I completed a B. Sc (Hons) degree and a Ph.D. in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Melbourne, working on the genetics and biochemistry of extracellular enzyme production in Clostridium perfringens . I then took up a postdoctoral position in the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin where I first worked on antibiotic resistance in C. perfringens . After a stint as a Research Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry in the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University, where I was a gene jockey in an enzyme kinetics group, I accepted a Lectureship and then a Senior Lectureship in the School of Veterinary Studies at Murdoch University in Perth. It was at Murdoch University that I established my first independent research laboratory and resumed my studies on antibiotic resistance plasmids in C. perfringens . It was also at Murdoch that I started my research on Dichelobacter nodosus , the primary causative agent of ovine footrot. In 1985 my research group moved to Monash University in Melbourne when I accepted a Senior Lectureship in the Department of Microbiology.
In 1991 I was promoted to Reader and in 1998 accepted a Personal Chair in Microbiology. In 1990 I was made a Fellow of the Australian Society for Microbiology and in 1995 was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. At Monash I have expanded my research interests to encompass molecular aspects of microbial pathogenesis, particularly of anaerobic bacteria. I was awarded the 1995 Silver Jubilee Research Prize of the Monash University Faculty of Medicine for my research on the molecular genetics of anaerobic bacteria. In 1989 and 1996 I undertook sabbatical stints at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Arizona and the University of Melbourne. In 1999-2000 I was Associate Dean (Research Degrees) in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash and a member of the Microbiology Discipline Panel of the National Health and Medical Research Council. From 2004 to 2006 I was President of the Australian Society for Microbiology.