Plenary Speakers:


Murrell_ColinProf. Colin Murrell  |  Environmental Microbiology  |  Current International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) president, University of East Anglia, UK
Colin Murrell is Professor in Environmental Microbiology at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK and Director of the Earth and Life Systems Alliance (www.elsa.ac.uk) on the Norwich Research Park. His research encompasses physiology, biochemistry, molecular genetics, biotechnology and molecular ecology of bacteria that grow on methane and other C1 compounds, and the bacterial metabolism of the climate active gas isoprene for which he was recently awarded an ERC Advanced grant. His research over the past 35 years has resulted in ~300 publications and six edited books. Colin is President of the International Society for Microbial Ecology, a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation and Member of the European Academy of Microbiology. He serves on the Editorial Boards of Environmental Microbiology and The ISME Journal, and has Chaired Gordon Research Conferences on C1 Metabolism and Applied and Environmental Microbiology. For more information, see: www.jcmurrell.co.uk

WiedmannMartinProf. Martin Wiedmann 
|  Food Microbiology/Safety  |  Cornell University, USA
Martin received a veterinary degree and a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich in 1992 and 1994, and a Ph.D. in Food Science from Cornell in 1997. He currently is the Gellert Family Professor of Food Safety at Cornell. His research interests focus on farm-to-table microbial food quality and food safety and the application of molecular tools to study the biology and transmission of foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms. His team has published > 300 peer reviewed publications, which have been cited >10,000 times. He was a member of the Listeria Outbreak Working Group, which was honored by a USDA Secretary’s Award for Superior Service in 2000.  He also received the Young Scholars award from the American Dairy Science Association in 2002, the Samuel Cate Prescott Award from Institute of Food Technologists’ in 2003, the International Life Science Institute North America Future Leaders Award in 2004, and the American Meat Institute Foundation Scientific Achievement Award in 2011. He is a fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), and a member of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology. For more information, see: https://foodscience.cals.cornell.edu/people/martin-wiedmann



Prof. Joan W. Bennett  |  Fungal Genetics  |  Rutgers University USA
Joan W. Bennett is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Biology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA. She is trained as a fungal geneticist and during much of her career studied the genetics, biosynthesis and molecular biology of aflatoxin production, helping to establish the paradigm that fungal secondary metabolite genes are clustered.  In recent years her focus has been on the physiological effects of fungal volatile organic compounds (VOCs) using genetic models.  Professor Bennett is a past president of both the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology and the American Society for Microbiology, and is a past vice president of the British Mycological Society and the International Union of Microbiological Sciences.  Further, she has served as co-editor-in-chief of Advances in Applied Microbiology and editor-in-chief of Mycologia. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (USA) in 2005.



PatonJamesProf. James Paton  |  Infectious Disease/Immunology  |  University of Adelaide, Australia
James Paton obtained his PhD from the Department of Biochemistry, University of Adelaide, Australia in 1979, and spent 20 years at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, where he was Head of the Molecular Microbiology Unit. He took up the Chair of Microbiology at the University of Adelaide in 2000. In 2007, he was awarded one of the inaugural NHMRC Australia Fellowships, and was elected as a Fellow to the Australian Academy of Science in 2013. He is currently a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and Director of the University of Adelaide’s Research Centre for Infectious Diseases. For 35 years his research has been focused on the fundamental molecular events involved in the interactions between pathogenic bacteria and their hosts, with particular reference to Streptococcus pneumoniae. Early studies focused on identification and characterization of pneumococcal virulence proteins and investigation of their potential as non-serotype-dependent vaccine antigens. More recently, he has been investigating the influence of the host microenvironment on pneumococcal gene expression, and the impact of genetic diversity on virulence profile. Other research interests include Shiga toxigenic E. coli infections and the properties and applications of bacterial AB5 toxins. To date, he has published over 355 scientific papers and book chapters, which collectively have attracted over 23,500 citations.


allen-vercoe(2)Prof. Emma Allen-Vercoe  Human Microbiome  |  University of Guelph, Canada
Emma obtained her BSc (Hons) in biochemistry in 1993, and her PhD in molecular microbiology in 1999.   She has worked with a number of prominent pathogens during her graduate and postgraduate training, including Salmonella enterica, enterohemorrhagic E.coli and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  In 2001 she moved from the UK to Canada to undertake training in cell biology.  In 2006, Emma joined the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary, choosing to study the microbes of the human gut, at that time an emerging area of interest.  Specifically, she developed a model gut system (dubbed ‘Robogut’) to emulate the conditions of the human gut and allow communities of microbes to grow together, as they do naturally.  Emma moved her lab to the University of Guelph in 2007, and currently runs a lab of 11 people with projects that are broad in nature, but united under the banner of human microbiome research.


David Bourne Head ShotDr David Bourne  |  Molecular Microbial Ecology  |  Australian Institute of Marine Science 
David is a Senior Lecturer at James Cook University and a Principal Research Scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). His teaching and research is focused on the biology of coral reefs and the organisms that reside within these ecosystems. His training is in the area of molecular microbial ecology with his research focused on investigation of microbial diversity, structure and function in complex ecosystems. His research is divided essentially into two areas, the first investigating the normal microbial communities associated with corals and their functional roles in maintaining coral fitness. The second research focus is to elucidate pathogens and mechanism of disease onset in corals and the implications this has on a stressed reef ecosystem in light of climate change being a major driver of coral reef degradation. Current active projects combine use of amplicon sequencing, metagenomic sequencing and transcriptomic sequencing approaches with advance imaging and chemical analyses to address coral holobiont and coral disease questions. He is also actively engaged in citizen science programs, currently running an EarthWatch project assessing the recovery of reefs around Orpheus Island on the GBR.


