Deputy Director, Australian Centre for Ecogenomics
Professor Gene Tyson is a microbial ecologist whose research applies culture-independent molecular approaches to understand the structure and function of microbial communities in the environment. During Gene’s dissertation research (University of California, Berkeley) he was the lead author on one of the first studies to use metagenomics. In this work he investigated the metabolic potential and population diversity of microbial communities involved in acid mine drainage (AMD) generation, and demonstrated, for the first time, that metagenomic data could be used to reconstruct near complete genomes directly from environmental samples.
Professor Tyson’s group at the University of Queensland, is now using the metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches he helped pioneer, to investigate microbial communities in a wide range of different communities in both engineered systems and natural environments. His group is continuing to develop new ways to analyze omic data by leading efforts in error correction for high-throughput sequencing platforms, single cell sequencing and deep spatio-temporal metagenomics
Dr SallyAnn Harbison is a Senior Science Leader and the DNA Technical Leader of the Forensic Biology Group of ESR at Mt Albert, actively engaged in forensic casework. Before joining ESR in 1988 SallyAnn completed her PhD at the University of Liverpool in the UK in plant virology and was a postdoctoral research fellow at University of Auckland. From 1988, SallyAnn undertook crime scene, evidence examination and DNA profiling, before specializing in DNA analysis in 1997. She has been an Honorary Lecturer on the Post-graduate Forensic Science Course at the University of Auckland since 1996 and supervises many research students. SallyAnn is currently the Chair of the Biology Special Advisory Group to ANZFEC (Australia and New Zealand Forensic Executive Committee). Her current areas of research interest include genomic analysis of short tandem repeats and SNPs of forensic relevance leading to a transformation to new generation sequencing approaches for casework and the recovery and identification of biological evidence using RNA techniques.
Dr Michael Knapp is a Rutherford Discovery Fellow and head of the Molecular Ecology and Palaeogenomics lab at the University of Otago. He was awarded his PhD from Massey University, New Zealand and has conducted postdoctoral fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany and at the University of Otago. He has also led a palaeogenetics and molecular ecology research group at Bangor University, UK. Michael has received a number of research awards, including a Royal Society of New Zealand Rutherford Discovery Fellowship and an Illumina Emerging Researcher Award. Michael’s research group focuses on how species interact with their environment both on the molecular and on the population level and on how human activity shapes biodiversity. This interdisciplinary work aims at addressing a number of key questions including:
How did past environmental change and human migration shape our present day biodiversity?
How do modern conservation measures influence biodiversity?
What is the genetic basis of evolutionary adaptation to new environments?
The work integrates genomic, phylogenetic, biogeographic and environmental data to address these questions from a multi-disciplinary angle.
James completed a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology (2006) and went on to complete first class Honours with Prof. Laurent Seuront and Prof. Jim Mitchell (2007) at Flinders University. Investigating the microscale distribution of viruses and heterotrophic bacteria at surface interfaces started my passion of microbial ecology in various environments. James completed his PhD in 2012 which investigated the effect of coastal upwelling and hydroclimatic forcing on the spatial and temporal dynamics of microbial communities in continental shelf waters.
James is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Microbial Systems Laboratory under the supervision of Prof. Jim Mitchell. His main area of research is focused on microbial community composition and dynamics within aquifer systems and how this information can define aquifer ecosystem state. Sampling for this project is being carried out across urban and country areas on a range of impacted and unimpacted aquifer systems. Using the sequence and abundance data obtained from these sites we will create quantitative network analyses and use these to assess aquifer ecosystem state.
My expertise is in the areas of plant molecular biology and plant functional genomics, particularly as it relates to cell wall biosynthesis, re-modeling and degradation and the impact these biological processes have on end use quality of cereals and biomass. Research in this area is mainly focused on barley as we have access to an excellent genetic transformation system and extensive genetic resources but we are now developing resources in other cereals and Plantago species. The gene families I have a particular interest in include the cellulose synthases, the mixed link beta-glucan synthases and the xylan synthases. Cellulose content is likely to have an impact on plant strength and is of central importance in the use of plants as a feedstock for biofuel production, whilst mixed-link glucans and arabinoxylans have major human health benefits and also crucially impact digestibility of animal feed and steps in brewing and baking processes. I also have an interest in the development and application of novel experimental methods for transcript profiling and gene discovery in plants.
Jeremy is an evolutionary biologist working in the fields of ancient DNA, molecular ecology, conservation genetics and forensic biology. He received his PhD from the University of Tasmania in 1995 and has held postdoctoral research positions at the Natural History Museum (London), University of Queensland (Brisbane), Museum Victoria (Melbourne) and the University of Adelaide. In 2011 he was awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council Future Fellowship and is now a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences, and Deputy Director of ACAD, at the University of Adelaide.
Jeremy’s research uses ancient and modern DNA techniques to “travel through time” to understand the evolutionary history of living and extinct vertebrates; assess the impacts of past environmental change on animal populations; and provide valuable genetic data for conservation and management of threatened species.
