Committee

Maurizio Labbate is the Chair of the ASM NSW/ACT Branch Committee, and an Associate Professor in Microbiology at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). He leads a research group with expertise in bacterial evolution with a strong focus on lateral gene transfer, the mechanism by which bacteria share genetic information. His research groups’ broad goal is to apply their expertise in bacterial evolution to address One Health problems that straddle environmental, medical, and agricultural sciences. Specifically, he has interests in antimicrobial resistance, diseases affecting aquaculture species and pathogenic Vibrio species, particularly Vibrio cholerae. He teaches microbiology to undergraduates and postgraduates at UTS. Website Twitter: @mlabbate75

Tim Newsome is the Secretary of the ASM NSW/ACT Branch committee. Tim did his PhD in developmental genetics at the University of Zurich before converting to virology with a post-doctoral position at Cancer Research UK in London. He established his independent research group in 2007 at the University of Sydney where he followed his interest in host-viral interactions while continuing his long-standing interest in the cytoskeleton and cell behaviour. Unravelling these complex associations between host and parasite requires a multidisciplinary approach including viral genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology, but his passion will always remain microscopy. He coordinates Senior Virology in the Bachelor of Science. website.

Jim Manos is a bacteriologist specializing in biofilm and respiratory bacteria. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Charles Perkins Centre, Discipline of Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the University of Sydney. Jim leads a research team working on biofilm disruption as part of an industry partnership; his lab currently consists of a project coordinator, a postdoctoral fellow, three PhD students, one MPhil student, and one Honours student. Jim teaches Advanced Medical Bacteriology to postgraduate coursework students and Infectious Diseases to undergraduate Science students. He also runs clinical microbiology practical sessions for the Sydney Medical Program. Website.

Mitchell Brown is a microbiologist currently working with NSW Health Pathology. He completed his undergraduate studies (BSc Biomed) at the University of Technology, Sydney, then an MSc by thesis, and a graduate certificate in public sector management. He is currently enrolled in a PhD at the University of Sydney, focussed on genomic markers of staphylococcal infections – an important topic for any microbiologist working in the healthcare system. At NSW Health Pathology, Mitchell has worked in routine bacteriology, molecular diagnostics,  public health microbiology and has developed an interest in automation in microbiology.  Mitchell has been involved with the NSW/ACT branch of ASM for many years as an active branch member and past chair.

Slade Jensen is an Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in the School of Medicine, Western Sydney University and Head of the Antibiotic Resistance and Mobile Elements Group (ARMEG) based at the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research. He obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Sydney focussed on the role of horizontal gene transfer in bacterial evolution. His current research interests include the development of novel antimicrobials and the molecular mechanisms that facilitate the vertical/horizontal transmission of resistance plasmids in Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecium. Slade teaches ID and Micro to WSU medical students and supervises undergraduate and postgraduate research students. website

Martina Sanderson-Smith is an Associate Professor in Molecular Microbiology at the University of Wollongong (UOW). She completed her PhD at UOW and undertook postdoctoral research at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Germany. Her research is focused on virulence mechanisms of the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, with specific interests in interactions between S. pyogenes and the host fibrinolytic system, GAS-glycan interactions and mechanisms of innate immune resistance. Martina teaches Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Immunology at UOW and supervises undergraduate and postgraduate research students. She is also a strong advocate for the embedding of principles of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in teaching,  research practice and training. Website. Twitter: @DrmartinaS

Nick Coleman is an Associate Professor in Microbiology at the University of Sydney. His research is in environmental microbiology and biotechnology, including discovery and characterisation of bacteria which break down pollutants, harnessing microbes and their enzymes for biocatalysis, and investigating ecological aspects of the problem of antibiotic resistance. His lab is committed to open-source science and the generation and dissemination of new tools for studying bacterial genetics. His favourite bacteria include (but are not limited to!) E.coli, Mycobacterium, and Pseudomonas.  Nick teaches microbiology to undergraduates across all years of their degree, and has introduced synthetic biology into the curriculum at USyd by supervising student teams in the iGEM competition. Website.  Twitter: @Colemanomonas