StephenOnAssociate Professor Stephen On   |   Food Microbiology   |    Lincoln University    (NZMS Orator 2017)
Stephen On is an Associate Professor of Food Microbiology, and Associate Dean of Research, at Lincoln University. He has previously worked in Government research organisations in New Zealand, Denmark and the UK.  Stephen’s research interests have been fuelled by a keen interest in improved diagnostics (phenotypic and molecular) for emerging (and emerged) pathogens that may represent major human and animal disease burdens.  The volume of undiagnosed gastrointestinal illness remains a key driver for his research. He is Chairman of the ICSP (International) sub-committee on the taxonomy of Campylobacter and related bacteria, and convened the biennial International conference on these organisms in 2015. He has published over 140 papers, and contributed to various expert advisory groups at the request of the World Health Organisation, Ministry for Primary Industries and the World Bank-sponsored Global Food Safety Partnership.


Invited Speakers:

WalkerMarkProf. Mark Walker  |  Infectious Disease  |  University of Queensland, Australia
Professor Mark Walker undertook post-doctoral work at the German National Centre for Biotechnology from 1988-1991. Returning to Australia, he took up an academic position at the University of Wollongong, where he worked on various veterinary microbiology projects. Professor Walker moved to Brisbane in 2010 and is the Director of the Australian Infectious Disease Research Centre at the University of Queensland. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and a NHMRC Principal Research Fellow. His research focuses on the mechanism by which GAS causes disease, with the aim of developing vaccines and therapeutics.

Professor Walker’s visit is sponsored by         MauriceWilkinsLogo



Associate Prof. Frank Takken   |  University of Amsterdam and Scienza Biotechnologies
Frank Takken is Associate professor Molecular Plant Pathology at the University of Amsterdam (NL) and Scientific Advisor for the Biotech company Scienza Biotechnologies. He received his PhD in 1999 from the Free University of Amsterdam for his pioneering work on the isolation of Cladosporium fulvum resistance genes from tomato. Subsequently, he conducted research at the lab of Pierre de Wit (Wageningen University), a project in close collaboration with biotech company Keygene to identify immunity regulated genes and effector proteins.
He is interested in the arms race between plants and pathogens having a strong emphasis on molecular mechanism that control disease resistance. The important fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum is used as main model. His long-standing interest is NLR-type immune receptors; he was the first to demonstrate that they act as molecular switches. He was recently awarded a prestigious VICI grant (1.5 M€) to investigate how NLR proteins inflict DNA damage as part of the host response. Successful infection requires compatibility between plant and pathogen and his most recent research focuses on identification of host proteins targeted by pathogens and investigating how Fusarium as endophyte compromises invasion of pathogenic Fusarium strains. He (co)authored 60 papers and 5 patents in diverse fields of plant pathology by combining various techniques including genetics, molecular biology, proteomics, cell biology, biochemistry and biophysics.


HandleyKimDr Kim Handley  |  Environmental Microbiology  |  The University of Auckland, New Zealand
Kim Handley is a Royal Society of NZ Rutherford Discovery Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland, and an ISME junior ambassador. She received her PhD from the University of Manchester in 2008, and undertook postdoctoral work in labs at UC Berkeley and University of Chicago before taking up her current position in 2015. Her research focuses on understanding the lifestyles and interactions of uncultivated microorganisms in aqueous environments, for which she uses a range of omics approaches (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics). She has previously used these approaches to reconstruct the genomic (and metabolic) profiles of uncultivated bacteria and archaea in marine, terrestrial and built environments. Her current research centers on studying the microbial response to environmental perturbations, such as excess nutrient and carbon inputs in estuaries and streams.


Gerald-TannockProf. Gerald Tannock   |   Department of Microbiology and Immunology  |  University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Gerald Tannock is Emeritus Professor of the University of Otago, and Research Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. His research concerns the gut microbiota of humans, with particular emphasis on the formation of bacterial consortia in the bowel of infants, and during weaning. Prof Tannock is director of the University of Otago Research Theme Microbiome Otago, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NZ, and his book, Understanding the Gut Microbiota, was recently published by John Wiley & Sons




Dr Xochitl Morgan   |  Department of Microbiology and Immunology  |  University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Xochitl Morgan is Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. She received her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008, and worked as a research scientist at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health from  2011-2015. Her research combines systems biology, bioinformatics, and quantitative methods to understand the composition, metabolism, and population dynamics of microbial communities.  Her primary focus is on the contribution of the microbiota to human health and disease.



Prof. Paul Williams  |  Molecular Microbiology/Quorum Sensing  |  University of Nottingham, U.K.
Paul Williams is Professor of Molecular Microbiology in the School of Life Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham U.K. He graduated in pharmacy prior to a Ph.D in microbiology. From 1996-2008 he was Director of the Institute of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation and Head of the School of Molecular Medical Sciences (2008-2013). His research interests focus primarily on the regulation of gene expression in bacteria through cell-cell communication (quorum sensing) and the development of novel antibacterial agents and bacterial attachment resistant polymers. He has published over 330 research articles, reviews and patents.


CynthiaWhitchurchAssociate Professor Cynthia Whitchurch   | Microbial Imaging     University of Technology Sydney
Cynthia is a Research Group Leader in the ithree institute and founding Director of the Microbial Imaging Facility at University of Technology, Sydney. Her research investigates bacterial lifestyles and their roles in infection and antibiotic resistance, relying heavily on advanced microscopy techniques. Cynthia established the Microbial Imaging Facility at UTS and is recognized as a world-leader in the use of super-resolution microscopy techniques to study microbiology. Cynthia’s research has produced a number of important paradigm shifts in our understanding of bacterial lifestyles.