Sebastiana (Nella) Roccuzzo 

Nella profile pic

PhD student in Chemical and Biological Engineering

​BioHybrid Network Funded


Tel: +44 (0)114 22 28267

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
The University of Sheffield
Sir Robert Hadfield Building
Portobello Street
Sheffield, S1 3JD,
United Kingdom



A growing concern about fossil fuel energy reserves, political stability and environmental impacts has greatly contributed to developing alternative sources. Microalgae biofuels are considered bright options, since they can be grown on non-arable land and wastewater, faster than terrestrial plants and with higher oil yields. Although open raceway ponds are the most economically viable alternative for microalgae mass cultivation, they still present several limitations, zooplankton invasions above all. Also, harvesting requires high energy inputs for biomass separation. Despite the development of many novel approaches, to date no one stands out. In this context, ecological principles application is a promising direction in algal bio-fuel research, an area referred to as industrial ecology. Although grazing is a widespread problem in the algal biotechnology field, relatively little has been published on it. Open ponds never contains communities of microalgae alone, being invaded by herbivorous zooplanktons like Daphnia, which create a relatively simple but highly fluctuating food web in terms of biomass yield and composition. From a biofuel production angle, high amplitude predator–prey oscillations can lead to crashes, causing large and unpredictable reductions in biodiesel production.

My main research interests focus on food web manipulations and how these can be engineered to help ensure stable, high-yield biodiesel production from microalgae.

October 2014-ongoing. PhD Student in Chemical and Biological Engineering. Project "Synthetic Ecology: Engineering Natural Systems".

• 2013: MSc in Chemical Engineering for Industrial Sustainability (110 e Lode) equivalent to First Class Honours in the British grading system
• 2011: BSc in Industrial Chemistry (110 e Lode)


Dr Jagroop Pandhal 

Dr Andrew Beckerman


Roccuzzo, S., Beckerman, A.P. and Pandhal, J., 2016. The use of natural infochemicals for sustainable and efficient harvesting of the microalgae Scenedesmus spp. for biotechnology: insights from a meta-analysis. Biotechnology Letters, pp.1-8.