Department of
Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Image of Rachel Louise Gomes

Rachel Louise Gomes

Professor of Water & Resource Processing, Faculty of Engineering



Rachel is a Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering with research into intelligent resource use in process environments, with a particular focus on waste/water treatment, water reuse, and process manufacturing for emerging pollutants and pollutant-to-product opportunities. She is Head of the Food, Water, Waste (FWW) Research Group and Lead for the University of Nottingham Interdisciplinary Research Cluster, Water Works.

Rachel has a PhD from Imperial College London and received the Wellcome Trust Value in People Award and was one of the '100 women, 100 visions' celebrating women scientists and engineers. Rachel obtained an Anne McLaren Fellowship to continue her research aty the University of Nottingham. In 2013 Rachel was selected as an University Engineering Future Research Leader, and in 2014 became 1 of 20 on the EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research, Trustee for the Papplewick Water Education Trust and one of the Analytical Scientist magazine's Top 40 under 40 Power List featuring 40 individuals under the age of 40 who are already having a big impact on the field of analytical science. Rachel was listed in recognition of developing novel analytics to inform on wastewater treatment and chemical manufacture. In 2020, she was one of the WES Top 50 Women in Engineering for Sustainability and also received a University Vice Chancellor's Medal.

Rachel has a funding portfolio from Research Councils, Charities and Industry including Principle investigator on the EPSRC BIOTRANSFOROMICS Engineering understanding in wastewater treatment, EPSRC-funded Engineering Water Resilience Doctoral Training Programme, Water Quality Lead for the Leverhulme Trust Modelling and Analytics for a Sustainable Society, and Co-Investigator and Engineering lead on the cross-disciplinary EPSRC Systems-level approaches to antimicrobial resistance, and NERC-led Cross Council Evaluating the threat of AMR in agricultural slurries funded projects.

Expertise Summary

Expertise: process resilience, circular economy, wastewater treatment, process manufacture, analytics and modelling

Teaching Summary

Module Convener and Lecturer:

- Water Treatment, Year 3 MEng/BEng and MSc Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

- Water Treatment Engineering, Year 4 MEng and MSc Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Contributing lecturer:

- Design projects, Year 3 MEng/BEng Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

- Process Engineering Laboratories - Multicomponent separations in wastewater: Analysis and reactor design for adsorption processes, Year 3 MEng/BEng Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

- Design & Research Projects - Bioprocess and Sustainable Process Engineering, Year 4 MEng and MSc Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

- Contaminant, Environmental pollutants: Fate, Impact and Remediation., Year 3 BSc Environmental Sciences School of Biosciences

- Engineering for Scientists, Doctoral Training Partnership/Centre for Doctoral Training PhD students

Research supervisor:

- Kris Still PhD Biotechnology, Process focused enzyme engineering, BBSRC Scholarship (2013 - 2017)

- Anike Akinrinlade PhD Chemical Engineering, Developing sustainable approaches for processing valuable products from renewable biomass feedstock, BBSRC Scholarship (2012 - 2016)

- Youla Jenidi PhD Environmental Engineering, Biocatalyst-based treatment of bioactive chemical pollutants in wastewaters, University of Nottingham Dean of Engineering Scholarship for International Excellence (2012 - 2015)

- Nor Hazren Abdul Hamid PhD Environmental Engineering, Adsorption of heavy metal pollutants from water matrices by modified cellulose nanowhiskers, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) Scholarship (2012 - 2016)

- Shridharan Parthasarathy PhD Environmental Engineering, Addressing country specific issues in wastewater treatment, University of Nottingham Intercampus Scholarship - United Kingdom and Malaysia Campuses (2011 - 2014)

- Co-supervisor for Marie Athorn with the School of Biosciences, Establishing the ecological value of industrial constructed reedbeds, BBSRC Scholarship (2013 - 2017)

- Supervisor for EPSRC and BBSRC DTP Rotations and Engineering Research Placements, which are 8 - 12 week placements for Year 1 PhD students or Year 2/3 Chemical or Environmental Engineering students on research projects covering bio-extractives in wastewater treatment and chemical processes.

Research Summary

Resource management and waste minimisation are crucial in wastewater treatment and chemical processes. New approaches are needed to manage resources and treat wastes enabling reuse within the… read more

Selected Publications

Current Research

Resource management and waste minimisation are crucial in wastewater treatment and chemical processes. New approaches are needed to manage resources and treat wastes enabling reuse within the process, value recovery from waste streams (e.g. chemicals and/or energy generation) and/or release into environmental systems (subject to meeting necessary legislative requirements). Of particular interest is the use of bio-sourced feedstocks or catalysts that increase the system complexity due to the inherent variability exhibited by the biological entity. Developing and evaluating processes to produce wastewater fit for reuse and manufacture chemicals to the desired specification need to understand and account for this complexity (adaptive bioprocessing).

My research interests are in wastewater, treatment, and reuse in the urban water cycle with a focus on pollutants, water quality and waste valorisation opportunities. We integrate monitoring and detection, response and intervention, and prediction to understand how wastewater reuse impacts and propagates in the urban water cycle (e.g. wastewater treatment, irrigation for crops, dairy farm manures and slurries). This incorporates understanding the variability of the water matrix and pollutant load, as well as ecosystem and anthropogenic influences and how this impacts pollutant remediation and process performance (whether anthropogenic - wastewater treatment or ecosystem driven - river systems, natural wetlands).

  1. Process understanding and treatment technologies to quantify and remediate pollutants (pharmaceuticals, steroids, metals, microplastics) in wastewater treatment, reuse and environmental systems including biocatalytic treatment technologies to remove emerging contaminants from wastewater matrices
  2. Analytics and modelling e.g. targeted and untargeted analysis of bioactive chemical pollutants and their metabolites to inform on process evaluation and technology development
  3. Evaluating the influence of complex variable process environments on pollutant fate and process performance e.g. enzyme activity as an indicator of process health
  4. Waste valorisation opportunities from wastewaters e.g. green bedding for the dairy farming industry, and novel adsorbents for chemical recovery from wastewaters
  5. Machine learning and cloud manufacturing as a sustainable process manufacturing route to process resilience and waste valorisation

Research activities are strongly aligned with industrial needs. One example project is seeking to develop a platform for sustainable manufacturing for industrial partners through addressing fundamental issues in the manufacture of chemicals. Industrial engagement also supports several PhD students with translation of research outcomes to industrial scale delivering improvements to drug manufacture and value from waste streams.

Opportunities are available in several of the above areas and also through the integrated four-year Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships in Mathematics for a Sustainable Society, EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Chemistry (CDT) and BBSRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). For informal enquiries, please contact Rachel with a cover letter and CV detailing your experience and interests. Information on applying to the Doctoral Training Centres is given on the respective websites.

Example projects from the Doctoral Training Centres include:

  1. Evaluating the influence of complex process environments on biocatalyst activity
  2. Antimicrobial resistance in dairy farming - understanding real-world interactions and the role of enzymes
  3. Evaluation and engineering of enzymes for use in water processing industries
  4. Data-driven models for delivering intelligent resource use in process manufacturing
  5. Novel adsorbent for waste valorisation and delivering water quality

Keywords: adaptive bioprocessing; resource efficiency; wastewater treatment; pollutant remediation; complex systems and processes; waste as a resource; feedstock variability and process constraints

Future Research

I welcome enquiries from potential PhD candidates from Home, EU and international countries who are interested in the following research areas: water quality, micropollutants (pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, metals, antimicrobial resistance, microplastics), wastewater treatment, bioprocesses, novel adsorbents, enzymes, waste to resource, circular economy, modelling and analytics.

Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 95 14081