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Biological Sciences
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Professor Bill Keevil BSc PhD CBiol FRSB FRSM FAAM

Chair in Environmental Healthcare, Principal Investigator (Microbiology & environmental health), Director of the Environmental Healthcare Unit, Chair of the University Genetic Manipulation and Safety Committee, Member of the University Safety & Occupational Health Committee

Professor Bill Keevil's photo

Professor Bill Keevil is Chair in Environmental Healthcare within Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Career History

2003-present: Head of the Microbiology Group. University of Southampton, UK.
2000-present: Director of the Environmental Healthcare Unit. University of Southampton, UK.
2003-2005: Scientific Advisor to the House of Commons Select Committee on Science & Technology, London, UK.
2000-2004: Visiting Professor of Microbiology. University of Exeter, UK.
1997-2000: Scientific Leader. Microbial Research Authority, CAMR Porton Down, UK.
1994-1997: Consultant Clinical Microbiologist and Head of the Microbial Technology Department. Microbial Research Authority, CAMR Porton Down, UK.
1990-1994: Clinical Scientist Grade C (Merit) and Head of Physiology & Biofilms Section. Public Health Laboratory Service, CAMR Porton Down, UK.
1985: Winner of the Colgate Prize
1984-1990: Principal Grade Microbiologist, Public Health Laboratory Service, CAMR Porton Down, UK
1983: Visiting Research Fellow, University of Manitoba, Canada.
1979-1984: Senior Grade Microbiologist, Public Health Laboratory Service, CAMR Porton Down, UK.
1978-1979: Head of Small Scale Polysaccharide Research, Tate & Lyle Ltd, University of Reading.
1976-1978: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southampton, UK.

Academic Qualifications

2011: FRSM, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine
1998: FAAM, Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology
1998: FIBiol, Fellow of the Institute of Biology (now Royal Society of Biology)
1998: CBiol, Chartered Biologist
1976: PhD. Biochemistry, University of Birmingham, UK.
1973: BSc. Biochemistry, University of Birmingham, UK.

Research interests

  • Physiology and adaptive mechanisms for survival of pathogens, in vivo and in vitro e.g. Legionella, Helicobacter, E. coli O157, MRSA, C. difficile.
  • Biofilms in the environment, the built environment and clinical practice.
  • Surface contamination, including prions; fouling and corrosion.
  • Survival of sublethally damaged pathogens in water and human and animal wastes recycled to agricultural land, e.g. E coli O157 Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Cryptosporidium

PhD supervision


Callum Highmore: BBSRC Industrial CASE student / Decontamination of biofilm and VBNC zoonotic pathogens on the salad leaf phylloplane for enhanced food security and safety
Nany Malissa Rahimi: Commonwealth Scholar / Development, persistence and control of biofilms on urinary catheters utilising advanced imaging and molecular techniques.
Chris Winnard: IfLS student / Biofilm formation in neonatal naso-gastric tubes
Tom Maybe: DSTL student / Biosynthesis of nanomaterials with spectrally selective solar absorptance


Research group


Affiliate research groups

Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS), Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP)

Research project(s)

Biofouling control for in-situ lab-on-a-chip environmental sensors

Using microscopy and molecular community analysis techniques, the effects of antifouling methods will be assessed.

Development of endoscope decontamination procedures

This project will assess the cleanliness of existing endoscopes and the efficacy of current decontamination procedures, using a new highly sensitive microscopy imaging method to identify and quantify residual contamination from a range of flexible endoscopes, and new cell assays to assess potential prion infectivity.

Antimicrobial copper: Biocidal efficacy and killing mechanism of copper and copper alloy dry surfaces against bacterial and viral pathogens

Touch surfaces are an important conduit for transmission of bacteria, viruses and fungi, leading to mass outbreaks of disease in the community and healthcare acquired infections by multiple antibiotic resistant microorganisms causing great morbidity and mortality.

