ASM - Victoria

Committee Members

Committee Catherine Satzke 

A/Professor Catherine Satzke | Chair
Murdoch Children's Research Institute
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I discovered the hidden world of microbes at high school, and have loved microbiology ever since. I have been a member of ASM for nearly 20 years (!), having joined as an Honours student in the Robins-Browne laboratory. ASM has supported my professional development as a student, ECR and now leader of my own laboratory. I am delighted to be the Chair of ASM Vic Branch, and look forward to serving you and the other members of our Branch. My lab is based at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, and I also hold honorary appointments with The University of Melbourne. Our research focuses on pneumococcal microbiology; examining the impact of pneumococcal vaccines in low-income settings to support global vaccination strategies. We are fortunate to partner with microbiologists, clinicians, epidemiologists and immunologists from both high and low-income settings; collaboration is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job! I recently co-chaired the International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases, attracting over 1100 delegates from 85 countries. Our research is supported by national and international funders, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and by fellowships from the NHMRC and veski.

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A/Professor Karena Waller | Immediate Past Chair | Teaching and Learning
Peter Doherty Institute | University of Melbourne
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Karena holds a PhD (2001; Monash University) in malaria research, and possesses over 10 years’ post-doctoral research experience. Since joining the University of Melbourne’s academic teaching staff (2010), Karena has completed the Graduate Certificate in University Teaching (2011; University of Melbourne) and has contributed significantly to the teaching and learning of microbiology, both locally and nationally. Karena’s excellence and innovation in teaching and learning has been rewarded with locally and nationally competitive prizes. She possesses extensive leadership experience in teaching and learning and sits on numerous University and Institute committees, primarily focusing on improving teaching and learning, improving the student experience and student engagement, academic governance and professional development. She is a member of the Australian Society for Microbiology; she was Victorian Branch Chair (2014-2018) and is current Chair of both the ASM Education Special Interest Group (2017-2019) and organizing committee for ASM’s 2020 Scientific Meeting (2018-2020). Karena has published numerous biomedical and educational research/SoTL articles in peer-reviewed journals.

  Committee Sarah Baines

Sarah Baines | Secretary | Student Affairs
Peter Doherty Institute | University of Melbourne
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I am a PhD student with the Dept. of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Melbourne, based at the Doherty Institute for Infection & Immunity. My primary research interests are in microbial genomics, specifically its application to understanding the emergence and development of antibiotic resistant lineages of Staphylococcus aureus in Australia and New Zealand. In conjunction with this, I am also involved with the Doherty Applied Microbial Genomics group, working on multiple projects centered around investigating mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in staphylococcal and enterococcal species, as well as exploring recent outbreaks of gastrointestinal yersiniosis in New Zealand.

  Committee Christine Seers

Dr Christine Seers | Treasurer
Melbourne Dental School | University of Melbourne
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I graduated from Monash University in 1987 with a BSc(Hons) degree with a 4th year major in microbiology. My honours research involved analysing the acquisition of antimicrobial resistance genes by Staphylococcus aureus isolates from the Royal Children’s Hospital. The most remarkable thing about this is that I had planned to major in chemistry – until I had attended a lecture about of all things, sewerage. Rather than thinking ee-eeww, I found I was incredibly impressed that such teeny, weeny things as bacteria could perform all those amazing chemical reactions, in such organised communities, to give a nice clean product at the end. I was hooked. I began, and still pursue my academic career at the Melbourne Dental School, The University of Melbourne, where I have been involved in projects improving our understanding of the oral microbiota and approaches to understand and prevent associated oral diseases such as caries and periodontitis. I have been a member of the ASM Vic Branch Committee since 2011, Secretary of Vic Branch 2015-2019 and from March 2019 I take on the role of Treasurer.

  Committee Mary Valcanis

Mary Valcanis | Deputy Chair | Public Health
Peter Doherty Institute | University of Melbourne
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I am the Section Leader for Enteric Reference Laboratory at the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory, Doherty Institute. I am responsible for the provision of scientific supervision and delivery of scientific services for the characterisation of bacteria typically of enteric origin.

