A photo of a man standing in front of a Christmas tree.

Shengwei Liu

University of Warwick


Microbial lipid cycling in the oceans: an integrated ‘omics’ approach


  • Prof. Yin Chen
  • Prof. David Scanlan
  • Dr. Katherine Helliwell 

PhD Summary

Global marine ecosystems consistently experience nutrient depletion, creating constraints on microbial growth and influencing overall ecosystem structure. Lipids are a major component of all living cells, and lipidomics is an essential tool kit in microbial and molecular ecology. However, the lipid cycling driven by marine microorganisms remains largely unknown. Thus, this PhD project integrates a variety of computational (e.g., lipidomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, and genomics) and wet-lab (e.g., molecular genetics and microcosm experiments) approaches to reveal microbial lipid cycling in the oceans. 

Previous activity

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marine resource and environment from Dalian Maritime University (2016-2020). Subsequently, I pursued a master’s degree in environmental science with a focus on microbial ecology within mining areas at Sun Yat-sen University (2020-2023). Currently, I have contributed as the first author to three scientific papers published in The ISME Journal, Ecological Indicators, and Science of The Total Environment. 

Why did you choose doctoral research?

Firstly, my passion for marine microbiology is the most important personal motivation for doing a PhD. During my undergraduate and master studies, I participated in various projects investigating environmental microbiomes and their ecological roles. I really enjoyed doing research, and these academic experiences and achievements inspired me to explore in-depth and find out more about microbial ecology as a PhD. More importantly, I think doctoral research in marine microbiology brings together microbial biology and ecology to create an integrated approach that addresses environmental management, human health, and economic concerns. 

Why did you choose CENTA?

CENTA offers a collaborative platform that allows my supervisors and me to collaboratively design a research project aligned with our interests. Additionally, it provides diverse training opportunities aimed at honing academic and research skills. Most significantly, being part of the CENTA cohort enables the establishment of distinctive and intimate relationships with peers hailing from different universities. 

Future plans

I am planning to engage in research and teaching marine microbiology as a career goal. Therefore, I believe this PhD programme is a good opportunity to develop my research skills and learn more about marine microbiology, which is invaluable in achieving my further objectives.