Institute of Life Science 1 internal Atrium view up
Geertje is pictured in the ILS1 microbiology lab

Dr Geertje Van Keulen

Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences

Telephone number

+44 (0) 1792 602669

Research Links

Academic Office - 504
Fifth Floor
Institute of Life Science 1
Singleton Campus
Available For Postgraduate Supervision


Dr Geertje Van Keulen (she/her) is Associate Professor in Microbial Biochemistry in the Institute of Life Science at Swansea University.

She leads interdisciplinary research and innovation teams with microbiology at its core, expanding understanding into and sustainably exploiting the chemical and material properties of microbes in living, manufactured and natural (soil) environments. Her research links antibiotics, water repellency and materials, thereby switching focus between microbial to manufactured to soils with insights generated in one discipline quickly applied to another, and back, for generating step changes in knowledge and sustainable innovation. She is on the Academic Career Pathway in Enhanced Innovation and Engagement.

Geertje furthermore collaborates with hundreds of women in STEMM, especially through the public engagement and gender equality activities that she leads through Soapbox Science Swansea.

Areas Of Expertise

  • Interdisciplinary Science
  • Microbial (Soil) Biochemistry and Physiology
  • Biomaterials: Anticorrosion/Antibiofilm/Nanoadhesives
  • Metals & AMR in soils
  • Surface and Soil Water Repellency
  • Metabolic Engineering (Primary/C1/ Specialized Metabolism & Antibiotics)

Career Highlights

Teaching Interests
Students engaged in Geertje's Year 2 practical on carbohydrates

Geertje lectures on the Genetics and Biochemistry BSc and MSci degree programmes. Specifically, her research-informed teaching leads/contributes to modules on Advanced Metabolism (coordinator), Microbiology, Metabolic Regulation & Enzymology,  Biotechnology & Protein Engineering, and Energy and Metabolism: The Reactions of Life.

Geertje is furthermore training (Medical) Biochemistry students to develop their skills and competencies in numeracy, chemical data, literature surveying and research throughout the years of study and during their final year research projects. 

Collage of images and diagrams that capture all of Geertje's research activities

Geertje’s research and innovation efforts aims to capture the potential of the antibiotics-producing soil bacterium Streptomyces as a living chemical, materials and soil engineer. Her research investigates (i) microbial adaptation and bioengineering of water repellency in and adhesion/aggregation of natural and manufactured materials; (ii) natural production of antibiotics (antibiosis) for antimicrobial drug discovery; and (iii) resistance to antibiotics and metals especially in metal-polluted soils.

Geertje’s team works largely in interdisciplinary collaborative projects with researchers active in fields as diverse as soil and (bio)materials sciences, (bio)chemical engineering, metallurgy, AMR and pollution, hydrology, (hot tub and waste) water sanitation, nanotechnology, modelling, antimicrobial drug discovery, and medicines from medieval Welsh.

Award Highlights
Geertje is presented with an Award


Shortlisted for Swansea University Research & Innovation Award 2020 for best Contribution to Public Engagement. The video showing the award sponsor and shortlisted entries can be viewed here, with Geertje’s section starting at 1min05.


Genetics& Biochemistry Teaching Team won the Outstanding contribution to Teaching Award at the 2019 Medical School Annual Awards.


Awarded ‘Best Woman in Science and Technology’, a new category in the Women in Business 2018 Awards (West-Wales). The video shown at the Awards Ceremony that portrays Geertje can be viewed here.


EPSRC-funded DEng student Ms Alex Harold under supervision by Geertje was awarded global winner of the 2017 TATA INNOVISTA competition in the category Dare to Try.


One of the Talented Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths in the 2017 The Women into Science and Engineering (WISE) Campaign. The video showing all selected women can be viewed here, with Geertje’s section starting at 0min25.


One of the Inspiring Women 2017 as part of Swansea University’s celebrations for International Women’s Day 2017.

Collage of research groups, collaborators and funder logos

Geertje’s research and innovation programmes involve active industrial collaboration with Tata Steel, Nippon Sheet Glass group, Total Water Products, Hot Tubs UK/Eco3Spa, Engineered Biodesign Ltd, Demuris, Biotage, Quizslides,  British Geological Survey, and Rothamsted Research.

Geertje’s research and innovation programmes are currently or have recently been funded by Dstl’s Materials for Strategic Advantage Programme, M2A, NERC, BBSRC, EPSRC, the Centre for Defence Enterprise, Welsh Crucible, and the Defence and Security Accelerator.

Geertje furthermore collaborates with hundreds of women in STEMM especially through her public engagement activities with Soapbox Science Swansea.