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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Scholarly biography

Dr Jonathan Caplin (Jon) is a Principal Lecturer in Environmental Microbiology within the School of Environment and Technology, and a key member of the Environment and Public Health Research Group (EPHREG). Jon has over 30 years’ experience in clinical laboratory microbiology and public health in the NHS, former PHLS and a health authority, and for the past 18 years, in environmental microbiology. He has a keen interest in the spread and survival of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the environment and has also worked on diverse issues such as the use of bacteria in environmental remediation, bacteria as agents of accelerated corrosion of steel, the antimicrobial properties of essential oils, photoactivated disinfection, and the use of bacteriophages as indicators of faecal contamination. He has received funding over the past few years from university research schemes, the EU (FP5, FP6, FP7- IAPP), and consultancies from Unilever, Denfotex and a major international steel company.

Since 2010 he has assisted in the design, preparation and delivery of research grants to the value of over £411,000 and has been the lead on a large EU project on the uses and implementation of bacteriophages in medical and environmental diagnostics.

Jon is an external peer reviewer for a number of leading journals in his field and has acted as a final reviewer for the NERC Environmental Microbiology and Human Health Call moderation panel 2014.

Jon has also been nominated for a UoB Student Union Teaching Excellence Award in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

Approach to teaching

 My teaching is informed by my research and background in microbiology and public health. Undergraduate modules taught include ‘An Introduction to Environmental Hazards’, ‘Introduction to Fieldwork’, ‘Skills for Research and Careers’, ‘Environmental Microbiology’, ‘Water and Health’, ‘Water in the Environment’, ‘Global Environmental Issues and Mangement’, ‘Case Studies in Environmental Pollution’, and ‘Medical Geography’.

 Field and laboratory work are important components in degree level study in the sciences, and some of the modules are fundamental in delivering those skills. I run the fieldcourse in Greece where first year students gain skills in observation, measurement, recording and analysis of data in the areas of physical, human and environmental geography. Students taking these modules come from a variety of backgrounds and interests such as geography, geology, biology, chemistry, environmental science, and civil engineering, and it is great to see students from different disciplines work together to gain the intellectual and practical skills required when they enter the job market after their time studying at Brighton.

 At the Masters level I teach ‘Water Resources Management’ which covers water resource quantity, quality and management, hydrology, microbiology, aquatic ecology and pollution impacts.

I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate level dissertations, and MPhil/PhD theses.


Research interests

 My prior background in clinical microbiology diagnostics introduced me to the then emerging problem of antibiotic resistance, and I have pursued this area of research since joining the university in 1998.

 However, I have always felt that bacteria get a ‘bad press’ due to their association with disease and illness (and resistance) so I aim to explore their positive traits in terms of bioremediation, food production and the general protection afforded to us by our natural ‘microbiota’.

 Recently I have been involved in novel areas of microbial research, such as photoactivated disinfection, bioremediation using bacterial-cryogels, and in particular, the role of bacteria involved in the sulphur cycle and their contribution to microbial induced corrosion. Nevertheless, the transmission and survival of antibiotic-resistant bacteria within the environment and animal populations remains my major interest.

 Research activity

 Current research projects:

  • Cryo bacteria reactor
  • Metagenomics and physicochemistry of microbiologically influenced corrosion (MAPOMIC).
  • Remediation of phenol pollution of water using bacterial – cryogels.
  • Persistence of virulent, multi-antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli O157 within marine and freshwater biofilms and agricultural animal populations in Southeast England over a ten year period.

 Previous research projects (2010 onwards):

  •  Plasmid mediated quinolone-resistance in Enterobacteriaceae isolated from humans, farm animals and wastewater.
  • Design of Novel Portable-Sensors Based on Suspension Arrays Composed of Monoclonal Antibody and Bacteriophage Carrying Magnetically Loaded Nanoparticles and Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (NanobacteriophageSERS)
  • Persistence of faecal indicator bacteria in aquatic sediments.
  • Complete nucleotide sequencing and genome annotation of human gut specific bacteriophage infecting Bacteriodes sp. GB124: Application to improved faecal source tracking techniques and understanding of human gut microbiota.

Research Centres and Groups:


PhD students

  1. Areej Al-Jwaid (2014 to 2018) - Bioremediation of toxic aromatic compounds in waste waters, using polymer-supported bacteria.
  2. Bastian Schnabel (2013 to 2018) - Safe water for low-income communities: Assessment, adaptation, and development of low-cost diagnostic methods.
  3. Richard Brennan (2013 to date) - Microbially induced accelerated low water corrosion of steel pilings.
  4. Lakshmi Yaliwal (2011-2014)   - The Enterococcal Surface Protein (esp) gene as a tool for Microbial Source Tracking.



 Sea Change Sussex (2015)

 • Site investigation – Analysis of water from suspected spring below reservoir at development site, Bexhill, East Sussex.

 Benchmark Oils/MRSA Ltd (2006, 2011)

 • Testing of essential oils for antibacterial activity

 • Antimicrobial Effects of Individual and Blends of Essential Oils

 • Evaluation of two allicin-based products: Allimed™ Liquid and Allimed™ Cream, supplemented with essential oil blend ‘B’

 Unilever plc (2010)

 • A Review of the Safety of Bacteriophages and Bacteriophage-derived Components or Use in Consumer Products.

 Denfotex Ltd (2008, 2009, 2011)

 • The Effect of Photo Activated Disinfection (PAD) on Oral Bacteria

 • The Effect of Photo-Activated Disinfection (PAD) on Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Trichophyton rubrum Spores.

