Karl Hasan


Karl Hassan is the Chair of the ASM NSW/ACT Branch committee, and 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.

 Website | @BRaTlab

Tom Jeffries


Tom Jeffries is the Secretary of the ASM NSW/ACT Branch committee. Tom 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.

Website | @Thomas_Jeffries

Chris Harmer


Chris Harmer is the Treasurer of the ASM NSW/ACT Branch committee, and 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.


Maurizio Labbate

Maurizio Labbate is the Outgoing 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 | @mlabbate75

Amy Cain

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.

Website | Google Scholar

Kenya Fernandes

Kenya Fernandes is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at The University of Sydney working in Prof Dee Carter’s lab. Kenya investigates the biology of microbial pathogens and avenues for their treatment, with a particular emphasis on fungal pathogens of humans. In the space of drug discovery, Kenya works on developing novel agents that work synergistically with currently used drugs and is particularly interested in sourcing compounds from natural products. Currently, Kenya’s work focuses on the antimicrobial potential of Australian honey and investigating the relationship between bee health, ecosystem health, and honey activity. Kenya is particularly passionate about science communication and presenting accessible (and beautiful) science to diverse audiences. 

Website | Google Scholar

Evan Gibbs

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.


Slade Jensen

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. 


Megan Lenardon

Megan Lenardon is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of New South Wales. She completed her PhD at UNSW and undertook post-doctoral research in the Aberdeen Fungal Group at the University of Aberdeen, UK. Her research activities are focussed on developing innovative solutions to address the urgent clinical need for novel diagnostics and therapeutic strategies to combat invasive fungal infections. Current projects are focussed on developing microbial therapeutics to prevent invasive Candida albicans infections arising from the gastrointestinal tract, the development of novel antifungal polymers, and fungal cell wall structure and biosynthesis. Megan teaches medical biotechnology, yeast genetics and medical mycology. 

Website | @_doctormeg

Laurence Luu

Laurence Luu is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow (CPDRF) at UTS. His current research program investigates Chlamydia host-pathogen interactions to better understand how Chlamydia infection leads to infertility. This knowledge will be used to develop new interventions to reduce the significant burden of Chlamydia. Prior to joining UTS, Laurence completed his PhD in the Evolutionary Microbiology lab under the supervision of Prof. Ruiting Lan and Dr. Sophie Octavia at UNSW. Here, he investigated the evolution of Bordetella pertussis (which causes whooping cough) to vaccines. During his PhD, he discovered new proteomic adaptations that were associated with increased fitness in the current Australian B. pertussis strains circulating. This discovery garnered widespread media attention and led to a national call to improve vaccines for whooping cough. Laurence continued his research at UNSW as a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Natalia Castaño Rodríguez’s and A/Prof. Nadeem Kaakoush’s research group where he investigated how interactions between host immunogenetics and the microbiome can lead to cancers of the gastrointestinal tract and inflammatory bowel diseases. 

Website | @LaurenceLuu

Jim Manos

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. 


Tim Newsome

Tim Newsome 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. 


Ani Penesyan

Anahit (Ani) Penesyan is a Research Fellow at the School of Natural Sciences, Macquarie University. Since joining Macquarie University in 2011 Ani started a new research area for Macquarie, on microbial biofilms, which she currently leads. Ani uses state-of-the-art multi-omics tools to unravel microbial interactions, microbial evolution and adaptation in biofilms, as well as to uncover mechanisms of antimicrobial resilience. The overarching aim of Ani’s work is to understand the complex biofilm biology and develop novel strategies to construct and utilise beneficial biofilms, as well as to control unwanted biofilm formation. Ani currently leads biofilm research at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology.

Binod Rayamajhee

Binod Rayamajhee is a final-year PhD student in Prof. Mark Willcox’s lab at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW. Binod is an early-career microbiologist primarily studying the intracellular microbiome composition of bacterivorous Acanthamoeba and host-microbe interactions using Acanthamoeba as a model host. Binod’s research also focuses on detecting and identifying keratitis-causing Acanthamoeba in water resources using metagenomic approaches through a one-health lens. Binod also works with animal models of keratitis to investigate the impact of intracellular bacteria harbored by the amoebal host on the severity of corneal infections. Binod is passionate about science communication for the promotion of accessible and inclusive science and has been part of the ASM Communication Ambassador Program since 2021, contributing to blog posts and interviews exploring various scientific topics. 

Website | @RayamajheeBinod

Martina Sanderson-Smith

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 | @DrMartinaS

Daniel Seed

Daniel Seed is a Senior Hospital Scientist working for NSW Health Pathology in the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Department Concord Hospital.  He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Wollongong University majoring in Biological Science and a Master’s of Public health from the University of Sydney.  With 18 years’ experience in Clinical diagnostic microbiology, Daniel is part of the senior management team in the Department involved in the training, education and mentoring of staff.  He oversees the Mycobacteria Laboratory culturing for acid fast bacteria and the Serology Laboratory where routine Serology is tested.

Thiru Vanniasinkam

Thiru Vanniasinkam is an Associate Professor in Immunology at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW. Thiru teaches microbiology and immunology to undergraduates in a range of programs including B. Medical Science and B. Pharmacy. She is a Program Director in the School of Dentistry and Medical Sciences. Her research interests include veterinary and medical microbiology and vaccine development. Thiru is a member of the Wagga Wagga hospital research network (GOSI) promoting applied microbiology/immunology research within the local health district and contributing to professional development programs offered to health care personnel in regional NSW. Thiru is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AdvanceHE) UK and has a keen interest in microbiology and immunology education, education related research and is Convenor of the ASM EdSIG. 


Carola Venturini

Carola Venturini is a research fellow at The Sydney School of Veterinary Science (SSVS, USyd). She is a microbiologist primarily investigating the role of mobile genetic elements in the evolution of multidrug resistant bacterial pathogens with a multidisciplinary approach. After completing her PhD at the University of Wollongong on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) mechanisms in pathogenic enterobacteria, which remains one of her main research interests, she moved to UQ to study horizontal gene transfer and virulence in the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes as well as progressing her work on AMR transmission in enteric pathogens. From 2013 to 2021, Carola was part of the Iredell Critical Infection research group at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, where she led large-scope projects on the ecology of the gut microbiome related to antibiotic use and started exploring the use of bacteriophages to combat bacterial infection. Since joining the SSVS, Carola has expanded her research program on AMR control and bacteriophage use to animal settings, developing her independent research program with a truly One Health perspective. Carola is convenor of the ASM Public Health Microbiology SIG and committee member for the Bacteriophage Biology SIG. 

LinkedIn | @CarolaVenturini

Heema Vyas

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.