Dr Mary Hanson

Mary Hanson_2018

Lecturer in Molecular Biology

Biological Sciences

Contact Details

email: mary.hanson@worc.ac.uk

Dr Mary Hanson started as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Worcester developing novel molecular methods for detecting phytopathogens and investigating diagnostic biomarkers across the disciplines of plant pathology, human/animal health and the environment.

Presently her research investigates the dynamics of crop pathogens in the environment, particularly in relation to the agricultural ecosystems and future food security. Through microbiome analysis and environmental DNA (eDNA) studies she has evaluated the abundance of fungal crop pathogens in soils and the atmosphere.  She has a strong background in microbiology and soil science and has worked with many pathogens, such as Plasmodiophora brassicae (clubroot disease), Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (ash die-back), Golovinomyces cichoracearum and Podosphaera fusca (powdery mildews).  She has also worked with human/animal pathogens, such as allergenic Altemaria sp. and antibiotic resistant organisms, such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).  She is a member of the research group relating to atmospheric science and palynology and is an associate member of the sustainable environments research group.


PhD Plant and Environmental Science University of Warwick, 2011
MSc Food Safety, Hygiene and Management University of Birmingham, 2007
BSc. (Hons) Biological Sciences University of Birmingham, 2003



Mary is currently lead for the undergraduate modules:

BIOS2003/3003 Work Experience in Biological Sciences

BIOS2023 Microbiology

BIOS2104 Human Genetics

She is also involved in teaching modules such as molecular genetics, genomics and bioinformatics and other undergraduate modules relating to molecular biology, plus contributing to third year independent study supervision.  She is co-supervisor for one PhD student and is involved in taught elements of MRes courses.


Current research activities relate to:

  • Interactions within agricultural microbiomes
  • Detecting bioaerosols using eDNA
  • Developing novel pathogen diagnostics
  • Effect of environmental factors on microbial communities

Recent research project involvement:

2019 - 2020    Metabarcoding the atmospheric microbiome. Funded by; University of Worcester

2014 - 2018     New Approaches for the Early Detection of Tree Health Pests and Pathogens. Project ID: BB/L012286/1. Role: Post-doctoral Researcher. Funded by; BBSRC.

2017 - 2018    Microbiology of car cabin filters. Funded by; University of Worcester

2014 - 2016      Brassicas: Further development of ‘in field’ test for resting spores of clubroot disease based on detection, Project FV349 (cross reference; Project PR577). Role: Postdoctoral researcher/Reports Co-ordinator, Funded by; AHDB (Cereals)/Syngenta



Key Journal Articles

Ottosen, T.-B., Petch, G., Hanson, M. and Skjøth, C.A. (2020). Tree cover mapping based on Sentinel-2 images demonstrate high thematic accuracy in Europe. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 84:101947. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jag.2019.101947

Hurley, K.V., Wharton, L., Wheeler, M.J., Skjøth, C.A., Niles, C. and Hanson, M.C. (2019). Car cabin filters as sampling devices to study bioaerosols using eDNA and microbiological methods. Aerobiologia 35(2):215–225. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10453-018-09554-y

Hanson, M. (2018). Is reflective practice a threshold concept in Work-Based Learning? Worcester Journal of Learning and Teaching 12:6-16. ISSN 2024-8032  

Faggian, R., Hanson, M., Kennedy R, Petch, G., Wakeham, A (2017). Assessment of the response of Plasmodiophora brassicae in contaminated horticultural land using lime-based fertiliser concentrations. Food Energy and Security; 6:e122

Skjøth, C.A., Werner, M., Kryza, M., Adams-Groom, B., Wakeham, A., Lewis, M. and Kennedy, R. (2015). Quality of the governing temperature variables in WRF in relation to simulation of primary biological aerosols. Advances in Meteorology 2015:412658.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/412658


Conference proceedings:

Thor-Bjørn Ottosen, Geoffrey Petch, Mary Hanson, Carsten Skjøth. Towards a map of the European tree cover based on Sentinel-2. (2017). Published in: P. Soille and P.G. Marchetti (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2017 conference on Big Data from Space. BIDS' 2017, EUR 28783 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2017, ISBN 978-92-79-73527-1  

Lewis, M, Wakeham, A and Kennedy, R. A Molecular Based Seedling Assay System to Study the Germination and Primary Infection by Plasmodiophora brassicae (2013a). Acta Horticulturae. 1005: 583-589   

Lewis, M, Wakeham, A and Kennedy, R. The Effect of Micronutrients on the Germination and Infection of Plasmodiophora brassicae. (2013b). Acta Horticulturae. 1005: 583-589