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Our team

Learn more about our diverse, dynamic team and their research interests.

Research Scientists

Dr Jonathan Anderson
Team leader: Rhizoctonia Resistant Crops

Jonathan uses genomics and genetics to improve the resistance of crops plants to soil-borne necrotrophic pathogens. He also investigates the biology of fungal pathogens to design strategies to reduce susceptibility of crop plants where traditional resistance breeding is not possible. His main focus is on Rhizoctonia bare patch disease of cereals and legumes.

Google Scholar: mD70cjcAAAAJ Researcher ID: A-7244-2008 ORCID: 0000-0002-4783-5393

Dr Rhonda Foley
Senior research scientist

Rhonda is a plant molecular biologist who is currently involved in identifying new genetic material in wheat to provide resistance against economically important fungal pathogens.  Rhonda is also involved in strategies to improve lupin in a bid to make this crop a dominant figure in agriculture sustainability, feed and food.

ResearcherID: G-6716-2012

Dr Lingling Gao
Team Leader: Genetic Solutions to Crop Pests

ResearcherID: A-1432-2010

  Dr Donald Gardiner
Team leader: Pathogenomics

My group focuses on molecular mechanisms of virulence of Fusarium species of fungi that infect cereal crops. These pathogens are particularly nasty as they produce toxins during infection that contaminate food and feed products. By understanding virulence mechanisms we hope to be able to understand processes of host susceptibility better to ultimately inform design of crop protection strategies.

Google Scholar: pkJfWvQAAAAJ Researcher ID: A-1297-2010

Dr Gagan Garg
Experimental scientist

Gagan is working on large scale genomic studies ranging from plant pathogens to complex crop systems. He is exploring genomic data to investigate the genetic diversity of complex plant systems. He also studies the plant pathogen interactions and mechanisms used by the pathogens to cause disease and manipulate the hosts’ responses.

Google Scholar: 0FoDjjIAAAAJ Researcher ID: A-8248-2015

Dr Lars Kamphuis
Research scientist

Google Scholar: reGu3xEAAAAJ Researcher ID: B-5360-2011 ORCID: 0000-0002-9042-0513

Dr Kemal Kazan
Group leader: Protection from Pathogens & Pests

Google Scholar: rnwaEtcAAAAJ Researcher ID: B-8032-2008 ORCID: 0000-0002-5169-8934

Dr Chunji Liu
Research scientist

Chunji received his PhD in wheat genome mapping from the University of Cambridge, which was followed by a postdoc working on various millet species at the John Innes Centre, UK. He joined CSIRO in 1993. His current research activities are mainly on disease resistance and genome structures and evolution.

Researcher ID: B-5243-2009

Dr Karam Singh
Cluster Leader

Karam is interested in both fundamental and applied science, and how these can benefit Australian agriculture. He has made a number of pioneering contributions to the analysis of plant gene regulation.  He has also developed major research programs on plant responses to pests (aphids) and pathogens (soil-borne necrotrophic fungi), and crop genomics with a focus on legumes (lupins and chickpea).  Karam’s research has an excellent international profile as demonstrated by his group’s participation in major international research consortia such as those coordinated by the EU and NSF. Karam holds a joint position (50:50) between CSIRO and Curtin University. He joined Curtin University in October 2016 as Co-Director of the Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM), a joint venture between Curtin and the Grains Research and Development Cooperation (GRDC).

Researcher ID: C-3235-2012

  Dr Louise Thatcher
Team Leader: Break Crop Genomics With a Focus on Diseases

Louise’s research focuses on two complementary crop protection themes: genetic strategies for host resistance and novel biological control strategies using Actinobacteria. She applies these to necrotrophic fungal pathogens of break crops (those that kill host plants), predominantly Fusarium and Sclerotinia species. She received her BSc and PhD in molecular biology and microbiology from the University of Western Australia, followed by two Postdoctoral Fellowships (2007-2013) within CSIRO Plant Industry focusing on pathogenicity mechanisms of Fusarium wilt members, host resistance and the roles of jasmonate signalling.

Google Scholar: vKv-7vkAAAAJ Researcher ID: A-1302-2010 ORCID: 0000-0001-7622-6610

Post-doctoral fellows and students

Karen Frick
PhD student

Karen completed her B.Sc. at Murdoch University and her Honours Degree at The University of Western Australia (UWA). She continued her studies at UWA, and is a current PhD student in the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, based at CSIRO. Her research concerns the biosynthesis and accumulation of toxic alkaloids in narrow-leafed lupin, a major legume crop. The research areas for this project include genetics and genomics, molecular biology and plant physiology.

Researcher ID: C-5306-2016

Dr Silke Jacques
Postdoctoral fellow

Silke obtained her Masters and PhD at Ghent University in Belgium, where she adapted gel-free proteomics technologies used in cancer disease models and applied these to plants under oxidative stress. Afterwards, she was appointed as a Junior Professor at the Ghent University Global Campus in Songdo, South-Korea. Here, she taught Virology and was responsible for the practical courses of Microbiology for the Bachelors in Bioscience Engineering and was involved in the start-up of a functional research lab, focusing on marine bioactives to stimulate plant growth. Finally, she joined CSIRO as an OCE-postdoctoral fellow in the Molecular Plant Pathology and Crop Genomics Laboratory in Perth. This postdoc revolves around plant-pathogen interactions, more specifically between legumes and aphids. She mainly develops reverse genetics methodologies focusing both on the plant and aphid side of the interaction to identify key genes and pathways responsible for aphid resistance.

Google Scholar: 99e51FsAAAAJ

Dr Brendan Kidd
Postdoctoral fellow

Brendan completed his PhD at CSIRO and the University of Queensland in 2011 where he studied subunits of the plant transcriptional co-activator complex called Mediator and investigated their involvement in regulating plant defense. He continued this work at the University of Queensland with an ARC Discovery Project on the Plant Mediator complex before joining the CSIRO Breakthrough Genetic Technologies lab in Perth as an OCE postdoctoral fellow in 2014. In this project Brendan identified plant defense signalling pathways in Arabidopsis thaliana and Medicago truncatula that are responsible for resistance to adapted and non-adapted Rhizoctonia solani isolates. Brendan was awarded a CSIRO Future Science Platform Synthetic Biology Fellowship in 2017 to develop novel transcriptional regulators and synthetic logic gates for more precise control of gene expression in plants. This project is a collaboration between CSIRO and Prof. Ryan Lister’s lab at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at the University of Western Australia.

Google Scholar: rEjHFiUAAAAJ

Dr Jana Sperschneider
Postdoctoral fellow

Jana completed a M.Sc. in Computer Science with a focus on Bioinformatics at the University of Freiburg, Germany. In 2008, she commenced a Ph.D. at the University of Western Australia in which she developed novel methods for the computational prediction of non-coding RNA structure. In 2012, Jana joined CSIRO as an OCE Postdoctoral Fellow to work on plant pathogenomics. She works closely with Jen Taylor and Peter Dodds as well as the CSIRO Plant Pathology and Crop Genomics group in Perth. Her current research interests are the computational prediction of effectors and their localization using machine learning, comparative pathogenomics and host-pathogen coevolution. She has a strong interest in the relationships between molecule structure and function as well as the role of non-coding RNA in host-pathogen interactions. Jana has released several software tools for effector prediction using machine learning as well as for RNA structure prediction.

Google Scholar: NoNZc0MAAAAJ

Candy Taylor
PhD student


Technical support

Hayley Casarotto
Research assistant

Natalie Fletcher
Research assistant

Nick Pain
Research assistant

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