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People

The Analytical Sciences Unit comprises a core staff complement and PhD students, as well as a varying number of short-term students and visiting workers.

Kate Kemsley (Head of Group)

KK_2015Kate Kemsley read Physics at Magdalen College, Oxford. After graduating, she worked for some years as a Patent Examiner at the European Patent Office before returning to the UK and to academia.

Her PhD and early career was in applied molecular spectroscopy (infrared, Raman) and the design of novel sensors, including a patented probe head for infrared sensing using attenuated total reflectance. Subsequently she began to focus on quantitation using spectral data, and the emerging discipline of chemometrics – a branch of statistics particularly useful for handling the large datasets produced by modern analytical techniques. Applications of these methods have included several important food authentication issues – detection of adulteration in edible oils; processed fruits; meat products; coffee.

The arrival of ‘omics technologies in recent years has opened up new opportunities for the chemometrics specialist.  Kate’s interests have expanded to include the application of multivariate statistics to many more high-dimensional data types.  These include a wide range of spectral data types, especially those used in connection with metabolomics (NMR, GC-, LC-MS) and electrophoresis image data. She also has a long-standing interest in electromyography and the processing of digital waveforms. Most recently, her research has concentrated on treatments of data collected using low-field NMR spectroscopy.

Kate is author or co-author of around 80 peer-reviewed articles, as well as numerous conference proceedings, posters, book chapters and a textbook. She is a Senior Lecturer (Hon.) in the School of Chemistry at the University of East Anglia.

Grants won: Kate has been Principal Investigator on grants awarded by many different funding bodies (see below), including BBSRC, UKRC, MAFF, DEFRA-LINK and InnovateUK (TSB). She also works with industry via confidential consultancies – currently these can be arranged through IFR Extra Ltd.

  • EU Framework 7 (2016 – 2018) Consumer and brand protection in complex foods from protein signatures using mass spectrometry
  • NRP Translational Fund (2015 – 2016) Development of prototype infrared sensors for predicting dormancy breaking in potato tubers
  • EPSRC Standard Grant (2015 – 2018) Collective of transform ensembles for time-series classification
  • Walsh Fellowship (2014 – 2018) Non-destructive assessment of quality in fresh produce
  • TSB-Spark (2013) Development of FTIR postharvest screening to discriminate between fresh and stored potatoes
  • Technology Strategy Board (2012 – 2015) Data processing methods for automated nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis
  • EU Marie Curie Studentship (2009 – 2010) High-throughput analysis of metabolic data in plant systems
  • BBSRC (2005 – 2008) Bioinformatics tools and systems development
  • DEFRA-LINK (2002 – 2006) Towards improved fermentation consistency using multivariate analysis of process parameters
  • UK Research Councils (2004 – 2005) NIR tomography for internal imaging of chemical composition – a feasibility study on plant tissues
  • Faraday Fast-track (2003) NIR tomography equipment grant
  • Industry confidential (2002 – 2003) Fruit quality measurement
  • Natural Resources Institute (2000 – 2001) Gas sensors for authenticating basmati rice
  • MAFF (1998) A critical study to develop sampling plans for mycotoxins in cereals and cereal-derived commodities
  • MAFF (1995 – 1998) Establishment of guidelines for the application of chemometric methods to food authenticity problems

Marianne Defernez (Senior Research Scientist)

Marianne Defernez obtained a science degree (chemistry, mathematics, physics, biology) from the University of Nantes, France in 1991. She then studied for an MsC in analytical chemistry in 1992, which she carried out at IFR. This was followed by a PhD on food authenticity using infrared spectroscopy and chemometric techniques (UEA, 1996). During her studies she became particularly interested in the use of multivariate methods to handle spectral data, and subsequently worked on several projects revolving around the use of infrared and NMR combined with multivariate data analysis techniques, for research on the composition of food and plant materials. This naturally led to her subsequent specialisation in multivariate statistics, particularly within the context of the emerging ‘metabolomics’ field, in ~2000. She has maintained this interest, but has also broadened her experience since then, both in terms of applications and types of data. She uses her knowledge of multivariate statistics, computing and programming skills (primarily Matlab and R) to deal more generally with the handling of complex data in multidisciplinary collaborative research projects. [View publications on Google Scholar]

