Enabling Technologies, Data and Data Innovation
This recently established theme is cross-cutting and links together key research areas within IGFS as well as looping in other Schools and Global Research Institutes across the university, such as the Institute for Electronics, Communications and IT (ECIT).
Incorporating 16.5 FTE academic staff (2 ECRs), 21 PDRFs and 34 PhD students, theme members bring leading expertise in nucleic acid, protein and metabolome-based metaomic technologies, AI, machine learning and precision sensor technologies.
Substantial investment includes £2M H2020 and BBSRC funding to develop metabolomic technologies to study marine ecosystems through to human health. InvestNI (£2M) funding has also been secured to use (meta)genomic and (meta)proteomic technologies, coupled with computational tools, to prospect microbes for novel bioactives, alongside their characterisation and commercialisation.
Team members demonstrate strong connections with industry in the areas of proteomics and metabolomics eg. with Agilent Technologies, AB SciEx, Bruker and Waters Corporation, which has resulted in significant investment in equipment. This rich infrastructure has led to innovations in spectrometric fingerprinting and ambient mass spectrometry in the Food Integrity theme.
More recently, proteomic infrastructure and expertise have been used to support a multi-billion UK government initiative (Moonshot) to aid diagnosis and treatment of Covid-19.
The Food Futures project looks at how data and digtal transformation could revolutionise agriculture – enhancing productivity, animal welfare and environmental sustainability.
Collecting data from 36 partner farms, IGFS researchers are creating benchmarks across a numbers of indicators, eg. soil health, by applying AI and modelling techniques to raw data. Ultimately, the goal is to create a dashboard where farmers can, via an app, input information and receive back advice/directions about how best to manage their land, crops and animals. As the UK aspires to carbon-neutral farming by 2050, such research is crucial in helping farmers transform from traditional methods to a ‘sustainable intensification’ model.
Food Fortress is a food-authenticity research project which works closely with industry partners to identify contamination of food and animal feed by sophisticated laboratory analysis and futhermore, to develop pre-emptive methodologies to enhance food safety in global supply chains.
Already, a patented Food Fortress risk-management tool has been implemented by over 70 food and feed companies around the world to ensure greater food integrity. Data is central for this team as evidence-based food risks for herbs and spices, for example, are modelled by AI so that risk-mitigation tools can be developed along these data-driven insights.
Falling under the Queen’s-AFBI Strategic Alliance, the Optihouse project seeks to underpin the development of ‘smart farms’ using the latest agri-technology, from cow ‘pedometers’ (to track mobility, health, fitness etc) to IOT devices around the farm, eg. to measure chemical content of watercourses, slurry, etc.
By refining these technologies so that animals could be routinely and pre-emptively inspected with the aid of technology (eg. by camera), rather than waiting for symptoms of disease to appear, herd health could be maintained more efficiently, with less recourse to antibiotics. Collecting data in real time from agri-tech, to be used for predictive modelling and pattern-building, is another key component of this work.
Research Expertise in Enabling Technologies, Data and Data Innovation
- Professor Gary Hardiman
- Professor Chris Elliott
- Professor Chris Creevey
- Professor Ilias Kyriazakis
- Professor Zoltan Takats
- Professor Paulo Prodohl
- Professor Chris Allen
- Dr Simon Cameron
- Dr Julia Sigwart
- Dr Ben Collins
- Dr Mike Scantlebury
- Dr Bobby Graham
- Dr Cuong Cao
- Dr Caroline Meharg
- Dr Keith Farnsworth
- Dr Edel Hyland
- Dr Jonathan Houghton
- Dr Neil Reid
- Dr Julianne Megaw
- Dr Sarah Helyar
- Dr Deepak Kumaresan
- Dr Paul Caplat