Professors promoted for their world-leading expertise in plastic-digesting enzymes and forensic interviewing
Two professors have been promoted to join a small number of world-leading professors at the University in the 2021 Annual Academic Promotion round of professors and readers.
Professor John McGeehan and Professor Lorraine Hope were recognised for their globally influential excellence in research and innovation; developing enzymes to infinitely recycle some of our most commonly polluting plastics, and developing forensic interviewing tools and resources for the UK Government and international policing to support the effective and ethical interviewing of victims, witnesses and other cooperative interviewees, respectively.
Professor John McGeehan
Professor of Structural Biology
School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science and Health; Centre for Enzyme Innovation; Institute of Biomedical & Biomolecular Sciences
John initially joined the University of Portsmouth in 2000 when he worked on DNA-binding proteins, and re-joined in 2007 after an EMBL Fellowship in Grenoble, France. He was appointed Reader in 2012 and Professor in 2016, working on the structure of enzymes for biofuels and green chemicals.
In 2018, John co-led a trans-Atlantic team of scientists who re-engineered the PETase enzyme which can break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET) back into its original building blocks. PET is commonly found in single-use drinks bottles and is a growing issue in polyester clothing which is currently poorly recycled.
The research made headlines around the world and was ranked in the Altmetric Top 100 among the most influential globally in 2018, and again in their follow-up study in 2020, where they increased the speed of the enzyme even further. They were awarded the Times Higher STEM Project of the Year in 2019.
In 2019, the team was awarded £5.8 million from the Government’s Research England Expanding Excellence Fund for the University’s new Centre for Enzyme Innovation, where he is Director. John has given over 50 invited presentations since 2018 and led our membership to the largest US recycling consortium, BOTTLE, and new partnerships with major multinational companies. Read more of John's profile and an interview at BBC Earth.
Professor Lorraine Hope
Professor of Applied Cognitive Psychology
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science and Health; International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology, UK National Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST)
Lorraine joined the University in 2004 as a Lecturer and was appointed Professor in Applied Cognitive Psychology in 2014.
Over the past 17 years, her expertise and research in forensic interviewing and psychological science has resulted in the development of tools, research, evaluation and training for investigative interviewing and information elicitation in international policing, intelligence and security sectors, including for inter- and multi-national agencies.
In 2019, she won an international award for academic excellence. The International Investigation Interviewing Research Group (iIIRG) awarded her the Award for Academic Excellence in recognition of her outstanding achievements in the area of ethical investigative interviewing.
In 2020, the multi-institutional Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) was awarded £5.3m by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to examine security threats to the UK over the next three years. As part of this funding, Lorraine was awarded £386,000 to identify the best techniques for getting information from online sources, with a focus on building rapport and communication strategies.
She has published widely on memory and information elicitation topics and speaks regularly at academic and practitioner conferences. Read more of Lorraine’s profile.