I am a senior research officer in the Systems Genomics lab at the Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute (Melbourne, Australia) and also a visiting researcher at the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Monash University Central Clinical School (Melbourne, Australia), and the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath (UK).
My research interests have always been broad and revolve around the ecology and evolution of host-associated bacteria in a general sense, whether humans, plants or animals. I study different levels of these host-pathogen/host-bacterial interactions, mainly with a microbial population biology and metagenomics angle. I’m interested in how ecology impacts on microbial evolution, how infectious pathogens can emerge from background asymptomatically-carried populations, how microbes jump hosts and transmit between them and how functional communities assemble in complex microbial environments.
One of my focus is to understand the impact of host factors (ecology, physiology, immunity) on the evolution and adaptation of the bacterial species they carry. Prior to moving to Australia, I have been interested in how intensive agriculture and the domestication of livestock could have an impact on the microbes/pathogens they carry, on their evolution, ecology and virulence to humans and animals. Since moving to Australia, I have incorporated metagenomics and more generally large-scale multi-omics approaches in human clinical cohorts to my research. I have been interested in maximising the detection in microbial metagenomes of informative features to be used in various downstream applications (GWAS, MWAS, ML-based approaches, etc).
Unrelated to science, I take great interest in art, especially paintings from around 1860-1950. The header images of this website are details from three paintings that I particularly like, and picked to naively (but beautifully) represent the various host and environments of some microbes that I have worked on in the past:
- Humans, birds & the sea: Edward Hopper, The “Martha McKeen” of Wellfleet, 1944 (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid).
- Humans & plants: Joaquín Sorolla, Sewing the Sail, 1896 (Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Italy).
- Soil & roots: Egon Schiele, Setting Sun, 1913 (Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria).
(My current secret mission in Australia is to visit all National Galleries in every state and territory — only QLD and TAS left!)
Thank you for visiting!