Robert Barnes

CERC Research Associate

Geomicrobiology Group

Contact information


Originally from the UK, Robert completed his PhD at the University of Oxford, Department of Earth Sciences, in 2009. This was a multidisciplinary project concerned with investigating the most appropriate combination of optimised bimetallic nanoparticles and indigenous dechlorinating bacteria for the remediation of chloroethene contaminated sites. Flowing directly from his PhD, in 2009 Robert secured a Postdoctoral Research Assistant position at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, where his work centred on investigating the impact of different nanomaterials on natural microbial communities and representative bacterial strains. In 2010 he was recruited as a Research Fellow at the Advanced Environmental Biotechnology Centre at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This project involved the development of a nitric oxide donor compound treatment for the dispersal of bacterial biofilms from water treatment membranes and understanding the roles of specific exopolysaccharides in reverse osmosis membrane biofouling and NO induced dispersal. In 2014 Robert joined the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of New South Wales, Australia. During this role he carried out academic research on the impact of iron nanoparticles on a chloroethane degrading bacterial community and enriched a crude oil degrading bacterial consortium for an industrial partner as part of a Researchers in Business grant. He also acted as Chief Scientist for a University spin-off bioremediation company, allowing him to gain important industry experience. In his position as a CERC Research Associate at the University of Calgary, Robert is working on the development of nanoparticle-biological hybrid systems for novel applications in medicine and energy.


Selected Publications

  • Stephen P. Voegtlin, Robert J. Barnes, Casey R. J. Hubert, Stephen R. Larter and Steven L. Bryant. 2022. Formation of biologically influenced palladium microstructures by Desulfovibrio desulfuricans and Desulfovibrio ferrophilus IS5. New Biotechnology 72, 128-138.

  • Paula Berton, Robert J. Barnes, Ali Telmadarreie, Steven L. Bryant. 2022. A course-based research experience to introduce engineering students to research aimed at innovation in early years. Proceedings of the Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA).

  • Robert J. Barnes, Stephen P. Voegtlin, Shiv R. Naik, Renessa Gomes, Casey R.J. Hubert, Stephen R. Larter, Steven L. Bryant. 2022. Inhibition of sulfate reduction and cell division by Desulfovibrio desulfuricans coated in palladium metal. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 88 (12): e00580-22.

  • Robert J. Barnes, Stephen P. Voegtlin, Casey R. J. Hubert, Stephen R. Larter and Steven L. Bryant. 2022. The Critical Role of Environmental Synergies in the Creation of Bionanohybrid Microbes. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 88 (7): e02321-21.

  • Joanna C. Koenig, Hardiljeet K. Boparai, Matthew J. Lee, Dennis M. O’Carroll, Robert J. Barnes, Michael J. Manefield. 2016. Particles and enzymes: Combining nanoscale zero valent iron and organochlorine respiring bacteria for the detoxification of chloroethane mixtures. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 308: 106-112.

  • Robert J. Barnes, Ratnaharika R. Bandi, Felicia Chua, Low Jiun Hui, Theingi Aung, Chong Tzyy Haur, Anthony G. Fane, Staffan Kjelleberg and Scott A. Rice. 2015. Nitric Oxide treatment for the control of reverse osmosis membrane biofouling. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81 (7): 2515-24.

  • Robert J. Barnes, Ratnaharika R. Bandi, Felicia Chua, Jiun Hui Low, Theingi Aung, Anthony G. Fane, Staffan Kjelleberg and Scott A. Rice. 2014. The roles of Pseudomonas aeruginosa extracellular polysaccharides in biofouling of reverse osmosis membranes and nitric oxide induced dispersal. Journal of Membrane Science, 466: 161-172.

  • Robert J. Barnes, Rodrigo Molina, Jianbin Xu, Peter J. Dobson, Ian P. Thompson. 2013. Comparison of TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticles for photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue and the correlated inactivation of gram positive and gram negative bacteria. Journal of Nanoparticle Research, 15 (2): 1432.

  • Robert J. Barnes, Christopher J. van der Gast, Olga Riba, Laura E. Lehtovirta, James I. Prosser, Peter J. Dobson and Ian P. Thompson. 2010. The impact of zero-valent iron nanoparticles on a river water bacterial community. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 184 (1-3), 73-80.

  • Robert J. Barnes, Olga Riba, Murray N. Gardner, Andrew C. Singer, Simon A. Jackman and Ian P. Thompson. 2010. Inhibition of biological TCE and sulphate reduction in the presence of iron nanoparticles. Chemosphere, 80 (5): 554-562.

  • Robert J. Barnes, Olga Riba, Thomas B. Scott, Murray N. Gardner, Simon A. Jackman and Ian P. Thompson. 2010. Optimization of nano-scale iron/nickel particles for the reduction of high concentration chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbon solutions. Chemosphere, 79 (4): 448-454.