Our early career researchers
Dr Benjamin Mayne
Project title: DNA Ageing: Rapid epigenetic age estimation for animals
Benjamin Mayne is molecular biologist/bioinformatician with expertise in epigenetics and next generation sequencing. Benjamin’s PhD research focused on DNA methylation an epigenetic modification, known for its regulation of gene expression and association with aging.
Dr Haylea Miller
Project title: eCells: Developing novel ways to estimate animal abundance
Haylea Miller is a Postdoctoral Fellow in CSIRO’s Environomics Future Science Platform. She is a microbiologist/molecular biologist with expertise in fresh water management, biofilms, microbial ecology and brain-eating amoebae.
Her project “eCells: Developing novel ways to estimate animal abundance” will develop an alternative non-invasive methodology to estimate animal abundance based on the capture of whole cells shed by the animals naturally into the water (termed environmental cells or “eCells”), eliminating the need to directly sample and impact the animals. If successful, this method could replace conventional invasive techniques widely used in both biodiversity and fisheries management.
Dr Flavia Tarquinio
Project Lead: Restoring seagrass meadows with the help of microbes
Flavia is a marine biologist and researcher diver specialised in marine microbial ecology. Her PhD research focused on the role of epiphytic prokaryotes in seagrass meadows.
Dr Luana Lins
Project Lead: What bug is that? Mobile DNA sequencing in your pocket
Luana is interested in the evolution and diversity of organisms and she is currently excited about the use of cutting-edge technology to make molecular species identification accessible outside of the lab. Her research interests include the use of molecular techniques to answer questions about genomic basis of adaptation to polar environments, the timeframe of colonization of different environments and to investigating the factors that affect evolutionary rates. Luana received her PhD in Biological Sciences from The University of Sydney in 2015, where she focused on the molecular phylogeny of isopods. Her previous training in Brazil was on taxonomy and systematics of crustaceans.
Dr Elise Furlan
Dr. Elise Furlan is a post-doctoral research fellow in molecular ecology based at the University of Canberra. With over 15 years’ experience in molecular genetics, Elise was one of the first researchers in Australia to develop techniques to analyse environmental DNA (eDNA). She was instrumental in the creation of eDNA facilities at the University of Canberra which, combined with a trace DNA laboratory, enable high-sensitivity eDNA detection while minimizing contamination. Her capabilities in this field are evidenced with over 12 eDNA-related publications in internationally recognized, peer-reviewed journals.
Elise’s eDNA research focuses predominately on detection of aquatic species from freshwater samples. She has used a single-species approach to inform of the presence or absence of native and invasive species, and has employed metabarcoding to detect the presence of multiple species simultaneously. Elise has applied this approach to determine the diet composition of various species and to detect biodiversity at a site and is currently working on techniques to improve estimates of species rank abundance.
Elise completed a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and PhD in Genetics at the University of Melbourne.
Dr Renee Catullo
Renee an evolutionary biologist interested in using big data to answer questions in macroevolution and macroecology. Her research combines genetic, ecological, and trait data across broad geographic scales. Renee’s project aims to use these tools improve our ability to make informed decisions about Australia’s biodiversity and conservation needs, and to help make information-based decisions for improving our biosecurity.
Renee completed a Bachelor of Science at Oregon State University, and a PhD in evolutionary biology at the Australian National University.
Dr Xin-Yi Chua
Xin-Yi is a post-doctoral research fellow in CSIRO’s Environomics Future Science Platform. She is a bioinformatician/computational biologist who is motivated by the need to reduce the now apparent gap between “-omic” data generation and analysis. Xin-Yi is now exploring analytical and visualisation methods to help make sense of the deluge of data, leading to eco- and biologically meaningful and insightful outcomes. She received her doctorate from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) for her work in applying machine learning and comparative genomic approaches to enhance the predictions of transcriptional regulatory interactions, to better understand microbial pathogenesis. Her previous experience was with QFAB delivering bioinformatics services and skilling up bench biologists through bioinformatics workshops.
