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Personal profile

Academic Biography

Dr Orr studied a degree in Biotechnology at Northumbria University where she received first class honours and the Avecia prize for Biotechnology. Caroline then went on to gain a PhD in Molecular Biology from Northumbria University. This was co-funded by Northumbria and Newcastle Universities as well as the EU. Caroline’s PhD involved using molecular biology techniques to understand bacterial communities residing in agricultural soils and the impacts they may have on the nitrogen cycle. Caroline then completed postdoctoral positions at both Northumbria and Newcastle Universities before taking up a teaching position at Teesside in 2011.

At Teesside University Caroline teaches on a range of modules at extended, undergraduate and postgraduate level. She is module Leader for: Genetics and Molecular Biology, and Biologics and Biotechnology.

Summary of Research Interests

Alongside teaching Caroline is active in research and collaborates with Northumbria and Newcastle University as well as local industrial partners. Caroline has published in peer reviewed journals of international quality and is a member of the Society for General Microbiology.

Caroline’s expertise and interests include:

  • Studying function and activity of prokaryotic communities within a range of samples
  • Metagenomic/Deep DNA sequencing analysis of nucleic acids extracted from medical, agricultural and industrial environments
  • Biogeochemical cycles
  • Microbial Biodiversity
  • Bioprospecting of environments for microorganisms which could be relevance to industry
  • Application of Biochar
  • Gut microbiome studies
  • Microbiology associated with necrotising enterocolitis and preterm birth

Research Projects & External Funding

1. Microbiology associated with preterm birth

Caroline is director of studies to three PhD students involved in collaborative projects with Northumbria University and the Royal Victoria Infirmary Newcastle. These projects involve studying the microbial community residing in a range of samples trying to establish links to changing microbial profiles and: healthy individuals; those suffering from necerotising enterocolitis; and the impacts of chorioamnionitis.

2. Microbiology associated with preservation at archaeological sites.

Caroline is involved in a collaborative project with other colleagues at Teesside and the Vindolanda site in Northumberland. She is investigating how microbiological changes can impact on preservation of artefacts within the site.

3. Biochar application to soil

Alongside other colleagues Caroline investigates how the application of biochar to soil can impact on the residual microbial community and ultimately on crop growth. Caroline and her Teesside colleague Komang Ralebitso-Senior recently co-edited a book discussing the impact of biochar addition to soil.

PhD and Research Opportunities

Caroline is currently director of studies to three PhD students and involved in other PhD supervisory teams. She is always interested in new areas of study and PhD opportunities.

External Roles and Professional Activities

Caroline has acted as an external reviewer for other academic institutions helping to approve programmes of study from levels three to seven. She has also acted as a peer reviewer for a range of journals and funding bodies.

Enterprise Interest and Activities

Caroline has worked with a range of industrial collaborators across various microbiology based projects. Examples include: identifying functional microbes within anaerobic digestion facilities; screening for efficiency of antimicrobial ability of chemicals; identifying microorganisms involved in bioplastic production; and producing valuable chemicals from waste streams.

Learning and Teaching Interests and Activities

Caroline is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Caroline acted as programme leader for Biological Sciences before being promoted to Principal Lecturer. During this time she was involved in promoting research informed teaching. She successfully gained funds to employ several 'students as researchers' a scheme which allows students to gain research skills alongside their studies.

Alongside other Teesside colleagues Caroline recently had a publication accepted within the Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal and participated in the RAISE conference to promote student engagement.


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