Dr Mike Morris

Business Development Manager

Aberystwyth University


A multidisciplinary scientist, and expert analytical chemist, with supplementary industrial experience ranging from medical sciences, agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, gas sensor technology, biodiversity, soil science and multivariate modelling to the biorefining of high sugar ryegrasses to fuel ethanol and higher value platform chemicals.


  • 2000 - Ph.D University of East London. Thesis title: ‘The use of phospholipid fatty acid profiles to determine the diversity of soil microbial communities on managed woodland stands'.
  • 1989 - M.Sc. Analytical Biochemistry, University of Dundee. Thesis title: ‘Identification of coagulase negative staphylococci isolated from CAPD patients by numerical analysis of whole cell fatty acid methyl ester profiles’.
  • 1984 - B.Sc.(Hons.) Medical Sciences (IIii), University of Bradford

Employment experience:

  • Medical bacteriology (pathology) – 4.5 years.
  • Analytical Chemistry – method development analyst in pharmaceutical development and formulation and agrochemical process and formulation development – 6.5 years.
  • Post-doctoral researcher – development of electronic nose sensor system for soil quality – 3 years.
  • Research scientist – analytical development and metabolomic modelling and analysis – 2.5 years.
  • Research scientist – development of high-sugar ryegrass biorefining – 6 years.

Research Interests

  • Since late 2006 I have worked on the bioconversion of high-sugar perennial rye-grasses (HSPRG) (Lolium perenne) developed through conventional breeding over a 30 year period by the grass breeders at IBERS (previously IGER).
  • From 2009 to 2012 I was the lead research scientist on the Grassohol project that examined the economic viability of a biorefinery based on an HSPRG feedstock. While this work was necessarily directed toward the production of ethanol for road fuel use I am particularly interested in developing a portfolio of added value products from this and other biomass feedstocks. These include novel polymerics, platform chemicals (including lactic & succinic acid), proteins, lipids, oils and waxes, and bioactive compounds.
  • I am Interested in developing scale up processes and procedures and the application of novel technologies to both primary feedstock processing and downstream extraction and clean-up procedures.
  • I am also interested in bioprospecting of new feedstocks for novel compounds and development in analytical and/or new high performance filtration technologies for this purpose.
  • Through my work on the biorefining of high sugar rye-grasses I am also very keen to promote the possibilities and benefits of this feedstock and the numerous potential value streams it is capable of delivering.
  • I am also keen to identify mechanisms by which we can add value to current process wastes to enable them to become new potential feedstocks.         

BEACON Activities

Throughout 2011 I was responsible for the design and acquisition of the BEACON pilot facility and the equipment it contains, most of which was based around the existing Grassohol process.

As one of two business development managers employed within BEACON I am responsible for the development of outreach activities aimed at satisfying the results and target outputs as defined by our funders the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO). This involves both the promotion of the activities of the project and identification and development of collaborative projects (associated with biorefining or allied processing technologies) with Welsh companies from a wide range of market sectors.  Interaction with companies outside Wales is also possible where there is a possibility of inward investment or if those companies are working with an existing Welsh company.

Future Plans

I am keen to help develop a wider network of businesses and researchers with complementary and synergistic activities that will help build the knowledge based bio-economy and make more use of all the biorenewable resources available. 

Recent Publications

  • Bryant, D.N., Morris, S.M., Leemans, D., Taylor, S., Carvel, J., Todd, R.W., Logan, D., Lee, M., Garcia, N., Ellis, A., Gallagher, J.A. (2011) Modelling real-time simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of lignocellulose and monitoring organic acid accumulation on-line using dielectric spectroscopy  (Bioresource Technology; 102(20):9675-82.
  • Morris S.M., Bryant D.N., Thomas D.S., Fish S. and Gallagher J.A. Grassohol - Conversion of high sugar grasses to alcohol based transport fuel. 33rd Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals (Seattle, USA,  May 2-5, 2011).
  • Bryant, D.N., Morris, S.M., Leemans, D., Fish, S., Taylor, S., Carvel, J., Garcia, N., Ellis, A., Gallagher, J.A. Application of dielectric annular spectroscopy for on-line monitoring of enzymatic hydrolysis of perennial rye-grass fibre. 33rd Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals (Seattle, USA,  May 2-5, 2011).
  • Gallagher, J.A., Turner, L.B., Farrar, K., Skot, L., Bryant, D.N., Timms-Taravella, E., Morris, S.M., Farrell, M., Thomas, A., Donnison, I.S. Improving water soluble sugar content in perennial rye-grass: Developing grasses for production of biofuels and bulk chemicals. 33rd Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals (Seattle, USA, May 2-5, 2011).
  • Martel, C.M., Parker, J.E., Jackson, C.J., Warrilow, A.G., Rolley, N., Greig, C., Morris, S.M., Donnison, I.S., Kelly, D.E., Kelly, S.L. (2011)  Expression of bacterial levanase in yeast enables simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of grass juice to bioethanol. Bioresource Technology, 102 (2):1503-8.
  • Martel, C.M., Warrilow, A.G., Jackson, C.J., Mullins, J.G., Togawa, R.C., Parker, J.E., Morris, S.M., Donnison, I.S., Kelly, D.E., Kelly, S.L. (2010) Expression, purification and use of the soluble domain of Lactobacillus paracasei beta-fructosidase to optimise production of bioethanol from grass fructans. Bioresource Technology, 101 (12), 395-402
  • Webb, K.J., Jensen, E.F., Heywood, S., Morris, S.M., Linton, P.E., Hooker, J.E. (2010) Gene expression and nitrogen loss in senescing root systems of red clover (Trifolium pratense) Journal of Agricultural Science 148, 579-591
  • Fraser, M. D., Theobald, V. J., Griffiths, J. B., Morris, S. M., Moorby, J. M. (2009). Comparative diet selection by cattle and sheep grazing two contrasting heathland communities.  Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 129 (1-3), 182-192
  • Morris, S.M., Jackson, C.J., Gallagher, J.A., Kelly, S.L., Donnison, I.S. (2008). High Sugar Perennial Rye Grass as a Bioethanol Feedstock. An Alternative Use for Forage Grasses. In: Proceedings of the 16th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, 2-6th June 2008, Valencia, Spain. ETA-Florence Renewable Energies, Florence, Italy, pp.60-66.
  • Parveen, I., Moorby, J. M., Hirst, W. M., Morris, S. M., Fraser, M. D. (2008). Profiling of plasma and faeces by FT-IR to differentiate between heathland plant diets offered to zero-grazed sheep. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 144 (1-2), 65-81
  • Fraser, M. D., Theobald, V. J., Morris, S. M., Moorby, J. M. (2008). Diet selection and herbage intake by cattle and sheep grazing two contrasting heathland communities. General meeting of the European Grassland Federation, "Biodiversity and animal feed - future challenges for grassland production", Uppsala, Sweden, 9-12 June, 2008