Ian Paulsen

CENTRE DIRECTOR
MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY

Professor Paulsen leads a microbial genomics group, and has particular expertise in the areas of metagenomics, transcriptomics, membrane transport, and bacterial drug resistance. He is a Distinguished Professor at Macquarie University and Deputy Director of the Macquarie Biomolecular Frontiers Centre. Prof Paulsen is an ARC Laureate Fellow and an ISI Highly Cited Researcher with more than 265 publications and a H-index of 111. Over the last five years he has attracted over 18 million dollars of competitive grant funding. He received a PhD from Monash University and was an NHMRC C.J. Martin Fellow at the University of California at San Diego. He became a faculty member at the Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), where he led many microbial genome sequencing projects. He returned to Australia in 2007 as a Professor at Macquarie University and received a Life Science Research Award from the NSW Office of Science and Medical Research. He is the founder and Director of the Synthetic Biology Laboratory at Macquarie University and is directing the Australian node of Yeast 2.0, an international consortium to construct synthetic yeast. 


Aleksandra Filipovska

Deputy Director
The University of Western Australia

Prof Aleksandra Filipovska is a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Professor. She received her PhD in 2002 from the University of Otago, New Zealand. From 2003-2005 she was a NZ Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Fellow at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge, the United Kingdom. In 2006, she relocated to Australia as a NHMRC Howard Florey Fellow and established her research group at the Perkins Institute of Medical Research at the University of Western Australia. She was an Australian Research Council Future Fellow until 2014 and since 2014 she has been a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and a Professor at UWA and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. Prof Filipovska has been awarded >10 million dollars in research funding in the last 10 years from the Australian Research Council the NHMRC, Cancer Council WA, Mito Foundation and Diabetes Australia. She has won numerous awards including the Australian Academy of Sciences Ruth Gani award, the Merck Medal and The Genetics Society of AustralAsia Ross Crozier Medal. Prof Filipovska holds several patents and is actively involved in the commercialisation of research. One of her patents has recently been licenced for treatment of diseases. Prof Filipovska’s research interests are in the regulation of gene expression by RNA-binding proteins and the use of transcriptomic technologies to elucidate their molecular functions in health and disease. Her research group uses genomic technologies and synthetic biology to design new models of disease, microbes, develop therapeutics, pharmaceuticals and antibiotics. As a Deputy Director in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology, she will use her managerial and administrative skills to oversee the strategic direction and management of the Centre. Together with the Centre Director, she leads the three themes within the CoESB and will drive Theme 2 on organelles, and specifically contribute to the study of mitochondria and their organisation to identify modes of improved mitochondrial function and develop new commodities produced by these organelles. In addition, she will contribute to Theme 3 through her experience in metabolism to develop new pathways for energy production. Prof Filipovska is passionate about gender equality and supporting early and mid-career researchers and in the Centre she will promote the recruitment and support of EMCRs and female synthetic biologists to continue driving the innovation, collaboration and competitive strengths of our research programs. Email: aleksandra.filipovska@uwa.edu.au and aleksandra.filipovska@perkins.edu.au


Brett Neilan

The University of Newcastle

Professor Brett Neilan is Professor and Global Innovation Chair in Biotechnology at the University of Newcastle. Prof Neilan is a molecular biologist and an expert in the study of natural product genomics. He obtained his PhD in microbial and molecular biology from UNSW in 1995. Prior to his PhD training, he obtained a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Biomedical Science (1985) at the University of Technology, Sydney and then worked as a medical researcher, hospital scientist and forensic biologist. His postdoctoral position as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship in Berlin was on non-ribosomal peptide biosynthesis genetics. The continuation of this early work and a NASA internship at Stanford University has become the basis for current studies regarding the search for microbial natural products in extreme environments. The main topic of his work is the genetics of toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), leading to an understanding of the biochemical pathways that are responsible for the production of toxins in our water supplies. He has 300 publications, with an H-index of 75, and 9 patents. The research has been awarded three Australian Museum Eureka Prizes and the Australian Academy of Science Fenner Medal for studies in the Biological Sciences. He specialises on the synthetic biology and genomics of microbes. The Neilan lab focuses on the discovery and production of high-value bacterial metabolites for biomedical and industrial applications, including antimicrobials, anesthetics and analgesics, food preservatives, and biological UV filters. Prof Neilan will investigate the mechanisms responsible for the complex biosynthesis of a range of bioactive compounds to inform design and manufacturing a photosynthetic bioreactors. Prof Neilan will lead the University of Newcastle node and Theme 1 Synthetic Microbial Communities. His team will develop microbial communities and metabolic pathways for the utilisation of farm waste, including recaclcitrant chemicals, and production of valuable organic compounds. The Newcastle team will also contribute to Theme 3 Neobiochemistry and Capability 2 Industrial Translation for scaling novel microbial processes. Email: Brett.neilan@newcastle.edu.au


