo)electrochemistry. Of particular interest are “electric microbes” with the naturally evolved ability to electrically interact with insoluble metal oxides for anaerobic respiration, which promises broad applications in microbial fuel cells, microbial electrosynthesis, and semiartificial photosynthesis. Microbes are extraordinary chemists. In the past decade, my research has focused on “electric microbes” and their practical applications in bioenergy and chemical synthesis. Electric microbes evacuate their metabolically generated electrons to surfaces outside the cells, a process called extracellular electron transport (EET). It is also possible to reverse the EET by injecting electricity into microbes (electricity-eating microbes) that convert carbon dioxide to solar fuels and chemicals (semi-biological photosynthesis), and it exceeds the efficiency of natural photosynthesis. A primary emphasis of my research is to hack this unique “electric metabolism” to produce electricity and fuels/chemicals from waste carbon. I investigate fascinating chemistry occurring within bio-material interfaces and natural electron/energy transfer processes. My research discovers and implements the chemistry and biology necessary to transition to a sustainable energy-based society (net zero targets). I employ an interdisciplinary research approach (biology, chemistry, and physics) to understand electric metabolism, including electrochemistry (voltammetry and amperometry), advanced microscopy (SEM, TEM, AFM), spectroscopy (NMR, Raman, IR), and molecular biology techniques (genomics and proteomics).



Dr Shafeer Kalathil is currently an Assistant Professor in Microbial Chemistry at Northumbria University. Before Northumbria, he was a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Cambridge, a PDRA at KAUST and a JSPS Fellow at the University of Tokyo. Shafeer gained his PhD in Chemical Engineering with a research focus on microbial fuel cells. He has been working on “electric microbes” for more than a decade and his current research includes bioenergy, semi-biological photosynthesis, and bacterial broadcasting.


About the Event

Join us for our February BSI Lunchtime Seminar on the 23rd. These events bring together invited external speakers and members of our community to share their research and stimulate discussion. They are a great way to make connections and to discover new areas of interdisciplinary biosciences research. 



All are welcome: whether you are already part of the BSI community or have never been involved before, please feel free to take part. 

Registration link:

Location: Pennington Room, Grey College (