Dr Helen Onyeaka PhD, MSc, BSc

Dr Helen Onyeaka

School of Chemical Engineering
Teaching Fellow

Contact details

Address
Department of Chemical Engineering
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Helen Onyeaka is an industrial microbiologist with over 25 years of experience. Her career in microbiology to date has been varied with experience gained in industry as well as academia (both teaching and research).

Dr Onyeaka lectures and leads modules on various postgraduate and undergraduate courses in Food Microbiology, Food Safety and Chemical Engineering. She supervises PhD and MSc research projects related to industrial microbiology. She also plans and delivers training for Continuous Professional Development (CPD), including courses for Food Safety Inspection Officers, the food industry and international trainees from the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.

Dr Onyeaka’s PhD researched the impact on individual microbial cells due to a changing microenvironment with regard to their physiology and metabolic pathway and suggested how this knowledge could be used to predict as well as optimise future process performances in the industry. She received the Bridon postgraduate and IChemE Biochemical Engineering award for this doctorate thesis.

Helen is married and a mother of three and enjoys travelling, reading and charity work.

Qualifications

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, 2017
  • Prince 2 - Project Management, 2012
  • PGCE in Biology from Warwick University, 2008
  • PhD in Biochemical Engineering from the University of Birmingham, 2004
  • MSc in Biochemical Sciences, Wolverhampton University, 1998
  • BSc in Industrial Microbiology, Federal University of Technology Owerri, 1991

Dr Onyeaka is also a member of the following institutions:

  • The Institute of Biomedical Science
  • Society for General Microbiology
  • Biochemical Engineering Subject Group (IChemE)
  • Institute of Biology
  • Society of Chemical Industries
  • The European Federation of Biotechnology, Society for Applied Microbiology 

Biography

Dr Helen Onyeaka graduated with a BSc in Industrial Microbiology from the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Nigeria in 1991. She then furthered her studies in Wolverhampton University obtaining an MSc in Biomedical Sciences in 1998 to then later obtain her PhD in Biochemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham in 2004. In the meantime, she worked as a research assistant from 1998 to 2000 and October 2003 to January 2005. She later assumed a position of research fellow in October 2004 at the University of Birmingham. Since 2013, she is a full time teaching fellow in the Chemical Engineering Department.

Helen was awarded the Bridon postgraduate award for the best PhD project in 2003 as well as a prize at the IChemE Biochemical Engineering Subject Group Postgraduate Research Event (2002) for the best poster presentation. She also worked and was acknowledged in the production of an over-the-counter male fertility kit now marketed as "Fertell". (Development of a novel home sperm kit - Björndahl et al. Human reproduction (2005) Vol. 21 (1): 145).

She also received an award from the Royal Academy of Engineering for the 11th European Congress on Biotechnology in Basel, Switzerland in 2003, and raised funds from different societies and companies for payment and travel expenses to different conferences. For the past three years she has been involved in the production of a training manual as well the training and teaching of adults in the voluntary sector.

Currently a teaching Fellow in Food Safety at the University of Birmingham, she delivers lectures on a variety of microbiology topics and laboratory classes to undergraduates and postgraduates in the Food Safety, Hygiene and Management Masters/MSc/PG Diploma/PG Certificate as well as to MSc Environmental Health and MSc in Public and Environmental Health Sciences.

Teaching

  • Delivers lectures on a variety of microbiology topics and laboratory classes to undergraduates and postgraduates in the Food Safety, Hygiene and Management Masters/MSc/PG Diploma/PG Certificate
  • Lectures on a variety of microbiology topics and laboratory classes to postgraduates MSc Environmental Health and MSc in Public and Environmental Health Sciences
  • Teaches first year Chemical Engineering students 
  • Delivers lectures and produces basic microbiology training-materials for the bi-annual Food Hygiene Premises Inspection course at the Saudi Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA) and SFDA Food Microbiology and Food Manufacturing and Chinese Summer school
  • Oversees specific modules within the above courses
  • Organises CPD training on current food related issues
  • Responsible for dissertation supervision on undergraduate and MSc programmes

