Personal profile


Leena is Assistant Professor of Microbiology at the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. She teaches Applied, Environmental and Medical Microbiology and is actively involved in research and the supervision of project students. 

Her research interests include natural product discovery, drug discovery, bacterial interspecies interactions, plant-microbe interactions, microbiomes of the built-environment and microbial ecology in general. Leena uses a variety of tools in her research such as Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology, genome mining and microbial bioinformatics.

Prior to joining Heriot-Watt University, Leena was a Senior Research Associate at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Her research focused on applying NGS techniques, such as whole genome sequencing and transcriptomics, to facilitate drug discovery and development. She has a number of publications, including under the name Dr Leena Nieminen and has presented her research at conferences in the UK, Europe, Far East and North America as well as on the BBC news.

She has previously worked on drug development at a global Life Sciences company in East Lothian as well as project managing an EU project bringing together 9 European cities. She has also worked as a Visiting Scientist at the University of Glasgow.

Leena holds a Master of Science (M.Sc) degree in Environmental Microbiology and Chemistry from the University of Helsinki in Finland and has a Doctorate of Philosophy in Microbiology from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. As part of her undergraduate degree, she spent one year studying at the University of Gent in Belgium (where she met her Scottish husband).

Outside work, Leena has been Treasurer of the Scottish Finnish Society and enjoys spending time with her young family and travelling.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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