Henri Tapp (Institute Statistician)

Henri Tapp read ‘Physics with Medical Physics’ at the University of Wales, Swansea, graduating in 1990. He received his Ph.D., ‘The determination of human body composition by electromagnetic techniques’, also from Swansea, in 1996. His early career was spent on various sensor modalities, particularly electrical tomography and infrared spectroscopy, from which stemmed an interest in multivariate modelling and chemometrics. A long-term Matlab user, he now provides data analysis support, while continuing to publish on the application and interpretation of multivariate methods. [View publications on Google Scholar]

Andrew Watson (Research Scientist)

Dr Andrew Watson has a background in physics and theoretical high-energy physics, and wide-ranging research interests including computation, modelling and image analysis. He joined the Institute of Food Research in 1996, to work on image processing and modelling in colloid science. More recently, he has worked on the analysis of mass spectrometry data of food allergenic proteins, with the goal of identifying digestion pathways and post-digestion peptides that retain immunological potential. In his current position in the Bioinformatics and Statistics team, he continues to focus on the bespoke analysis of mass spectrometry data, as well as offering theoretical and data analysis support more widely to IFR’s high-throughput ‘omics’ output.

Gwen Le Gall (Senior Research Scientist)


Gwen Le Gall 21.10.08I have 20 years of experience in the fields of metabolomics and lipidomics. I use Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Mass Spectrometry (MS) to analyse many kinds of sample.

My subjects of interest are diverse. I developed methods for authentication and quality assessment of fruit purees, orange juice, green tea, dry-cured ham, and red wine. I applied the same methods to assessment of genetically modified Arabidopsis and tomato and potato varieties in relation to substantial equivalence.

Since 2005, my interests have broadened to include nutritional and microbial metabolomics. I now have expertise in metabolomics and lipidomics applied to mammalian, bacterial and yeast extracts.

An introduction to metabolomics [pdf]

Mark Philo (Research Scientist)

I have 21 years experience in food science research.  I spent 12 years at the Central Science Laboratory analysing organic contaminants in foods from packaging migration such as phthalate esters and acrylamide.  I spent another 4 years at Cefas where I monitored the marine environments for organotins and brominated flame retardants.  I also developed methods for the analysis of PAH metabolites in crustacean urine and fish bile and the analysis of paralytic shellfish poisoning in shellfish. Since arriving at IFR, I am responsible for the mass spectrometry facilities in the metabolomics group.  I am involved in the team metabolomic projects, but also extend the use of the mass spectrometers to the proteomics and phytochemicals departments.

Alfonsina D'Amato (Senior Research Scientist)

I am a biological mass spectrometrist, with strong interest in Proteomics. I have more than 10 years of experience in this research area, as proved by my 37 peer reviewed research papers, 3 book chapters. I obtained unique results which have granted my high visibility in Proteomic and an h-index of 15 (Scopus, August 2016). I have the Italian Qualification of Associate Professor in Biochemistry and Clinical Biochemistry.
I demonstrated for the first time the powerful of proteome profiling in the analysis of food in the Chemical Safety (allergens and fining agents) and Integrity (related to raw ingredients) area, in collaboration with food manufacturing, and analytical sciences sector.
My actual Research interest is the understanding of the interaction between Microbiota and host gut barrier and the molecular mechanism involved in the maintenance of health and prevention of disease.

Contact: T: +44 (0)1603 255078
ResearchGate profile
LinkedIn profile

Kathryn Cross (Research Scientist)

Kathryn Cross read Biology at the University of Hull, graduating in 2001. She then spent 4 years at the Public Analysts laboratories in Norwich where she managed the water chemistry laboratory, testing both potable water for suitability for drinking and effluent water for consent to discharge. Kathryn started at IFR in 2006 as an Assistant Microscopist, gaining expertise in preparing and imaging samples for both light microscopy and electron microscopy. Since 2011, she has taken over the running of IFR’s Microscopy department, producing images for numerous journal papers and front covers.