Anukriti Mathur is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University, under the supervision of Prof. Si Ming Man. Anukriti completed her Bachelor of Technology in Biotechnology at Amity University, India and her Master of Engineering in Biotechnology from the Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani, India. Her research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanism of bacterial toxins in inducing cell death and inflammation. Anukriti’s research has been recognised by multiple awards from professional societies, early career grants from Gretel and Gordon Bootes Medical Research Foundation and translational grants from Beta Therapeutics. Website.  Twitter: @anukriti_mathur

Jai Tree is a Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at the University of New South Wales. He completed his PhD at the University of Queensland and undertook post-doctoral studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK and University of Melbourne. His research aims to understand the molecular pathways that control disease progression in bacterial pathogens. A major focus of the lab is to understand how regulatory non-coding RNAs control and co-ordinate expression of genes that are required for pathogenesis and antibiotic resistance. He is also enthusiastic about undergraduate learning and teaches Microbiology, Molecular Biology, and Bacterial Genetics. Website. Twitter: @jaitreeau

Mohammad Hamidian is an ARC DECRA Fellow working in the iThree institute at the University of Technology Sydney. He obtained his PhD in Microbiology in 2014, followed by postdoctoral training at the University of Sydney. He has also completed a Graduate Certificate Degree in Educational Studies (Higher Education) in 2015 at the University of Sydney. Mohammad’s research has focused on characterising genomic regions that carry antibiotic resistance genes in Acinetobacter baumannii, which is a bacterium that causes a range of hospital acquired infections and is highly resistant to antibiotics. Mohammad’s work on A. baumannii has increased our understanding of pathways leading to the success of one of the two globally distributed clones of A. baumannii, global clone 1 (GC1). Website. Twitter: @MoHamidian

Alan Heritage is a consultant microbiologist specialising in sterilisation validation. Alan did his PhD at the University of Queensland studying anaerobic dehalogenation. He has worked for medical device manufacturers such as Cochlear Ltd and also in the veterinary vaccine industry for Arthur Websters Vaccines. He is an expert in quality control systems and microbiological international standards, especially as these apply to clean room manufacture and operation. Alan has lectured in microbiology at WSU and UNSW, and is the national convenor of the ASM’s Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals Special Interest Group (CAPSIG).

Chris Harmer is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Sydney. He completed his PhD at the University of Sydney studying chronic bacterial infections in cystic fibrosis patients. His current research focuses on the mobile genetic elements and plasmids that are responsible for the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in Gram negative and Gram positive bacteria, with a view to curtailing the spread of resistance genes via improved surveillance and epidemiological interventions. Twitter: @charmer_MGE

Thiru Vanniasinkam is a Senior Lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW. Thiru teaches microbiology and immunology to undergraduates in first and final years of their course in a range of programs including B. Medical Science and B. Pharmacy. She is the Discipline Lead for Medical Science in the School of Biomedical Sciences. Her research interests include veterinary and medical microbiology and vaccine development. Thiru is a member of the Murrumbidgee Local Health District Research and Innovation Committee, promoting applied microbiology/immunology research and contributing to professional development programs offered to health care personnel in regional NSW.   She is also interested in microbiology and immunology education, education related research, and is secretary of the ASM EdSIG. Website.

Karl Hassan is an ARC Future Fellow at the University of Newcastle. Karl is a molecular microbiologist with expertise in functional genomics and protein biochemistry/biophysics. Karl’s research broadly examines mechanisms of small molecule transport in bacteria, the physiology of bacterial cell envelopes and bacterial global regulatory networks. Karl has current research projects investigating antimicrobial drug resistance in Gram-negative bacteria, microbial metal ion homeostasis, plant pathogen suppression by biocontrol bacteria and tools for exploiting bacteria in the production of high-value chemicals. Webpage. Twitter:@BRaTlab

