Professor Gene Tyson
Our Director Professor Gene Tyson is a world-leading microbial ecologist at the forefront in the development and application of culture-independent molecular approaches. Professor Tyson’s work has profoundly changed our understanding of microbiology, as demonstrated by a series of landmark papers (11 in Science and Nature). These discoveries were recognised with the Australian Society for Microbiology Frank Fenner Award (2015) and International Symposium on Microbial Ecology (ISME) Young Investigator Award (2016).
Dr Lauren Messer
Lauren is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow within our Microbiome research team, specialising in marine microbial ecology and host-microbe interactions. She is particularly interested in the role that microorganisms play in maintaining healthy and productive marine ecosystems, as ocean health is directly and indirectly linked to human health and well-being. Lauren completed her PhD within the Climate Change Cluster at the University of Technology Sydney, where she coupled biogeochemistry and molecular biology to provide insights into the structure and function of the microbial communities inhabiting Australia’s marine waters. In her current role, she is exploring the beneficial roles of the microbiome in supporting the health of reef-building corals, which are currently under threat from global climate change and other anthropogenic pressures.
Dr Ben Woodcroft
Ben is a leader in the development and application of bioinformatics techniques to studying biological ecosystems. Starting from a computational background at the University of Queensland, Ben’s interest in biological systems was sparked by an undergraduate project in protein structure, followed by an honours project in Prof. Bernie Degnan’s marine biology laboratory studying the genome structure of the most basal animals, sponges. He then completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne under the supervision of Dr. Stuart Ralph and Prof Terry Speed, where he specialised in the development and application of bioinformatic tools to understand malaria parasites. He continued his evolutionary trajectory by taking up a position at the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics with Prof. Gene Tyson, using metagenomic approaches to try to understand the carbon cycle in thawing permafrost, concentrating particularly on the role of methanogens in climate change. Ben is now our informatics team leader, where his areas of interest include metagenomics, metabolomics, soil meta-omics, methanogen biology and open-source software.
Dr Simon McIlroy
Simon is a microbial ecologist specialising in the development and application of methods for the visualisation and characterisation of microorganisms within their natural environment. Simon’s research has predominantly focused on wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), which are viewed by many as model systems in microbial ecology. This work has involved the identification of the core populations in these systems and their systematic characterisation for an in-depth understanding of their contribution to system function. He has designed and validated more than 60 fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) probes and was involved in the development of GenomeFISH, a novel technique to visualise microbial ecosystems. He was also involved in some of the first studies to close genomes binned from metagenomic datasets, using a combination of Illumina and Nanopore sequencing technologies.
Dr Allison McInnes
Allison has a unique combination of innovation and experience using flow cytometry in environmental microbiology, and extensive experience as a technician in a medical research flow cytometry core facility. She was awarded her PhD from Texas A&M University in 2014, where she focused on the functioning of marine microbial communities in biogeochemical cycles. During this time she was invited to Australia as an NSF/AAS Fellow. During her two post-doctoral positions, Allison has expanded her skill set to include the development and utilisation of novel probes for flow cytometry targeting mRNA, cellular metabolites, and membrane proteins in mixed microbial assemblages. She has worked for the past three years in a flow cytometry core facility where she has further honed her skills in the use of cutting-edge equipment.
Dr Philip Bond
Philip has diverse expertise in microbial ecology and function, which can be used to manipulate microbial communities for various purposes such as to improve the performance of an engineering process, for selective pathogen removal from water supplies, and to improve human health outcomes. Philip has pioneered the approach of metaproteomics to determine microbial function directly in engineered and natural environments. He first published use of the novel approach in 2004, and has made significant discoveries in wastewater biofilms and the marine sulfur cycle. At the Microbiome Research group, one of Philip’s main research activities is developing advanced methods of fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) for the detection of prokaryotes along with their plasmids and viruses. These methods are based on using whole genomes of bacteria and viruses and entire plasmids as probes and probe targets. Compared to traditional FISH (using ribosomal RNA based probes) the genome-based FISH has superior sensitivity and can achieve strain-level resolution of microorganisms. This advanced FISH method will be highly useful for determining microbial populations in a wide range of environments.
Isabelle studied at both the University of Queensland and Griffith University, with a focus on Biomedical Science as well as Forensic Science and Criminology. During her studies she worked as a Research Assistant in Sequencing at the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics (ACE), and went on to become the Assistant Sequencing Manager at ACE. Isabelle is now the Laboratory Coordinator for our Microbiome Research group, where she focuses on supporting the group’s researchers and ensuring the lab processes run smoothly.