Since 2007 Jeremy has applied cutting-edge ancient DNA techniques to allow forensic identification of highly degraded human remains – murder victims, missing persons and war dead. In this area Jeremy’s group is developing new “genomics” techniques for human identification as well as providing a service to the Australian Defence Force, Australian Police and humanitarian agencies to assist with the identification of human remains.
Prof Jacqueline Batley is an ARC Future Fellow at the University of Western Australia. She was awarded her PhD from the University of Bristol UK in 2001. She moved to Australia in 2002, as a senior research scientist at DPI-Victoria, then led a research group at the University of Queensland as an ARC QEII Research Fellow, from 2007-2014. Jacqui has received several awards for her research including a University of Queensland Foundation Research Excellence Award, an ARC QEII Fellowship and an ARC Future Fellowship. Jacqueline has expertise in the field of plant molecular biology, genetics and genomics, gained from working in both industry and academia. Her areas of interest include genetic and genomic analysis and specifically, genome sequence analysis, pan genomics, SNP analysis and the role of structural variation for applications such as genetic diversity, genetic mapping, LD, GWAS, evolutionary, population and comparative genomic studies, as well as the molecular characterisation of agronomic traits. She is currently focussing on blackleg resistance in Brassicas.
Mike completed at PhD in Evolutionary Genetics at the Institute for Advanced Study at Massy University in New Zealand in 2009. After that he took up a Distinguished Postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Molecular Biology at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. In 2012 Mike moved to the USA to take up a Postdoctoral fellow ship in the FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University.
Professor Naomi Wray holds joint appointments at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) and the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) within the University of Queensland. She is a National Health and Medical Research Council Principal Research Fellow and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. Her research focusses on development of quantitative genetics and genomics methodology with application to psychiatric and neurological disorders. She plays a key role in the International Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and co-leads the IceBucket Challenge funded sporadic ALS Australia systems genomics consortium (SALSA)
Naomi Wray, Prof Peter Visscher and Prof Jian Yang together comprise the Executive Team of the Program in Complex Trait Genomics (PCTG) funded as an NHMRC Program Grant 2017-2021. The PCTG comprises a critical mass of more than 30 post-doctoral researchers plus research assistants and students, all supported by external grant funding. PCTG is structured into five research themes: Statistical Genomics, Systems Genomics, Psychiatric Genomics, MND Genomics and Genomics of Cognitive Ageing.
Dr Nic Waddell is head of the Medical Genomics group at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Australia. She is a cancer researcher and collaborative bioinformatician who is an expert in the interpretation of next generation sequence data. Her research group focuses on the identification of mutational processes and therapeutic opportunity in cancer. She is a member of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and her research group has played a key role in all three Australian ICGC projects (pancreatic, ovarian and melanoma). She leads the genomics within several other cancer genome projects including oesophageal, mesothelioma and familial cancers. She has published in high impact journals such as Nature, Nature Genetics and Nature Immunology.
She has a passion for seeing genomics implemented into the clinic. She is a co-founder of genomiQa, a precision analytics company who specialise in the analysis of whole genome data. She is a member of the Australian Genomics Health Alliance (AGHA) and the Queensland Genomics Health Alliance (QGHA). Within QGHA she co-leads the ethics, legal and social working group who are developing a series of guidelines and policies to support a range of these matters including community engagement, consent and the clinical use of genomics.
Nicole is a pioneer of novel genomics and bioinformatics techniques. In 2008 she described a new technology that revolutionized the way we study RNA. Now called RNA-seq, this technique was widely and rapidly adopted, and was the foundation for the Australian contribution to the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). Dr Cloonan is also well known for her work on miRNAs, being the first to apply a systems biology approach to the discovery of microRNA function, and the first to demonstrate that miRNA variants (isomiRs) had a biological role. In 2014, she described a new way in which miRNAs and mRNAs could interact, requiring a paradigm shift in the field, and she proposed a novel model to explain miRNA function. Nicole’s broad ranging biological interests are reflected in her publications, covering topics such as cancer, schizophrenia, malaria, stem cells, genome biology, and bioinformatics.
Professor Ryan Lister completed his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Genetics at The University of Western Australia (UWA) in 2000, and undertook his Ph.D. studies in plant mitochondrial biogenesis at UWA from 2001-2005. After completing his PhD, Ryan was awarded a Human Frontiers Science Program Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2006 to undertake his postdoctoral studies in Joseph Ecker’s laboratory at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, where his research focused on studying the epigenome, the molecular code superimposed upon the genome that plays important roles in regulating the information contained in the underlying DNA sequence. He developed new high-throughput DNA sequencing methodologies to profile the transcriptome and epigenome, including the first RNA-sequencing approach and whole genome bisulfite sequencing. This allowed, for the first time, the precise mapping of sites of DNA methylation throughout an entire genome. Ryan returned to Perth in 2012 to establish his own research group, and is currently a Sylvia and Charles Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellow and head of the Epigenetics and Genomics laboratory at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and UWA. His research has yielded new insights into the composition and function of the epigenome in a variety of systems, including the first integrated maps of the epigenome and transcriptome in a eukaryote, generation of the first human DNA methylomes, identification of epigenomic memory in human induced pluripotent stem cells, and discovery of widespread epigenome reconfiguration during brain development.