Professor Nia White

Dean of Research and the Graduate School

School Graduate School

Department Central School

Contact info

+44 (0)1382 30 8254


I am Dean of Research and the pan-University Graduate School. I was previously Head of the School of Science, Engineering & Technology at Abertay University. As Dean of Research, my role within the University is to lead and support the development of focused collaborative research and interdisciplinary innovation for impact beyond academia (yielding economic, social and cultural benefits). My remit includes, the development of strategy, policy and practice; provision of quality researcher training and support; Research Degrees; development of research and knowledge exchange infrastructure and governance frameworks; leadership and management of REF; building critical mass and new research and knowledge exchange strengths across the University; as well as promoting strategic partnerships.

I graduated from University College Cardiff in 1987 (BSc Hons Microbiology) and the University of Wales College of Cardiff (PhD SERC/CASE ICI Biological Products) in 1992, with a thesis entitled the ‘Biotechnological implications of the ecology and developmental biology of selected higher fungi’. I have over 25 years of research experience in Microbiology and Mycology, particularly on Serpula lacrymans the dry rot fungus, aspects of the ecology and biology of other wood and soil fungi, and on modelling the growth and interactions of filamentous fungi.

I am particularly passionate about multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research, and was involved in the development of SIMBIOS at Abertay – an interdisciplinary research group with an interest in complex systems and the use of modelling methodologies, to gain a better understanding of these systems applied across a wide range of discipline areas (from epidemiology to soil microbiology and everything in between).

I am an advocate for EDI within academia and as Chair of the Athena SWAN Self Assessment Team I have led the University to two successful bronze award.

I am driven by curiosity and the joy of working collaboratively with creative people.

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I was previously the Programme Tutor for MSc Biotechnology and drove the development of MSc Medical Biotechnology, MSc Food Biotechnology and MProf Food & Drink Innovation within the School Science Engineering & Technology. My previous teaching expertise included Microbiology and Cell Biology, Techniques, Skills, and Experimental Biology, Biotechnology, Environmental Microbiology and Ecology, Biological Data Handling and Analysis, Forensic Microbiology, Serpula lacrymans and environmental control of building decay (invited external lecturer - University of Edinburgh, School of Architecture). As Head of the Graduate School my focus is now on Researcher Development and Research Degrees. 

I was the winner of the first Abertay University Student Led Teaching Award for Best Platform for Employability (2010).

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Most notable funding:
Leverhulme Research Studentship; Karl Meyer Foundation; Historic Scotland (PhD Research Studentship); EU; Carnegie Trust; SET market research; BBSRC Research Grant (2003) ‘Plant root and microbial influences on soil water relations and structural stability’; BBSRC Research Committee Enhanced Studentship (2003) ‘Biophysical fingerprinting of soil to forecast the impact of land management change’; SEPA, Catchment Ltd, and Angus Council.Joint studentship (co-applicant with Dr David Blackwood); Food & Drink Interface award with Macphie (Masters Studentship).

Knowledge Exchange

My research work related to the Environmental Control of Serpula lacrymans the Dry-Rot Fungus, has received considerable attention from architects as well as conservation groups and specialists. As well as receiving Postgraduate studentship funding and contract work, I have published widely in practitioner journals, books and featured press articles and have given invited talks and lectures to numerous building conservation and ecological building architects, practitioners and organisations, preservation trusts and to students studying at Edinburgh University School of Architecture. I am a Steering Group Committee member for the AHRC funded Health Effects of Modern Airtight Construction (HEMAC) Network (

More recently I have been involved in innovation and knowledge exchange projects for the food and drink industry.

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