Ms Rachel Harper

Research project: Investigating mycoremediation as a means of composting mixed fibre semi-synthetic textiles: a collaboration with Bamboo Clothing Ltd.


Microplastics are both a consequence of and contributor to plastic pollution within the environment, as larger plastics break down into microplastics and infiltrate marine ecosystems. Synthetic fibres within textiles such as elastane shed microplastics when washed and leach into underground water systems when textiles are disposed of in landfills. There has been previous research into the potential for microbes to degrade plastics, but mainly using bacteria. The bioremediation potential of fungi has not been as widely explored for plastics.

In this project, the ability of selected filamentous fungi to degrade mixed-fibre semi-synthetic textiles provided by Bamboo Clothing Ltd will be tested. Imaging, enzyme assays, and metabolomic methods will be used in order to investigate the methods, processes and pathways used by the fungi for biodegradation.

  • Research degree: MSc by Research
  • Title of project: Investigating mycoremediation as a means of composting mixed fibre semi-synthetic textiles: a collaboration with Bamboo Clothing Ltd.
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Alison Kelly


I completed my BSc Biology with a Year in Industry at Swansea University, with my undergraduate dissertation topic being a test of a novel method of transformation for filamentous fungi outlined in a paper by Chai et al in 2013. I then spent some time working as a Junior Lab Technician at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, mainly focusing on the maintenance of and user training for lab equipment and machines in the Biosciences Core Facility. I then worked for 2 years at the Chinese University of Hong Kong for the Department of Microbiology as a Junior Research Assistant, working on drug screening and projects involving novel antimicrobial compounds.

As of April 2021, I have joined Kingston University for an MSc by Research.

Areas of research interest

  • Fungal microbiology
  • Bioremediation
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Bacterial microbiology
  • Drug screening


  • BSc Biology with Year in Industry from Swansea University

Funding or awards received

  • £10,000 awarded from Bamboo Clothing Ltd


Chu, Adrian Jun, Lin, Lin, Chan, Shu Ting, Harper, Rachel, Ye, Jiqing, Xiao, Min, . . . Yang, Xiao. (2020). Benzyl and benzoyl benzoic acid inhibitors of bacterial RNA polymerase-sigma factor interaction. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 208, 112671.

Chu, Adrian Jun, Qiu, Yangyi, Harper, Rachel, Lin, Lin, Ma, Cong, & Yang, Xiao. (2020). Nusbiarylins Inhibit Transcription and Target Virulence Factors in Bacterial Pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. International Journal of Molecular Sciences., 21(16), 5772-18.

Ye, Jiqing, Chu, Adrian Jun, Harper, Rachel, Chan, Shu Ting, Shek, Tsun Lam, Zhang, Yufeng, . . . Ma, Cong. (2020). Discovery of Antibacterials That Inhibit Bacterial RNA Polymerase Interactions with Sigma Factors. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry., 63(14), 7695-7720.