Research

Research Themes

  • Microbial responses to environmental stress
  • Use of natural preservatives in food processing
  • Detection of non-recombinant protein using flow cytometry
  • Food fermentation processing
  • Flow cytometry, understanding the interaction of the cell with the process engineering environment

Other activities

Poster/Oral Presentation

  • 11th European Congress on Biotechnology (ECB11), held at the Convention Centre in Basel Switzerland from 24-29 August 2003
  • The Spring Colloquium, School of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham, UK, 2003
  • Young Engineers Reception, House of Commons, Westminster, London, UK, December 2002
  • The Biochemical Engineering Subject Group (IChemE) meeting, School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Cambridge, UK, December 2002
  • Presented at The University of Birmingham School seminar November, 2002
  • Society for General Microbiology meeting, Loughborough, UK, September, 2002
  • 2nd international conference on “Analysis of microbial cells at the single cell level”, Vejle, Denmark, June, 2002

Academic Awards and Achievements

  • Worked and acknowledged in the production of “over the counter” male fertility kit now marketed as "Fertell". (Development of a novel home sperm kit - Björndahl et al. Human reproduction (2005) Vol. 21 (1): 145)
  • Won the Bridon postgraduate award for the best PhD project in 2003
  • Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering for the 11th European Congress on Biotechnology, Basel, Switzerland, 2003
  • Won a prize at the IChemE Biochemical Engineering Subject Group Postgraduate Research Event (2002) for the best poster presentation
  • Performed consultancy work for 3M Science and pH7 and is now a speaker for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)
  • Raised funds from different societies and companies for payment and travel expenses to different conferences. For the past three years, she has been involved in the production of a training manual and also in the training and teaching of adults in the voluntary sector.
  • In collaboration with her local church, Dr Onyeaka supports various mental health organisations across Birmingham. Her community also supports those in need with material or financial donations around Birmingham and worldwide. 

Publications

  • Putu Virgina Partha Devanthia, Robert Linforthb, Helen Onyeaka, Konstantinos Gkatzionisa (2017) Effects of co-inoculation and sequential inoculation of Tetragenococcus halophilus and Zygosaccharomyces rouxii on soy sauce fermentation
  • F. Astuti, H. Onyeaka (2017) The Effect of Cinnamaldehyde on Escherichia coli Survival during Low Temperature Long Time Cooking
  • Christopher J. Hewitt, Helen Onyeaka, Gareth Lewis, Ian W. Taylor, Alvin W. Nienow (2007) A comparison of high cell density fed-batch fermentations involving both induced and non-induced recombinant Escherichia coli under well-mixed small-scale and simulated poorly-mixed large-scale conditions Biotechnology and Bioengineering Vol.96(3):495-505)
  • H Onyeaka, CJ Hewitt, AW Nienow. 2004. Further Studies Related to the Scale-up of High Cell Density Recombinant E.coli Fed-Batch Fermentations (In 5th European Symposium on Biochemical Engineering .Science, Stuttgart, Germany Sept 2004, Stuttgart, Germany, Inst. Biochem. Eng, 122).Helen Onyeaka, Alvin W. Nienow and Christopher J. Hewitt (2003) Studies related to the scale-up of high cell density E. coli fed-batch fermentations using multi-parameter flow cytometry: effect of a changing micro-environment with respect to pH. Biotechnology Bioengineering. Vol.  84(4): 474-84
  • Ivic A, Onyeaka H, Girling A, Brewis A, Ola B, Hammadieh N, Papaioannou S, Barratt CL.(2002) Critical evaluation of methylcellulose as an alternative medium in sperm migration tests. Human Reproduction Vol. 17 pp 143- 149
  • Helen Onyeaka Single cell microbial analysis (2003). Biomedical Scientist VOL 47; PART 1, pages 29-30

  • Helen Onyeaka AJ Banks Bursary report on 11th European congress on Biotechnology (2003) Society of Chemical Industry