Lars Nielsen

The University of Queensland

Prof Nielsen is Professor and Chair of Biological Engineering at The University of Queensland, Senior Group Leader at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology AIBN), and Chief Scientific Officer and Scientific Director at the Novo Nordisk Center for Biosustainability, DTU, Denmark. He is a Director of the Queensland Bioplatforms Australia Node, which provides systems and synthetic biology support to design and build cell factories for the production of fuels, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. His core research interest is modelling of cellular metabolism and his team has made many contributions to the formulation and use of genome scale models. He recently received a Novo Nordisk Foundation Laureate Research Grant to develop large scale, mathematical models to explore and explain the molecular basis for homeostasis – the self-regulating processes evolved to maintain metabolic equilibrium. Studying homeostasis is relevant for the understanding and treatment of complex diseases, particular with the emergence of personalized medicine. It is equally important when we seek to repurpose the cellular machinery for the production of desired chemicals, materials and pharmaceuticals. Prof Nielsen will lead the Systems Bioengineering capability in CoESB focusing on developing the data infrastructure necessary to capture data from testing, combine with the existing knowledgebase, assess progress against design objectives and guide subsequent designs. This will include expanding the knowledgebase architecture and design language presently used in conventional metabolic engineering to accommodate specification of Theme 1 Synthetic Microbial Communities, Theme 2 Synthetic Organelles and Theme 3 Neobiochemistry. Further, high-level designs have to be reduced to practice and used to instruct the CAD/CAM systems underpinning our Biofoundries. Prof Nielsen will also work on developing Bayesian learning models to guide optimal


Rachel Parker

University of Queensland

Professor Rachel Parker at UQ is a chief investigator of the CoESB. Her publications appear in leading international journals in the field including Economic Geography, Regional Studies, Industrial and Corporate Change, Environment and Planning A, Organization Studies, Political Studies, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice and Work, Employment and Society. Her top ten publications are in the top ten percent most influential journals in the field (SCOPUS). Her research has been funded through seven ARC Grants (including 3 ARC Discovery Grants as lead Chief Investigator). In addition to academic publications, her research has been published in the Australia Higher Education Supplement and The Conversation. In 2018, Prh Parker was a member of the social sciences panel for the ARC Research Engagement and Impact assessment exercise. In 2015, she was invited to appear as an expert witness before the Senate Economic References Committee inquiry into Australia’s innovation system. She has contributed to university research leadership for ten years as Assistant Dean (Research) QUT Business School and Dean Research Development, Division Research and Commercialisation at QUT. She is currently Director Centre METS Business Innovation, funded by the Queensland Government and Mining3. Prof Parker’s research analyses how economic power and economic interests drive industry development and change around new technologies and the role that government plays in coordinating the development of new industries for collective benefit. She is involved in the Industry Translation Capability 2 and Social Sciences Capability 3. Email:r.parker@uq.edu.au