BioliSME II: Demonstration, validation and preliminary promotion of a commercial prototype speedy system for sampling and detecting Listeria monocytogenes

The objective of the work developed by the partner University of Southampton is to firstly optimize the formation of L. monocytogenes biofilms and then conduct experiments to calculate the detachment forces required to remove L. monocytogenes biofilms.

Cold Atmospheric Plasma (CAP) for the decontamination of reusable surgical instruments

To evaluate the potential of Cold Atmospheric Plasma as a tool for the decontamination of reusable surgical instruments and endoscopes, thus significantly reducing the risk of iatrogenic infections with prions and potentially other resilient agents.

Development of anti-fouling strategies for long-term deployed in situ sensors in marine environments

Analysis of biofilms in the marine environment and of the effectiveness of antifouling strategies

Environmental Healthcare Unit Consultancy

Our Consultancy Service has dealt with a wide range of projects in collaboration with both small and large multinational companies. We offer a range of testing services using up-to-date microbiological methods and the latest techniques in specialised microscopy.

Microbial interactions in multi-species drinking water biofilm community

Using the model organism Pseudomonas aeruginosa to investigate mechanisms by which drinking water biofilms harbour important pathogenic microorganism and how these interactions within multi-species biofilms can enhance genetic adaptation and evolution of microbial pathogens.

Rapid assessment of surface contamination and decontamination efficacy

Development of rapid, sensitive, advanced EDIC/EF light microscopy based protocols to assess the efficacy of current bio-decontamination systems.

Role of hypoxia and DNA mismatch repair in tumorigenesis

Using a multicellular tumour spheroid model to investigate the role of hypoxia and DNA mismatch repair on the fundamental processes of importance in tumour development

The role of nitric oxide in the control of biofilm and zoonotic pathogen colonisation of the salad phylloplane

Investigating the use of the signalling molecule nitric oxide for microbial control at the phylloplane

SecurEau – Security and decontamination of drinking water distribution systems following a deliberate contamination event.

This work aims to design novel methodologies for the detection of low levels of contaminants, model the distribution of contaminants throughout a network and identify the point of origin, develop the use of sensors for surveillance and provide decontamination protocols for polluted networks and installations, including the neutralisation of contaminated water and residues.

Prevention and minimisation of biofilms on urinary catheters and equipment

Biofilm development on urinary catheters is a major healthcare issue, leading to infection and blockage. Here we are using advanced microscopy and viability techniques to improve our understanding of biofilm development and persistence on urinary catheters.

Occurrence and horizontal gene transfer of carbapenemase and ESBL genes in soil microbiomes

Understanding the links between lettuce leaf phenotypes and the abundance and diversity of microbes with a view to breeding for improved shelf life and safety

Bubble Management in an Ultrasonic System to Clean using a Water Stream

The StarStream device cleans using only room temperature water, ultrasound and air. This CASE award studentship, funded by EPSRC and Ultrawave Ltd., examines method of improving the StarStream by looking at the engineering associated with the water supply components of the device. This entails the design and construction of new bubble diagnostics technology.

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Book Chapters






BIOL1007 Macromolecules of Life
BIOL1020 Bioanalysis
BIOL2022 Immunology, Infection and Inflammation
BIOL2038 Microbiology - From the Natural Environment to Disease
BIOL3017 The Molecular Structural Basis of Disease
BIOL3057 Biofilms and Microbial Communities

Project Supervisor

BIOL3031 Literature-based Research Project
BIOL3032 Literature-based Research Project
BIOL3034 In-depth Research Project
BIOL3060 Science Communication
BIOL6011 Advanced Library Project 1

Professional membership

Member of EPSRC National Centre for Advanced Tribology (nCATS) Management Board
Biological Sciences Liaison Officer with Society of Biology, London
MOD Independent Scientific and Technical Advice (ISTA) Register
DEFRA Drinking Water Inspectorate Rapid Methods Committee, London
DoH Decontamination Working Group, London
IWW Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Institut für Wasser, Mulheim, External Management Board
CEN TC308 WG1 Committee, Brussels
British Standards Institute EH/5 Wastes Committee, London

Professor Bill Keevil
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 85/4059

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