Researcher biography

I completed my PhD in 2013 and I am currently a Senior Research Fellow and the Managing Director of the Soils of Science (S4S) Program at the University of Queensland. I am recognised as an emerging leader in antibiotic biodiscovery research. I have multidisciplinary research skills and expertise spanning the fields of organic chemistry and microbiology. I have made a significant contribution to the field of microbial biodiscovery employing high-throughput, high efficiency, natural product discovery to explore the chemical and biological properties of natural products produced by Australian marine and terrestrial microbes. I have identified and evaluated >40 new drugs targeting infectious diseases that attracted >$3M in research funding. I have led multi-year projects with industry, targeting animal health (ELANCO) and crop (NEXGEN Plants) and microbial chemical diversity (Microbial Screening Technologies; BioAustralis). I am a co-inventor on a UQ pending patent application documenting a new soil microbiome-inspired crop protection agent. This invention has attracted industry investment (NEXGEN Plants), to establish its potential, ahead of licensing and commercialisation. Therefore, I have co-led a project with industrial partner NEXGEN Plants, to investigate a new natural product that activates innate plant immunity defences against significant pathogens (patent pending). Since 2015, I have established the antibiotic biodiscovery capability at IMB targeting multidrug resistant (MDR) human pathogens and developed new approaches that have had significant knowledge impact in the antibiotic development and host defence research areas directed to combat MDR pathogens. This has resulted in the establishment of the Biodiscovery@UQ facility, a university-wide networking initiative designed to support excellence in biodiscovery research across UQ. I have secured funding from UQ to develop a new antitubercular drug lead (CIA), an ARC Linkage grant (LP19, CIB) to develop new anthelmintics and a grant from the University de La Frontera (collaborator), Chile to discover new antibiotics from Antarctic microbes, Marine CRC fund (CIA) to map the chemical diversity in Australian marine microbes and ARC LIEF grant. I co-led THE FIRST citizen science initiative, S4S, including developing the APP, website and running regional public workshops, with the aim of increasing public awareness about the role of soil microbes in antibiotic discovery. This initiative has attracted ~$1M in institutional and philanthropic support.