Core Management Group - Leaders in bioenergy research

Management of the SUPERGEN Bioenergy research Hub is undertaken by the Core Management Group (CMG) comprising of representatives from each of the core academic institutions plus the chair of the bioenergy research hub advisory board. The CMG meets quarterly but also holds monthly teleconferences. 


Hub Director Professor Patricia Thornley


Professor of sustainable energy systems - The University of Manchester  

Patricia Thornley has over 20 years experience working in energy and environment projects in industry and academia. Based at the internationally renowned Tyndall Centre for Climate Change research, her research interests focus on the nexus between land, climate change and energy.  Patricia is director of the UK’s £4.5M SUPERGEN Bioenergy hub, which convenes stakeholders to focus on the research challenges associated with delivering sustainable bioenergy systems and she leads the University of Manchester’s bioenergy work within the Manchester Energy Initiative.  She is a chartered physicist, with practical engineering experience in the power industry and particular expertise on life cycle assessment.

Keywords: Environment, policy, greenhouse gases, life-cycle assessment

SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub Project: Carbon uncertainties in the supply chain.

Professor Tony Bridgwater 


Tony Bridgwater is Professor of Chemical Engineering at Aston University in Birmingham, specialising in thermal conversion of biomass for production of fuels and chemicals. He obtained his first degree in Chemical Engineering from UMIST followed by several years working for BP in Sunbury.  After returning to Aston, he gained his PhD and DSc.

Most of his professional career has been spent at Aston University where he leads the  European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) and Bioenergy Research Group within EBRI. 

His current interests are focused on the development of fast pyrolysis of biomass and the fuel and chemical products that can be derived from the liquids.  He plays a key role in several major EC funded projects focusing on bioenergy, biofuels and biorefineries.  He has been actively involved in bioenergy for over 25 years and have published extensively.
He is Technical Director of the UK Flagship SUPERGEN Bioenergy programmes for over eight years. He has been involved in winning over £25 million in research grants, which established the foundation for the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University. 

Professor Adam Harvey

 Professor Adam Harvey is the Professor of Process Intensification and Head of School at Newcastle University, School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials (CEAM). He is the author of the main text on Process Intensification: “Process Intensification: Engineering for Efficiency, Flexibility and Sustainability” (Reay, Ramshaw and Harvey).

He is the head of the Process Intensification Group, which consists of over 60 researchers. He runs the Process Intensification Network (PIN) with prof David Reay, which has over 400 members from academia and industry. He has attracted personal research funding of over £4M, with funders including EPSRC (8), EU (3), Carbon Trust, DEFRA and the TSB, and is the author of ~ 90 publications. He is also the director of the £6.5M Biopharmaceutical and Bioprocessing Technology Centre (BBTC), an EPSRC Industrial Doctorate Centre.

Keywords: process intensification; biofuels; reactor engineering; non-thermal plasmas

Professor Jenny Jones


Prof. Jones is a past EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow and a Professor in Sustainable Energy at the University of Leeds.  She is Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Bioenergy.  She was Financial Manager and Co-Director of the £6.4 million EPSRC SUPERGEN Bioenergy Consortium (2003-2011), and is an executive member of the current SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub.  Prof. Jones holds a Ph.D. in Applied Chemistry from the University of Calgary, Canada (1992), and a M.Sc. in Surface and Colloid Science from the University of Bristol.  She joined the Department of Fuel & Energy, University of Leeds in 1995, and was promoted to Professor in March 2008.  Prior to this, she pursued post-doctoral research at Northern Carbon Research Laboratories, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, in the area coal and carbon science.  She is author or co-author of approximately 250 journal and conference papers.


  • Director, Centre for Doctoral Training in Bioenergy

Research interests


Dr Marcelle McManus

Marcelle is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She has a particular interest in sustainability and life cycle impacts. Her research enables her to work with engineers to determine the environmental impact of different systems, with particular regard to renewable energy production.


