Verlaine Timms (She/Her)


I am a senior research fellow in Microbial Genomics at the University of Newcastle where I investigate secondary metabolism and antimicrobial resistance in bacteria. My expertise in microbial genomics and evolution, helps to improve the management of both useful bacteria and those that are pathogenic to humans. I've used genomics to investigate antibiotic resistance and virulence evolution of multiple infectious disease outbreaks including SARS-CoV-2, Legionnaire's disease, pertussis, diphtheriae and VRE. During Australia’s early COVID-19 response, I was in the NSW genome sequencing team that reported weekly to NSW Health and nationally. My research is translated through my roles as deputy lead of the infection, environment and host theme of the Immune Health Program for the Hunter Medical Research Institute, deputy chair of the Newcastle (NuBUGs) and previously the Westmead bioinformatics users’ groups. I have advised at a National level on multiple working groups for the Communicable Disease Genomics Network and the NSW Ministry of Health. My research collaborations include groups in all states through the public health network of Australia and across NSW universities, governments and the health sector. I have sat on expert state committees and collaborated with international researchers (New Zealand, UK and the USA) on microbial genomics related projects. Since moving to the University of Newcastle in 2021, I have forged research collaborations with researchers from the Hunter Medical Research Institute on microbial secondary metabolism and microbial resistance. All my projects have required high performance computing, usually institution owned such as the University of Sydney and Newcastle’s respective High Performance Clusters or the National Computing Cluster’s Gadi.
Topics of expertise:
microbiology microbial genomics genome sequencing bioinformatics phylogenetics


Outreach Keywords:
Scientists in schools


Research skills

I have been a research microbiologist for over 25 years working across academia and government in Australia and the UK. My research has spanned human and animal gut microbiomes and health (Helicobacter pylori, bovine Johne's disease), pathogens with epidemic potential (Sars-CoV-2, legionellosis, pertussis) and now blue-green algae and microbial ecology (environmental antimicrobial resistance).

Laboratory skills

I have supervised and managed projects on molecular biology and microbiology in PC2 laboratories in the UK and Australia.

Education or training skills

I have taught undergraduate and supervised postgraduate students for the last 10 years. In 2020, I developed two postgraduate courses on Pathogen Genomics for the University of Sydney.

Management or supervision skills

Supervised five postgraduate students and currently manage the microbial communities team in the Neilan lab at the University of Newcastle.

Project management skills

Finance management and grant funding.

Bioinformatics skills

A range of bioinformatics expertise from genome mining, phylogenetics, variant calling, genome assembly, mapping and pan genome analysis.

Grant writing skills

Grant writing for a range of the major schemes (NHMRC, ARC), plus government (NSW Health)


  • PhD or Doctor of Medicine
    Medical Microbiology from University of New South Wales
Other Details
  • Lab Membership Organisation: Brett Neilan (UN)
  • Research Theme: Microbial Communities
  • Research Capability: Systems Bioengineering,Industrial Translation