 • A comparison of FotosanTM and PAD PlusTM against Streptococcus mutans using different formulations of tolonium chloride.

 • Photoactivated Disinfection of Streptococcus mutans and spores of Trichophyton rubrum - a comparison of LEDMaxTM, FotoSanTM and PADPlusTM Systems.



Course Leader MSc Water & Environmental Management (2018 on)

Course Leader BSc (Hons) Geography (2012 to 2018)

Course Leader BSc (Hons) Environmental Hazards (2009-2012)

Chair of the SET Health and Safety Committee (2015 to date)


SET Health and Safety (Biosafety) rep. (2012-15)


SET Examinations Officer (2009-14)


Reviewer on the NERC Environmental Microbiology and Human Health Call - Full Bids Panel (2014)


Member of the Society for Applied Microbiology, the Infectious Disease Research Network, the Institute of Biomedical Science.


External reviewer for: Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Journal of Applied Microbiology, Letters in Applied Microbiology, Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, PLOS One, Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, Water Research, Journal of Water and Health, International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics




EU FP7 IAPP Marie-Curie Award Fellowship (2011-2015)

University of Brighton Student Union Awards for Excellence - Innovative Teaching Award category nominee (2015)

University of Brighton Student Union Awards for Excellence – Inspirational Teaching Award nominee (2014)

University of Brighton Student Union Awards for Excellence - Achievement Award nominee (2013)

University of Brighton Student Union Awards for Excellence - Achievement Award –‘The tutor who has helped me achieve more than I ever thought possible’ category (2011).



Personal Biography


I first became interested in the microbial world as a child when I was given a microscope and a set of prepared slides by an uncle. He told me to look at water from the fish pond, and mould from bread - I was hooked! Although I had initially wanted to study medicine I opted to read microbiology as that was ‘medical’ enough and I thought more interesting overall.


After graduating from Chelsea College London (now part of King’s College) in 1982, I trained as a medical laboratory scientist, specialising in clinical microbiology, working in pathology labs in London and in Brighton. I then moved to the environmental and public health department at the former Brighton Borough Council, and then the Brighton and Hove Unitary Authority.


It was here that I made professional contact with Prof Huw Taylor at the University of Brighton, when we collaborated on an EU funded project on bathing water quality. Following this successful project, I was invited in 1998 to apply for the post of Research Assistant on an EU funded project on the provenance of antibiotic resistant bacteria on farms (Enterococci ’98). During this period I conducted research leading to a PhD in Environmental Microbiology, and had the pleasure of working with colleagues from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, the Danish Veterinary Institute, and the universities of Madrid and Barcelona.


Following completion of my doctorate in 2005 I was offered a lectureship in the School of the Environment at Brighton, where I continue to research and teach. I feel fortunate that my background and interests have enabled me to pursue a number of different lines of microbiological research, although my main interest remains the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment.







Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Jon Caplin is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Bacteriophages Medicine & Life Sciences
Enterococcus Agriculture & Biology
Silk Medicine & Life Sciences
vancomycin Agriculture & Biology
Anti-Bacterial Agents Medicine & Life Sciences
bioreactor Earth & Environmental Sciences
sponge Earth & Environmental Sciences
bioremediation Earth & Environmental Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2000 2019

A cryogel-based bioreactor for water treatment applications

Berillo, D. A., Caplin, J. L., Cundy, A. B. & Savina, I. N., 30 Jan 2019, In : Water Research. 153, p. 324-334 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Water treatment
water treatment

Anti‐biofilm potential of purified environmental bacteriophage preparations against early stage Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms

Issa, R., Chanishvili, N., Caplin, J., Kakabadze, E., Bakuradze, N., Makalatia, K. & Cooper, I., 2 Mar 2019, In : Journal of Applied Microbiology. 126, 6, p. 1657-1667 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

One-step formation of three-dimensional macroporous bacterial sponges as a novel approach for the preparation of bioreactors for bioremediation and green treatment of water

K. Al-Jwaid, A., Berillo, D., Savina, I., Andrew, C. & Caplin, J., 3 Sep 2018, In : RSC Advances. 8, 54, p. 30813-30824 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Environmental Biodegradation
Water Purification

Silk Route to the Acceptance and Re-Implementation of Bacteriophage Therapy—Part II

Sybesma, W., Rohde, C., Bardy, P., Pirnay, J-P., Cooper, I., Caplin, J., Chanishvili, N., Coffey, A., De Vos, D., Scholz, A. H., McCallin, S., Püschner, H. M., Pantucek, R., Aminov, R., Doškař, J. & Kurtböke, D. İ., 23 Apr 2018, In : Antibiotics. 7, 35, p. 1-23 23 p., 7020035.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Anti-Bacterial Agents
Bacterial Infections
Randomized Controlled Trials

Application of Bacteriophages

Aminov, R., Caplin, J., Nino, C., Coffey, A., Cooper, I., De Vos, D., Doskar, J., Friman, V-P., Kurtboke, I. & Pantucek, R., 10 May 2017, In : Microbiology Australia. 38, 2, p. 63-66 4 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Anti-Bacterial Agents

Activities 2019 2019

  • 1 Publication Peer-review

Journal of Applied Microbiology (Journal)

Rahaf Issa (Reviewer), Nina Chanishvili (Reviewer), Jon Caplin (Reviewer), E Kakabadze (Reviewer), N Bakuradze (Reviewer), K Makalatia (Reviewer), Ian Cooper (Reviewer)
2 Mar 2019

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPublication Peer-review