Dr. Andrea Giachino
School of Science, Engineering and Environment
Teaching Fellow in Biomedicine (Specializing in Microbiology)
I completed my PhD research in Newcastle University in the laboratory of Dr Kevin Waldron, studying how bacteria respond and adapt to copper toxicity. That is also when I started teaching in Higher Education, and I became an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2020.
Since graduating from my PhD in 2022, I have joined the University of Salford as a Teaching Fellow, and I am now a member of the Biomedicine team within the School of Science, Engineering, and the Environment. I take part in teaching across the whole range of our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and I am also active as a student tutor and supervisor for final year projects.
Prior to undertaking my PhD, I was granted a BSc Biomolecular Sciences and Technology by the University of Trento (Italy), which included a period of international study at the University of Lübeck (Germany) as well as an internship within the pharmaceutical company Novartis Sandoz.
And of course, I have done lots more than this! I’ve worked in an administrative office, and in a bookstore, and in multiple language schools. I was even a novelist for a while! Currently, I am also the proud manager of an online gaming community, which I keep developing in my free time.
Areas of research
Biological research: copper toxicity in bacteria, Pedagogical Research: provisions and perceptions of formative feedback; collaborative curriculum design; decolonization of curriculum
Areas of supervision
Bacterial antimicrobial resistance and multi-resistance (with a particular focus on copper)
I am part of the teaching team for our modules on Molecules to Microbes (Level 4), Biomedical Skills (also Level 4) and Microbial Communities and Interactions (Level 5). I am also a tutor for Level 4 Biomedical Sciences students, and for those engaging in our MSc programmes.
I am also a final year project supervisor for BSc projects, and I currently have 3 students working in my group for the 2022/2023 academic year.
Being active in both teaching and research, my interests are split into two general categories: biological research, and pedagogical (i.e. teaching) research. If you would like to work with me, please get in touch! I welcome enquiries from students (including prospective students) at all stages.
From a biological research perspective, my main subject area is microbiology. Specifically, I study the mechanisms by which bacteria respond and adapt to antimicrobial stress, including antibiotics and heavy metals. My favourite stressor is the metal copper, which is used by the mammalian (and human!) immune system to destroy invading bacteria. Successful bacterial pathogens have found ways to evade copper toxicity in the immune system, and copper-tolerance genes are important virulence determinants: the more copper-tolerant a pathogen becomes, the more likely it is to cause disease!
Unfortunately, the mechanisms by which copper kills bacteria (and conversely, how bacteria avoid being killed by copper) are not well understood. My research focuses on elucidating the connection between copper and bacteria to help address the following questions:
- How does copper kill bacteria? What metabolic processes does it target?
- How do bacteria react to copper toxicity? Are there any genes that are especially useful to adapt to copper stress?
- Why are certain bacteria more copper tolerant than others? Can we exploit this to devise new therapeutic approaches?
- How does copper interact with other antimicrobials? Can it be used alongside other antibacterial agents (e.g. antibiotics) to better treat disease? Or does copper tolerance make bacteria more resistant to other antimicrobials as well?
In addition to microbiology, I am also active in pedagogical research. My research in this area focuses on the development of innovative teaching practices, particularly:
- Co-creation of the curriculum: that means creating opportunities to design courses with students, not only for students.
Improving teaching feedback by more effective communication: how can one provide feedback (i.e. corrections) that are useful and meaningful for the person that receive them? How can feedback be given in a way that is perceived as being useful, as opposed to judgemental?
- Biosciences PhD, Newcastle University (2022)
- Biotechnology BSc, University of Trento (2016)
- Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) since 2020