Tom Jeffries did his PhD in marine microbial ecology at Flinders University before moving to the University of Technology Sydney for a postdoc in the same field.  He then switched to soil microbial ecology, completing a second postdoc at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University, where he was later appointed Lecturer in Microbiology. Tom teaches microbiology, serves as course advisor for the Bachelor of Science and has established a research group in molecular microbial ecology.  His current research focuses on applying molecular and computational tools to understand the drivers of microbial diversity in different habitats including the ocean, dryland soils, biofilms and the human microbiome.  Tom is the Deputy Director of the Joint Academic Microbiology Seminars (JAMS) group. Webpage. Twitter: @Thomas_Jeffries

Dr Amy Cain has a PhD from the University of Sydney, where she investigated movement of antibiotic resistance genes in Salmonella enterica with Prof. Ruth Hall. Amy moved to Cambridge, UK, to work as a research fellow at the Wellcome Sanger Institute with Prof. Julian Parkhill - developing genomics techniques like TraDIS . Then she moved to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in Malawi, tracking and sequencing hospital-acquired resistant infections. Amy established her own group in 2019 at Macquarie University, where she is an ARC DECRA fellow in the Department of Molecular Sciences and the Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology and Applied Biosciences. She focuses on developing new antibiotics using functional genomic techniques, novel single-cell microfluidics-based methodology, adaptive evolutionary approaches and the Galleria high-throughput in vivo model. She also uses synthetic biology to create microbes that degrade plastics. See google scholar and lab website.

Evan Gibbs is a PhD candidate in the Bacterial Regulation and Transport Laboratory (BRaT Lab) at the University of Newcastle (UoN) under Dr Karl Hassan. His PhD candidature focuses on antimicrobial resistance and alternative sources to fossil fuel-based products. He also collaborates with a team of innovative PhD candidates and postdocs on autonomously forming, polymicrobial synthetic scaffolds. Currently he is the Postgraduate Representative for Research on the UoN Academic Senate, Research Committee, IBC and Student Representative Council. Together with two other PhD candidates he advises the inaugural iGEM Team and Australasian SynBio Team, The DeNovocastrians. He also led a prize-winning team in the UON Ideas Spark Competition that aims to use 3D printed devices incorporating synthetic microbial communities to knockdown mosquito populations in a target area. Twitter @EvoGibbs

Laurence Luu is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Dr. Natalia Castaño Rodríguez's and A/Prof. Nadeem Kaakoush's research group at the University of New South Wales. He is researching how interactions between host immunogenetics and microbiome lead to gastrointestinal cancers and inflammatory bowel diseases. Laurence completed his PhD in 2018 under the supervision of Prof. Ruiting Lan and Dr. Sophie Octavia where he investigated the evolution of Bordetella pertussis to vaccines. During his PhD, he discovered new adaptations that were associated with increased fitness in the Australian B. pertussis population. This discovery garnered widespread media attention and led to a national call to improve vaccines for whooping cough. website Twitter: @LaurenceLuu

Joanna Rothwell is a PhD candidate in Dee Carter's lab at the University of Sydney as part of the ARC Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry. Her current project involves investigating the efficacy of current and novel post-harvest chemical treatments in fresh produce processing. The goal of her project is to lessen food waste and to reduce the survival of food borne pathogens in fresh food. Currently, Jo is investigating the application of cold atmospheric plasma activated water to fresh produce processing which is an up-and-coming technology with lower health and environmental impacts compared to existing sanitisers. Prior to this, Joanna completed her Bachelor of Science with an Honours project testing a novel anti-fungal drug against invasive mould species. Twitter: @joannarothwell

Heema Vyas is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate with Dr Anne Mai-Prochnow at the University of Sydney, where she is researching the effect of cold atmospheric plasma on bacterial biofilms. Heema’s PhD was at the University of Wollongong, focused on designing and optimising a Group A Streptococcus (GAS) host pharyngeal cell biofilm model and using this model to assess the role of pharyngeal cell surface glycans in biofilm formation. In addition to her research interests, Heema advocates for mental health and wellbeing in academia, and as a woman of colour in STEMM, Heema is passionate about ensuring parity for all in STEMM. Heema has been involved in several blog posts and interviews exploring wellbeing in the life sciences, and as a panellist and active committee member for equity, diversity, and inclusivity initiatives in STEMM/academia. Follow her on Twitter @HKNVee