Marcelle's current research interests include investigating the life cycle environmental impact of various products and systems, primarily related to renewable energy and products. Detailed assessment of the environmental impact of these systems is required in order to ensure we are making the best, most effective use of the resources we have.

Specifically, she is interested in the use of Life Cycle Assessment to determine the impact of various micro energy generating systems, the production and use of bioenergy, carbon capture and the production of renewable materials.

Marcelle is involved with a number of research consortia, which effectively enable her to pursue her research interests.

Marcelle's other research interests include process and product improvement through the use of LCA within industry. She aims to use her research collaborations to further her LCA and sustainable energy research, and to enable her to identify the least environmentally damaging mechanisms to replace our current reliance on fossil fuels.

Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian

Professor Pourkashanian is the Head of University Energy Research at the University of Sheffield and Director of the Pilot-scale Advanced Capture Technology (PACT) national facilities. He is a Professor of Energy Engineering and has completed numerous major research projects on clean energy technology and has received a substantial sum of grants from RCUK-EPSRC, EU, NATO, and industry. He has published over 446 refereed research papers and has co-authored books on coal combustion. He played a leading role in developing the NOx post-processing computer codes and subsequently soot/NOx models that were later employed in the commercial CFD software. He is a member of numerous international and national scientific bodies including a member of EERA Implementation Plan 2013-2015 (contribution to CCS-EII Team, SET-PLAN), a member of Coordinating Group of UKCCSRC, an invited member of the All Party Parliamentary Renewable Transport Fuels Group, member of technical working group for the Department of Energy & Climate Change (CCS Roadmap UK2050) and Expert-Member in EU-GCC Clean Gas Energy Network.

Dr Ian Shield

Ian Shield. Agronomist and Plant Breeder.

Ian Shield has more than 25 years’ experience working as a research agronomist at Rothamsted Research. Over that time he has specialised in the introduction of new crops and cropping systems. For the last 13 years this has involved a large component of agronomic research in bio-energy generally and plant breeding to improve willow as an energy crop. He has 5 willow cultivars on the market in Europe and more to come.

Professor Sai Gu

Professor Sai Gu joined the University of Surrey as Head of The Department of Chemical and Process Engineering in 2015 after holding various academic posts at Aston University, University of Southampton and Cranfield University. He obtained a PhD in Material Modelling from the University of Nottingham and also did his post-doc research at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Gu has an international reputation for clean energy and material research,currently leading a number of EPSRC-funded projects – worth around £2.5 million– focused on the development of advanced bio-energy and and carbon capturetechnologies. He has a

long track-record of coordinating large collaborative projects with international partners and  has successfully won over £10 million in grants from EPSRC, EU, Innovate UK and industry.

Professor Xi Jiang

 Professor Jiang has been the Chair in Energy Use and Transport in the University of Lancaster since 2009. He has an academic profile previously developed at Brunel University, Queen Mary University of London, Building Research Establishment, Seoul National University and University of Science and Technology of China. His research has been in the broad area of Energy & Environments, mainly on the border of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, with a focus on Energy & Flow Physics research using high-fidelity numerical modelling and simulations. Using advanced modelling/simulation methods (mainly computational fluid dynamics based) such as direct numerical simulation (DNS) and large-eddy simulation (LES) and more recently multiscale modelling, He has investigated a broad range of engineering problems of fluid flow, turbulence, heat and mass transfer, combustion and aeroacoustics, including DNS and LES of reacting flows such as syngas/bio-syngas/biogas combustion and gas-liquid two-phase flows, LES of fuel injection and spray combustion, and numerical simulations of porous medium flow for geological carbon storage. In the last several years, most of his computational work was performed on high-performance computing (HPC) facilities. Recently, his research is increasingly focussed more on physicochemical modelling of thermofluid systems for engineering applications.


