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, co-funded by Newcastle University. 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.

Caroline is currently module leader for 'Microbial Diversity and Environmental Microbiology'.

Summary of Research Interests

Caroline’s expertise and interests include application of microbial ecology theory to a range of diverse environments. Specialising in anaerobic environments, Caroline uses a range of sequencing applications to identify changes in microbial community composition and activity. This information, coupled with studying changes in environmental parameters, gas production and other biotic factors, allows understanding of the impact changing microbial communities have on their environments and vice versa.

Caroline collaborates actively with academics nationally and internationally, as well as local industrial partners. Caroline has published in peer reviewed journals of international quality and is an active member of the Microbiology Society.

Research Projects & External Funding

Caroline works on a range of projects studying microbial communities and their impacts on the environment. Mostly this is within an environmental microbiology but also includes studies in microbiome. Current active projects include:

1. Optimisation of Anaerobic Digestion

Caroline collaborates with local industrial partners to investigate microbial processes involved in effective anaerobic digestion processes. This includes identifying potential feedstocks for small scale production and preserving and enhancing complex communities within larger scale established digesters.

2. Microbiomes, the impact of probiotics and fluoride 

Caroline is involved in a range of microbiome-based studies including: the impacts of probiotics on health indicators within the preterm infant gut, influence of microbes within chorioamnionitits and the potential role of fluoride in shaping the oral and gut microbiome in vulnerable groups.

3. Microbiology associated with preservation of cultural heritage and the impacts of climate change.

Caroline is collaborating with colleagues within the University, nationally and internationally and working specifically with sites of archaeological interest such as Vindolanda and Magna off Hadrian's Wall. We are specifically interested in firstly understanding preservation and degradation dynamics within complex archaeological sites. Using a range of microbial and chemical parameters we are also interested in monitoring changes at sites of interest to understand how changing climatic conditions can impact below and above ground artefacts and their preservation.

PhD and Research Opportunities

Caroline has successfully completed four PhD students and is currently supervising six ongoing projects (two as director of studies). She is always interested in new areas of study and PhD opportunities. Conversations are particularly welcomed around the projects listed in the 'research projects' section of this page.

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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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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