Michael Gillings

Macquarie University

Distinguished Professor Michael Gillings is an evolutionary biologist with broad ranging interests, including: the genetic diversity of bacterial, plant and animal populations; the interaction of the microbiota with animal and plant hosts; the assembly and maintenance of genomic architecture; the dynamics of mobile DNA elements; experimental evolution; the effects of human activities on the biosphere, particularly with regard to antibiotic resistance and antibiotic pollution; and the unpredictability of ecosystem services precipitated by the new era of the Anthropocene. He is involved in Theme 3 Neobiochemistry; particularly prospecting for new genetic functions and the construction of artificial microbial communities and in Capability 3 – Social Dimensions; a long term goal is to establish bridges between the sciences and humanities, reuniting the ‘Two Cultures’ of human achievement. The goals and activities of the Centre will be incorporated into all his teaching, and particularly in the first year unit Human Biology, which has over 1000 students with the hope that the activities of the Centre will excite and enthuse students of the next generation. Email: michael.gillings@mq.edu.au


Lawrence Lee

The University of New South Wales

Dr Lawrence Lee received his PhD from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney in 2008 before undertaking a postdoctoral position in the Structural and Computational Biology Division at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Following this he moved to his current position at as a UNSW Scientia Research Fellow and Group Leader at the EMBL Node for Single Molecule Science in the School of Medical Sciences at the University of New South Wales. Dr Lee’s research is focussed on understanding how many molecules can self-organise into complex living systems, and on harnessing these principles to construct new nanoscale technologies that build themselves. Dr Lee’s is involved in Theme 1 Synthetic Microbial Communities and Theme 3 Neobiochemistry.
Email: lawrence.lee@unsw.edu.au


Claudia Vickers

University of Queensland/ CSIRO

ProfessorVickers is Director of the Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform at CSIRO, Australia’s national research agency. Her early research interests spanned crop plant engineering, plant physiology, abiotic stress and the metabolic regulation of volatile isoprenoids.

Over the last decade, she has focussed on metabolicregulation of isoprenoids in plants and microbes, and on developing synthetic biology tools for rational re-engineering of microbial metabolism for production of isoprenoids. Isoprenoids (terpenes) are a large group of natural products with many biological functions and diverse industrial applications. Since 2017 Professor Vickers has led the CSIRO SynBioFSP, a highly collaborative $60 million R&D program aimed at expanding Australia’s synthetic biology capability and ultimately developing a national synthetic biology-based industry. She was founding President of Synthetic Biology Australia and is on the Executive of the International Society for Terpenoids (TERPNET). She served on the expert working groups for Australia’s national synthetic biology  roadmap (delivered by the Australian Council of Learned Academies) and the Australian government NCRIS Synthetic Biology Infrastructure Investment Plan; and is a Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Fellow. She serves on editorial boards for eight international journals, including as a handing editor for ACS Synthetic Biology and ASM mSystems. She has Adjunct Professor roles at Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University.

Email: claudia.vickers@csiro.au


Oliver Rackham

Curtin University

Professor Oliver Rackham gained his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Otago, New Zealand. In 2003 Oliver relocated to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK, as an MRC Career Development Fellow, working with Professor Jason Chin on re-engineering the genetic code. Oliver established his own group at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in 2006, focused on engineering and understanding gene expression. Oliver’s research has been influential in shaping the field of synthetic biology and in exploring the role of RNA in controlling mitochondrial function and organism physiology. His work has been described as one of the “seminal achievements for synthetic biology” (Faculty of 1000) and resulted in his induction into the European Inventor Hall of Fame in 2013. Oliver is currently an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Professor at Curtin University. Professor Rackham‘s research falls into two areas of interest: engineering and understanding mammalian gene expression, and synthetic biology using microbial model organisms. His work focuses on developing new tools and therapeutics to target cancer, mitochondrial diseases and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. He is involved in Theme 2 Synthetic Organelles as Leader, and also in Theme 3 Neobiochemistry and Capability 1 Systems Bioengineering. Email: oliver.rackham@curtin.edu.au


