Alfred Fernandez-Castane

Dr, PhD in Biotechnology

    • School of Engineering and Applied Science, Aston University

      B4 7ET Birmingham

      United Kingdom

    Accepting PhD Students

    PhD projects

    NEW! Two fully funded PhD studentships are available the areas of “Sustainable bioprocessing and functional materials” (offer 1) and “The role of redox balance in magnetotactic bacteria” (offer 2). Desired background includes BSc or MSc in Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Biochemical engineering, or equivalent degree. PhD offer 1: Sustainable bioprocessing and functional materials: Many types of bacteria are studied scientifically and used industrially to make products such as medicines, plastics and fuels, and to clean waste streams. There exists a family of bacteria called magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) that make tiny crystals of iron called magnetosomes (MS). The main focus of the project is to develop novel bioprocessing strategies using renewable biomass resources for the production of functional magnetosomes. The three main challenges of this work are to (i) identify what process parameters lead to MTB cease growing and hence stop magnetosome production; (ii) develop alternative production strategies to achieve higher magnetosome yields and iii) develop functional magnetosomes as biocatalysts. This is a 3-year fully funded PhD studentship offered by the Aston EPSRC-DTP. It includes Home-UK tuition fees and an annual living allowance of approx. £15,600. Please email Dr Alfred Fernandez-Castane ( for further details on the application process. Closing date for entries: 31st January 2022 PhD offer 2: The role of redox balance in magnetotactic bacteria: Magnetotactic bacteria produce magnetosomes, structures that contain magnetite (Fe3O4) and allow the microbe to align in magnetic fields. Magnetosomes are of great interest as sources of magnetic nanoparticles for biotechnology applications, but knowledge of their synthesis, regulation and biochemical effects is still limited. Evidence is emerging that their production is redox-dependent, they may be redox-active in vivo and have protective effects against environmental stress. Building on expertise in growth of magnetotactic bacteria at Aston, this project will investigate the properties of the magnetosome membrane under different growth and redox conditions to determine how the bacteria avoid lethal oxidative damage from iron-dependent reactions and what antioxidant activities are present. Lipidomic and proteomic studies under different conditions will provide new understanding of magnetosome properties and enable improved magnetosome production. This project is funded by the MIBTP-BBSRC doctoral training programme and is in collaboration with Prof Corinne Spicket ( Project description: For further details and application process please visit: Closing date for entries: 9th January 2022 If you are interested in any of the above offers, I strongly encourage you to contact me in advance to submitting your application ( Applications are welcomed all year round from self-funded PhD candidates in the following areas: - Microbial and applied biotechnology - Magnetotactic bacteria - Microbial biopolymers and monomers - Biomass conversion using enzyme and whole-cell biocatalysis - Biotechnology for biorefineries Please contact Dr Alfred Fernandez-Castane via email ( for informal discussion about your project in advance to submitting your application.


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    Personal profile

    Research Interests

    Dr. Alfred Fernández-Castané is Lecturer in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and Principal Investigator within the Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) and Aston Institute of Materials Research (AIMR) groups at Aston University. He graduated in Biology by the Universitat de Barcelona (UB, Spain) and afterwards he pursued his MSc in Advanced Biotechnology at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB, Spain). He carried out his PhD thesis within the Chemical Engineering Department at UAB. His project focused on the development of a method to directly quantify IPTG in E. coli cytoplasm and medium samples. This methodology led to gaining a better knowledge and understanding of inducible systems, gene regulation and optimization of recombinant protein production. His PhD in Biotechnology was awarded in 2012 and he moved to France as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the ISSB-Evry where he developed his skills in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. Dr Fernández-Castané joined Dr Overton’s lab in 2014 as a Research Fellow in the €2.4m ERA-IB ProSeCa project at the University of Birmingham (UK). His research interests rely on the development of more sustainable and cost effective bioprocesses for the production of high-value products with industrial interest. Current research areas encompass the production of magnetosomes from magnetotactic bacteria, biodegradable biopolymers and enzymes for biofuels application.

    He is keen on outreach activities and he enjoys travelling, hiking and handball.

    Contact Details


    Room Number:  MB184C

    Tel +44(0)121 204 4870

    Education/Academic qualification

    1 Oct 200820 Apr 2012

    Award Date: 20 Apr 2012

    1 Oct 20071 Sep 2008

    Award Date: 30 Sep 2008

    15 Sep 200028 Feb 2007

    Award Date: 1 Feb 2007


    • TS Manufactures
    • Magnetic biomaterials
    • High-value bioproducts
    • QD Chemistry
    • Biotechnology
    • Biochemical Engineering
    • TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
    • Renewable Energies
    • Bioproducts
    • L Education (General)
    • Research-Informed teaching
    • Q Science (General)
    • Applied Microbiology
    • Biotechnological Products
    • TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
    • Bioprocess Engineering
    • Fermentation Technoogy


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