Senior Lecturer, Department of Microbiology, La Trobe University

I am an applied environmental microbiologist with experience in identifying and characterising natural biological processes for their application in marine, agronomic and industrial systems. An understanding of natural processes is fundamental for comprehension of ecosystem function and application to biotechnology, bioremediation and bioenergy.

In the environment, microbes are commonly found aggregated to each other and/or a surface in what is referred to as a biofilm. Forming biofilms enable microbes to perform unique physiological processes. Our challenge is to understand the microbial biofilms, their function in nature and how these functions can benefit us. In particular, bacterial biofilms that can promote the growth of plants or transfer electrons extracellularly are a focus.

Bacterial interactions with plant roots can have both beneficial and detrimental effects. These activities involve complex signalling and interactions between the plant and the rhizosphere-associated microbial communities.

Extracellular electron transfer is commonly associated with electricity production by bacteria in microbial fuel cells, microbial extracellular electron transfer is an important environmental process and has applications in bioremediation and in the microbial mediated production of specialty chemicals.

Fundamental to these applied applications is a basic understanding of the microbial processes, interactions and evolution in the biofilm mode of life.

Experience

  • 2011–present
    Senior Lecturer, Environmental Microbiology, Dpt of Microbiology, La Trobe University.
  • 2009–2011
    Assistant Professor (Research) , Geobacter Project, Department of Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA.
  • 2007–2008
    Senior Research Scientist, Geobacter Project, Department of Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA.
  • 2005–2007
    Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow in Science, Engineering and Technology , National University of Ireland, University College Cork (UCC), Cork, Ireland.

Education

  • 2005 
    University of New South Wales, PhD/Microbiology and Immunology

Research Areas

  • Microbiology (0605)
  • Microbial Ecology (060504)
  • Environmental Sciences (05)
  • Renewable Power And Energy Systems Engineering (Excl. Solar Cells) (090608)
  • Bacteriology (060501)