Professor Linda Lawton

 As Professor of Environmental Microbiology, Prof. Lawton has a specific interest in natural toxins produced in water by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and all aspects of the natural ecology that influence their production and persistence. This work is primarily applied, with prevention and remediation being the key focus. Her research group have pioneered both rapid, robust detection methods for cyanotoxins and treatment methods for their removal from drinking water supplies. For many years now the use of photocatalytic water treatment for use in the destruction of toxins and pathogens in water has been a focus of research. This work is complemented by investigations into the mechanisms and optimisation of low cost biodegradation systems using aquatic bacteria. Other key areas of focus include the isolation, characterisation and development of high purity bioactive compounds from cyanobacteria through to the provision of fine biochemical reagents. This research has lead to collaborations around the globe, specifically in Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, North & South America and across Europe.

Professor Nilay Shah

Professor of Process Systems Engineering

Imperial College London

Professor Shah is director of the Centre for Process Systems Engineering, which currently has over 25 academics and 80 researchers. It is one of the largest groups in the world researching model-based systems engineering applied to the process and energy sectors. Nilay Shah  has authored over 100 journal papers on areas including energy systems engineering, bio-energy systems, and hydrogen infrastructures. 

Keywords: Energy systems, modelling, bioenergy, value chains

SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub Project: Bioenergy Value Chains - Whole system analysis and optimisation

Professor Gail Taylor

Professor Gail Taylor is a leader in Plant and Sustainability Science, where her research focusses on the challenges of sustainable energy and food production and adaptation of biological systems to the changing climate. She joined the University of Southampton in 1999 and has held several positions in the university including Director of Research for Biological Sciences (2012-2015) and Chair of the university-wide multidisciplinary Energy research group. She works as part of the UK Energy Research Centre, is a member of the Strategic Advisory Group for Bioenergy of the Energy Technologies Institute and sits on several international panels for research assessment including in Finland, Canada and France.

Professor Taylor has a global reputation for her research on sustainable bioenergy and leafy food crops and has published more than 130 journal articles on this topic and has trained over 45 Phd students. She is currently leading a 23 partner European consortium that aims to bring the latest molecular and DNA sequencing technologies to the development of non-food bioenergy crops for Europe including elephant grass, giant reed and poplar trees that can be grown on marginal land. Alongside this, she works internationally on the greenhouse gas balance of bioenergy cropping systems and is currently leading an EPSRC SUPERGEN project on assessing the greenhouse gas cost of UK and imported feedstocks for bioenergy. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and in 2015 was nominated as a member of The Company of The Annals of Botany – the longest running general plant biology journal. She is Chair and Director of the Vitacress Conservation Trust – a Trust dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of chalk streams, where she focusses her own research on using genomic tools for the sustainable intensification of watercress – developing a food crop with better nutritional and health benefits whilst having a reduced environmental footprint.

Dr Ian Watson

Dr Ian Watson is Reader (Systems Power and Energy) at the University of Glasgow. 

His research interests range from exploiting bioenergy and microalgae, laser asteroid deflection and laser and combined systems for inactivation of microorganisms.  Areas permeating each theme are complex experimentation, real time detection, monitoring and control of processes.

With a first degree in Applied Physics, and a PhD in Laser Systems, he began to research the effects of laser radiation on bacteria and microorganisms in the early 90s.  This led to SHEFC and MAFF funding to develop laser sterilization systems and EU funding to develop combined systems to extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetables, where lasers, pulsed light systems, UV, microwave and chemical systems were built and processes combined. He received significant VC funding to develop laser air decontamination systems, which also resulted in spin-off plasma air treatment technology being invented.  At the same time, I was using lasers for carbon powder combustion and co-developed a multi-fuel combustion system, capable of simultaneously combusting 4 fuels, including combustion of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels. This included extensive work developing delivery and pyrolysis and carbon powder production systems.   With this knowledge of how to grow and kill microorganisms, and utilising biomass resources, it seemed natural to develop research themes into microalgae for biofuel production, high value components  and applications of microalgae.  He is also researching laser asteroid deflection strategies and developing experimental systems to quantify and understand the processes involved. 

Professor Paul Williams

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