Alison Smith | AIChE

Alison Smith

University of Cambridge

Alison Smith is Professor of Plant Biochemistry and Head of Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge.  She received a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Bristol, and then an MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge. After a postdoctoral position she was appointed to the Faculty in Cambridge in 1984, and was promoted to Professor in 2007. Her research interests are focussed around the metabolism of plants, algae and bacteria, in particular of vitamins and cofactors, and more recently for compounds of commercial interest such as high-value compounds and biofuel precursors. Current projects include: taking a synthetic biology approach to develop microalgae as industrial biotechnology platforms; investigating the role of vitamins in the interaction of algae with other microbes in the environment; and the use of algal cultivation for production of biomass or waste remediation. She has interacted with industry throughout her career, from agrichemical to oil companies to small start-ups, seeking to promote ways in which her research could be of use to them, and was a founding member of the Algal Biotechnology Consortium in 2007. In 2016 she established the Algal Innovation Centre in Cambridge, a pilot-scale facility to allow testing of algal-based solutions under natural conditions.