Facilities (including ASSET lab)
IGFS recently completed its move into a purpose-built, new £40million building (above), which it shares with the School of Biological Sciences.
The new site will be a key driver for the sustained development of the agrifood and life-sciences sectors in Northern Ireland and boasts a superb teaching and research environment for 750 students and 170 staff across areas such as agriculture, food science, food safety, food security, disease/infection biology, diagnostics, waste management, ecosystems and the environment.
It also contains the ASSET Technology Centre - a leading analytical chemistry and mass spectrometry research hub, recently recognised as a 'Centre of Expertise' by the Food Authenticity Network, a Department of the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) initiative.
ASSET Technology Centre
ASSET Technology Centre - at the heart of IGFS
The ASSET ('Assured, Safe and Traceable') centre is a lynchpin of IGFS. It was recently (July 2020) listed as a 'Centre of Expertise' by the Food Authenticity Network - a Department of the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) initiative.
ASSET provides leading platforms to facilitate increasingly rapid identification of feed and food contamination and adulteration. The equipment is among the most specialist in a UK university and was possible due to the generous support of Innovate UK (via CIEL Livestock) and European Regional Development Fund (Invest NI) as well as some instrument manufacturers.
The mass spectrometry element features a range of hyphenated MS instruments. Various LC-MS/MS and GC-MS are available for tailored measurements of predetermined analytes such as toxins, pesticides or targeted metabolomic, as well as high resolution accurate mass instruments (QTof) coupled to UPLC for non-targeted metabolomic analysis or equipped with an Ambient ionisation source such as REIMS, DESI or DART.
Equipment includes: MASS SPECTOMETRY - REIMS research system, incorporating ‘iKnife’, DART (Direct Analysis in Real Time) ionisation couple to single quadrupole detector, UPLC-QTof with associated processing software workflow suite; SPECTROSCOPY INSTRUMENTATION - FTIR (Fourier Transform Infra-red); NIR (Near Infrared) in benchtop and portable format; Raman.
Also, ASSET is now at the forefront of handheld spectroscopy applications which can be used anywhere in complex supply chains. In October 2019, ASSET was awarded ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation (lab UKAS accreditation number 10515) for herbs and spice authenticity testing, an industry 'gold standard' that is rare for a university lab.
The agrifood industry is the biggest employer in the Northern Ireland manufacturing sector, providing jobs for over 100,000 people and contributing more than £5.5 billion pa to the local economy. Northern Irish agrifood has a reputation for being high-quality, due to a strong agricultural tradition and relatively short supply chains.
The future prosperity of Northern Ireland therefore relies heavily on the agrifood sector – this has become even more apparent in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis and Brexit, both of which are having seismic effects on food supply, food integrity and food fraud.
The ability of IGFS and the School of Biological Sciences to support the agrifood industry – not only providing highly educated graduate, post-graduate and post-doctoral professionals, but world-leading research and lab facilities to carry out food authenticity testing and thereby promote food security – has never been more important.
IGFS Laboratory Capabilities
Other IGFS Capabilities
The Centre for Plasma in Agri-Food (AgriPlas) is a dedicated research facility within IGFS to investigate a new technology with potential to reduce chemicals and antibiotics in the food chain.
AgriPlas is the first of its kind in Europe. Its focus is not only be pioneering research into cold plasma – ionised gases or liquids that have antimicrobial properties – but also the potential commercial applications.
AgriPlas will work closely with the Northern Ireland, UK and European agri-food industry on a number of projects to explore the use of plasma technology in, for example, veterinary treatments, prolonging shelf life of agri-food products and farm biosecurity.
The initiative has been made possible through generous investment from the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), one of the UK’s four Agri-Tech Centres, with £350,000 investment from Innovate UK and a co-investment by Queen’s University.
Queen's Marine Lab hosts an interdisciplinary team of biologists, modellers and engineers, pursuing applied research in marine resources and blue-sky research in organismal biology including anatomy, phulogenetics and ecosystem dynamics. IT serves IGFS, the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Planning Architecture and Civil Engineering.
This research facility comprises the latest behavioural analysis software, together with a range of behavioural recording equipment and is used in research into commercially farmed animals' environmental and welfare wellbeing.
Based within NHS premises with services to support Nutrition as well as a range of other disciplines, the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility enables broader clinical research on societal health, wellbeing and ageing.
The Core Technology Units are a suite of cutting-edge facilities housed by the Faculty of Medicine, Health & Life Sciences and available to scientists from across the University for highly specialised research. The suite comprises: Advanced Informatics; Mass Spectrometry; Genomics; Advanced Imaging; and Biological Services. Full details on the CTUs, including Contact Details, can be found here
Check out our fantastic new building, providing a world-class research and teaching environment for IGFS and the School of Biological Sciences, including state-of-the-art laboratory facilities such as the ASSET Technology Centre