Personal profile

Personal profile

Professor in Food Safety

My work is driven by the major challenges facing our food production and public health. Solutions are in exploring the utility and function of microbes, how food is produced, and technological innovations.

Research interests

I am a molecular bacteriologist interested in how some microbes, e.g. foodborne pathogens or hazards such as AMR, are transmitted via environmental sources. The technical approaches are in molecular microbiology, genomics and microbiomes. I work with stakeholders in public health and the agri-food industry.

My roles are:

  • Lead the Safe & Improved Foods challenge-driven research centre
  • Lead research into the interactions between human pathogenic bacteria and food products, pre- and post-harvest, to reduce foodborne illness  
  • Manage Scottish Government strategic research between Scottish research providers
  • Supervision of staff, students and visitors; teaching and external examinations
  • Committee member for external organisations


PhD student (2021-2025) 'Exploring host-microbiota interactions for improved crop health and food safety', joint with University of Dundee

PhD student (2018-2022) 'Impact of ozone on viability of fooborne and food spoilage pathogens on fresh produce', joint with University of Oxford

PhD student (2017-2021) 'Modelling attachement of bacteria to developing roots', joint with University of Warwick and James Hutton Institute

PhD student (2017-2021) 'Benign enhancement of natural defences: BEYOND', joint with University of Sheffield and James Hutton Institute



  • 2020-2025: BBSRC BBR “The UK Crop Microbiome Cryobank”. Ryan, Holden (Co-I), Mauchline, Malone (£1.9M, 5 years)
  • 2021-2025: BBSRC "Sharing expertise to quantify and mitigate GHG in the agriculture and land use sector in Argentina and the UK" Holden, Rees, Shutter (£30K, 3 years)
  • 2021-2022: SFN+ "Genome-guided detection of non-O157 STEC". Holden, Winn, Dallman (£10K, 9 months)
  • 2021-2022: SFN+ "Circular urban vertical farming - Data, models and optimisation of waste flows". Ball, Holden, Jensen, Kanu, Xau (£10K, 9 months)

Previous (selected):

  • 2021: SEFARI Gateway "Scoping review for a Scottish AMR activity dashboard". Holden (£17K, 5 months)
  • 2018-2021: Innovate-UK “KTP: microbe management”. Holden, IGS Ltd. (£227K, 3 years)
  • 2021: Scottish Government "Scottish One Health AMR Register". Holden (£30K, 4 months)
  • 2016-2021: ERC “SENSOILS”. Dupuy, Holden (Co-I), et al. (€1.66M, 5 years)
  • 2019: NBIC “Listeria biofilms”. Holden, Anacail Ltd (£80K, 1 year)
  • 2019-2020: IBiolC “Antimicrobial coatings and matrices”. Love, Holdenet al (£101K, 1 year)
  • 2017-2018: Innovate-UK “In-pack ozone”. Holden, Anacail Ltd. (£38K, 1 year)
  • 2016-2018: RESAS Innovation fund “Biocontrol”. Holden, partners (FSS, SERL, Kettle) (£132K)
  • 2014-2016: FSA “Internalisation”. Holden (£350K)
  • 2013-2016: HDC “Plant defence elicitors”. Holden, et al (£300K)
  • 2012-2015: The Leverhulme Trust “Plant cell walls”. Holden (£230K)
  • 2011-2014: BBSRC “Surface factors colonise plants” Holden (£556K)
  • 2011-2011 & 2010-2012: HDC, elicitor grants Holden (£150K)

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Cold shock response of Salmonella typhimurium, University of Edinburgh


External positions

The James Hutton Institute


Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie


Open University Milton Keynes


Centre for Infectious Diseases, School of Biomedical Sciences, Edinburgh Medical School, The University of Edinburgh



  • QR180 Immunology
  • microbiology
  • microbiome
  • food safety
  • food quality
  • Crop/livestock systems
  • STEC
  • Salmonella
  • host interactions
  • sequencing
  • vertical farm
  • sustainability


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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