Ian O’Hara

Queensland University of Technology

Professor Ian O’Hara is a Principal Research Fellow specialising in industrial biotechnology and bioprocess engineering at Queensland University of Technology. His research interest includes biofuels and bioenergy, biorefining and bioproducts, process engineering, scale-up and techno-economic assessment of new technologies.  In 2016, he was appointed by the Queensland Government as the Queensland Biofutures Industry Envoy. As the Envoy, Prof O’Hara provides strategic advice to government and assists in securing domestic and international investment within the Biofutures sector.  His filed cover research in the development of synthetic biology industry and markets, and pathways to industry development through systems assessment, economic feasibility and scale up demonstration of technologies. He is involved in Capability 3 Industrial translation. Email: i.ohara@qut.edu.au


Robert Speight

Queensland University of Technology

Robert Speight is Professor of Microbial Biotechnology at QUT. Research in his group is focused on the development and engineering of enzymes and microbial systems for industrial applications. He is the Industrial Biotechnology and Synthetic Biology lead in the Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy in the Institute for Future Environments and Vice President of the Synthetic Biology Australasia society. His background spans the intersection of research and industry and he was formerly a founder and senior manager of the successful UK industrial biotech company, Ingenza Ltd. Prof Speight’s current research has a strong circular economy focus and looks towards generating new processes for manufacturing chemicals, materials and new livestock feed supplements. These projects also aim to recycle, process and add value to wastes or low value co-products from the agriculture and textile industries in particular. His research involves teams of researchers from science, engineering, design, law and business working with industry partners and other stakeholders. He is involved in Theme 3 Neobiochemistry and Capability 2 Industrial Translation.
Email: robert.speight@qut.edu.au


Esteban Marcellin

The University of Queensland

Dr Esteban Marcellin is a Group Leader at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland. He is co-director of the Bioplatforms Australia’s Queensland nodes of Metabolomics and Proteomics Australia, providing systems biology services to design cells. He received his PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Queensland in 2010. Research at the Marcellin group aims at capitalising on the opportunity to integrate systems biology and synthetic biology strategies to develop high performance strains through rational designs, guided via computational models aiming at programming biology. Motivated by an ever increasing need to transition production of industrial chemicals and fuels to renewable feedstock is relevant to address many of the environmental problems that our planet is facing. The transition requires the development of high-performance microbial cell factories, equivalent to chemical plants that can participate in a circular economy. To achieve economically viable bioprocesses, which can compete with established infrastructure, market acceptance and regulatory hurdles and given that feedstock availability and price has the largest impact on cost competitiveness, the Marcellin group uses waste resources as feedstock. All waste resources (MSW, Agricultural waste or industrial waste) have in common that they can be gasified. This offers a unique opportunity to use greenhouse gases as fermentation feedstock. Gas fermentation offers numerous advantages for producing sustainable fuels and chemicals from waste streams. Dr Marcellin will be involved in Capability 1, Systems Bioengineering capability to support Theme 1 Synthetic Microbial Communities.
Email: e.marcellin@uq.edu.au


Kirill Alexandrov

Queensland University of Technology

Professor Kirill Alexandrov obtained his Master’s degree in Invertebrate Zoology at the Leningrad State University, Russia in 1989 and completed his PhD in Cell Biology at EMBL Heidelberg, Germany in 1995. He went on to postgraduate work at the Department of Physical Biochemistry at the Max-Planck Institute in Dortmund, Germany, and remained with the Institute for 12 years, becoming a group leader in 1999. He co-founded the German biotechnology company JenaBioscience in 1998 and the UK/Australian SynBio company MW Diagnostics Ltd (former Molecular Warehouse Ltd) in 2015. He joined the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Biotechnology of the University of Queensland, Australia in 2008 as an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. In 2018 he joined Queensland University of Technology as CSIRO-QUT Inaugural Professor of Synthetic Biology. His group is interested in protein engineering of artificial sensing and signal transduction and two-way connectivity between biology and electronics. Prof Alexandrov’s research areas include protein engineering, protein biosynthesis, biosensors and point of care diagnostics. He is involved in Theme 1 Synthetic Microbial Communities, Theme 3 Neobiochemistry (as theme leader) and in protein engineering capabilities.
Email: kirill.alexandrov@qut.edu.au