Dr Liz Milla
Project Lead: Pollen DNA Metabarcoding
Liz Milla is a postdoctoral fellow with the Environomics FSP Mapping Pollinator Networks project. Liz’s current research uses ecological and genomic tools to reveal interactions between plants and their insect pollinators. Her research on pollinator networks will contribute to biodiversity identification and help detect keystone plant and insect species for targeted conservation and management strategies.
Liz joined CSIRO in September, 2018. She has a BSc degree in computer science from Deakin University, and worked for several years as a database and software developer. Liz later obtained a BBiolSc degree in conservation biology from La Trobe University, followed by a PhD in molecular phylogenetics and ecology at the University of Melbourne. For her PhD thesis, Liz researched the evolution and ecology of Heliozelidae, a family of small moths that includes the obligate pollinators of some species of the plant genus Boronia (Rutaceae). Prior to commencing at CSIRO, Liz worked from 2011-2018 as a computational biologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne.
Dr Eric Raes
Project Lead: Using microbes to estimate the health of estuaries
Eric Raes finished his PhD in Biological Oceanography at the University of Western Australia. His previous research focused on micro algal biofuel production and recently he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Alfred Wegener Institute for polar and marine science in Germany. Currently he is employed as a postdoctoral fellow at CSIRO. His research interests are focused on the questions which encompass how insights in the microbial diversity can be used to predict changes in the functional ecosystem processes they catalyse, both now and under a future climate. During his work and research, he fostered a multidisciplinary approach that allowed him to synthesize and bridge links between the fields of microbiology, biogeochemistry, and marine ecology in coastal and open oceanic environments ranging from tropical to temperate and arctic environments.
Dr Xiao Deng
Dr Deng has been studying the mechanisms of microbial electron uptake from solids, such as iron and electrodes, which are important for the understanding of microbially induced corrosion, intercellular interactions, and microbial energy acquisition processes.
She is specifically interested in sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), given their antiquity in the evolutionary history and the ubiquity in the environment. She is also investigating the formation of nanoparticles by SRB and the role that they play in affecting cell physiology. She will apply this knowledge to understanding how microbes acquire energy in nutrient-poor environments.
Dr Samuel Andrew
Project Lead: Estimating the adaptive capacity of plant species with transcriptome and phenotypic traits
Dr Samuel Andrew’s Postdoctoral Fellowship as part of the Environomics FSP and the Environmental Futures team aims to explore how genomic and phenotypic variation can be used to explain the range of climates plant species occupy. The ability to identify species that are near their temperature limits will mean targeted and proactive conservation management can help to protect these vulnerable species. The project will use transcriptomics to quantify genomic variation and the response of plants to extreme weather events.
Dr Andrew received his PhD from Macquarie University where he used population genetics and evolutionary genomics to study the introduction of the house sparrow to Australia and how this highly successful climate generalist, has adapted to novel Australian environments. After finishing his PhD he travelled to the University of Helsinki in Finland on an Endeavour Fellowship. There he was part of Craig Primmer’s group and contributed to a large project studying maturation timing in Atlantic salmon.
Dr Kristen Karsh
Project title: Tools for managing ocean nutrient pollution
Kristen Karsh is a postdoctoral fellow with the Environomics FSP Microbes in Healthy Waterways project. Kristen’s current research tests potential molecular and chemical proxies of bacterial nitrogen cycling. Through mechanistic laboratory studies and in situ sampling, she examines correlations between process rates (e.g. denitrification), and bacterial community composition, functional gene abundance, organic carbon bioavailability, and isotopic fractionation in organic nitrogen and dissolved nitrate. Kristen collaborates with biogeochemical modellers to improve the functioning of bacterial nitrogen processes in CSIRO’s core ecosystem models and to integrate the environomic and isotopic measures she and others develop.
Kristen (re-)joined CSIRO in March 2018. She has a BSc degree in geology & geophysics from Yale University, a MSc in marine and Antarctic studies from the University of Tasmania, and a PhD in biogeochemistry awarded through a joint program between the University of Tasmania and Princeton University. From her base at CSIRO during her PhD, Kristen researched how environmental conditions and the physiological state of microalgae influenced fractionation of the nitrogen and oxygen isotopes of nitrate. The research both improved interpretation of nitrate isotopes in the Southern Ocean and other marine environments, and revealed an unexpected role for nitrate within the microalgal cell.