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NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow, University of Wollongong

I am an early-career researcher (PhD awarded March 2015) and an emerging leader in the field of cellular neuroscience using the Caenorhabditis elegans model organism. My PhD research, funded by the highly-competitive International Postgraduate Research Scholarship, focussed on the role of a neuronal protein in C. elegans related to the Tau protein in mammals, which is strongly implicated in the pathology of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. This research resulted in 8 total publications including 3 as lead-author (J Cell Sci 2013, Sci Rep 2014, Aging Cell 2015). In August 2015, I joined the team of Dr William Schafer at the world-leading Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge UK, supported by a Medical Research Council Career Development Fellowship (CDF). I was later awarded a European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) Long-term Fellowship, a prestigious, globally-competitive fellowship with a success rate of ~11% (of ~1500 total applications), to continue my research in Cambridge. As a postdoctoral fellow, I gained expertise in techniques for dissecting the fundamental neural mechanisms underlying physiological and dysfunctional states. My success in this endeavour is evidenced by 9 high-profile papers from 2015-2019 including in Neuron, Nature, Phil Trans B and PLoS Comp Biol, and 2 book chapters (one as last-author currently in press at Oxford University Press). I have also established an international network of collaborations in the US, Europe and Asia, some of which have been formalised by a collaborative R01 grant awarded by the NIH, USA (2018). Currently a Lecturer/Research Group Leader at the University of Wollongong/Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, my research vision is to investigate the principles of how changes in neuromodulation can contribute to learning and memory, and how defects in this process lead to neuropathology. I was recently awarded an NHMRC Investigator Grant 2020 (EL1) and Rebecca L Cooper Project Grant 2020 to further develop this program of research. In addition, UOW has demonstrated its strong support for my research program by providing $100,000 to purchase consumables/equipment required for neuropathology experiments in C. elegans, including imaging equipment and a microinjector for the generation of transgenic lines.

Experience

  • –present
    NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow, University of Wollongong
  • 2019–2020
    Lecturer, University of Wollongong
  • 2015–2019
    Postdoctoral fellow, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge UK
  • 2011–2015
    PhD candidate, University of Sydney

Education

  • 2015 
    University of Sydney, PhD
  • 2010 
    University of Sydney, BSc (Hons) Class I, University Medal

Grants and Contracts

  • 2020
    Rebecca L Cooper Medical Foundation Research Project Grant
    Role:
    Sole CI
    Funding Source:
    Rebecca L Cooper Medical Foundation
  • 2020
    NHMRC Investigator Grant
    Role:
    Sole CI
    Funding Source:
    National Health and Medical Research Council

Professional Memberships

  • Australasian Neuroscience Society

Research Areas

  • Cell Neurochemistry (060105)
  • Animal Neurobiology (060805)

Honours

NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow 2020 (Australia), EMBO Postdoctoral Fellow 2016 (UK), MRC Career Development Fellow 2015 (UK)