Nicki Packer

Macquarie University

Distinguished Professor Nicolle (Nicki) Packer has had an extensive and varied research career in both Chemistry and Biological Sciences. She helped establish the Australian Proteome Analysis Facility (APAF) and co-founded Proteome Systems Ltd, a biotechnology company in which her group developed (glyco)proteomic analytical technology and informatics tools. She has gained national and international recognition for her research in glycomics, using proteomics and bioinformatics approaches and linking it to biological functional research. Nicki has published her research extensively and works closely with industry. She currently holds joint positions as a Distinguished Professor of Glycoproteomics, Director of the MQ Biomolecular Discovery & Design Research Centre, Discovery Leader in the ARC Centre of NanoScale BioPhotonics and Interim Director of APAF at Macquarie University, Sydney, and as Professor of Glycomics at the Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland. Her other achievements include producing three reasonably well-balanced children. Her current research is in the structure, function, informatics and application of glycans and their protein conjugates as molecular targets, focussing on their role in therapeutics and microbial interactions. Her scientific involvement in the CoESB is in the Systems Bioengineering Capability 1 for both state-of-the-art proteomics and glycomics analyses which will be used in Theme 2 in the development of an artificial Golgi and in Theme 3 for precision remodelling of co-cultured microbial cell surfaces. Her CNBP ARC CoE Leadership experience will also be invaluable for this CoESB in many administrative domains. Email id: nicki.packer@mq.edu.au


Wendy Rogers

Macquarie University

Professor Wendy Rogers is Professor of Clinical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Clinical Medicine, and Deputy Director of the Macquarie University Research Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics. Professor Rogers received her medical degree, philosophy degree and PhD from Flinders University in South Australia and was awarded an NMHRC Sidney Sax Fellowship for research into the ethics of evidence based medicine. Following her post-doc, she established and led the medical ethics teaching at Flinders University, receiving a Young Tall Poppy Science Award in 2004. In 2009 she moved to Macquarie University to set up multidisciplinary research projects in bioethics. She held an ARC Future Fellowship from 2014-18. Her research covers a broad range of topics in bioethics, including responsible research and research ethics, ethics of innovative practice, organ donation, philosophy of medicine and conflicts of interest in research and practice. She is involved in Social Dimensions which is Capability 3 of the CoESB. Professor Rogers will lead the research into ethical issues encountered in the engineering and deployment of synthetic microbes, including responsible innovation, industry-researcher relations and social justice issues. She also received the 2019 NHMRC Ethics award and was named Australia’s field leader in bioethics research in the 2019 research review by The Australian. Email: wendy.rogers@mq.edu.au


Josh Wodak

Western Sydney University

Dr Josh Wodak works at the intersection of the Environmental Humanities and Science & Technology Studies. His research addresses the socio-cultural dimensions of the climate crisis and the Anthropocene, with a focus on the ethics and efficacy of conservation through technoscience, including Synthetic Biology, Assisted Evolution, and Climate Engineering.

He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University; a Chief Investigator at the ARC Centre for Excellence in Synthetic Biology; and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Biological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences, UNSW.

Originally trained in Anthropology (University of Sydney, 2002, and Australian National University, 2011) his publications have appeared in Humanities; Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities; Environmental Communication; Transformations: Journal of Media, Culture and Technology; Music and Arts in Action; Unlikely: Journal for Creative Arts; and Futures; and in edited volumes on the rhetoric of climate communication; the aesthetics of the undersea; transformative pedagogies about the environment and environmental history. His creative outputs include music, artworks, and installations that have been exhibited in art galleries, museums, and festivals across Australia and internationally.

Before joining the ICS in 2020, he was a Lecturer at UNSW Art & Design; a Chief Investigator on the ARC Discovery Project ‘Understanding Australia in The Age of Humans: Localising the Anthropocene’; and a Key Researcher of the Andrew Mellon Australia-Pacific Observatory in Environmental Humanities, Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney.

He is currently completing a book about what kinds of conservation experimentation we should be considering in response to the unfolding Sixth Extinction Event.

Email: J.Wodak@westernsydney.edu.au