  Committee Jake Lacey

Dr Jake Lacey | Assistant Secretary
Peter Doherty Institute | University of Melbourne
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I work as a post-doctoral researcher for Associate Professor Steven Tong at The Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. The focus of my research is to understand the microbial genomics and transmission dynamics of skin pathogens Staphylococcus and Streptococcus within rural indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. I completed my PhD at Monash University and the CSIRO within the Poultry CRC, were I was introduced to microbial bioinformatics, which has now become my passion and research area of choice. I am a new member of the ASM Victorian Branch Committee and I look forward to contributing to this already amazing society.

  Committee Christopher Stubenrauch

Dr Christopher Stubenrauch | Assistant Treasurer | Website Administrator
Biomedicine Discovery Institute | Monash University
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I am an Early Career Researcher in the Lithgow Laboratory at Monash University, which is part of the Infection and Immunity Program in the Biomedicine Discovery Institute. My fascination with Microbiology started way back in high school when we were allowed to take a swab of anything in the school and attempt to incubate it on an agar plate: naturally, I chose the school canteen and boy was it disgusting... it didn’t stop me from going though. I received first class Honours from Professor Julian Rood’s laboratory characterising regulatory genes from conjugative plasmids of Clostridium perfringens. I also received the 2017 CSL Prize as the top completing Microbiology PhD student for my work in Professor Trevor Lithgow’s laboratory, where I developed a radiolabelling pulse chase assay to determine the precise mechanistic details surrounding outer membrane protein biogenesis in the model bacterium Escherichia coli. My current work focuses on protein folding mechanisms and antimicrobial resistance pathways. I have been a member of the Australian Society for Microbiology since 2017 and joined the Victorian Branch Committee in 2019. I’m looking forward to giving back to the microbiology community as part of the One Health Working Group.

  Committee Jacqueline Heath

Dr Jacqueline Heath | Communications and Marketing
Oral Heatlh CRC | University of Melbourne
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I am an Early Career Researcher in the Scholz Research Group of the Reynolds Laboratory within the Oral Health CRC at the Melbourne Dental School and Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne. I discovered my fascination for tiny yet powerful microbes during my undergraduate degree. During my PhD I investigated the novel type IX bacterial protein secretion system and its importance in the ability of the oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis to export virulence factors and affect the human immune response. My current research program centres around investigating oral mucosal immunity, specifically the tailored innate immune responses of mucosal epithelia to bacterial pathogens and commensals, and how pathogens attempt to disrupt homeostatic cytokine signalling pathways to dysregulate host immunity. I have been a member of the ASM Vic Branch Committee since 2016 and have relished the opportunity to give back to the broader microbiology community.

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A/Professor Priscilla Johanesen | Teaching and Learning
Biomedicine Discovery Institute | Monash University
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Associate Professor Priscilla Johanesen is Head of Teaching and Learning in the Department of Microbiology and Director of the Biomedical Discovery Institute Graduate Program at Monash University. She has a long involvement in supporting early career researchers, including playing a lead role in the development of a skills-based approach for the Monash doctoral training program.

  Committee Seema Kanade

Seema Kanade | Clinical and Diagnostics
Dorevitch Pathology
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I work as a senior scientist and second in charge of the Microbiology Laboratory at Dorevitch Pathology Main Lab. I started my career in microbiology as a lab assistant in New Zealand. I worked for a small community lab in Auckland where I developed a passion for microbiology. As my qualifications from India were not recognised, I joined AUT and completed my Bachelor’s degree of Medical Laboratory Science in 2007. I moved to Australia in 2011 and since then I've been working for Dorevitch Pathology. I enjoy microbiology as it requires a degree of expertise to deliver fast and reliable result to doctors. I'm also passionate about learning and that is what I thrive on. I take pride in my achievement of working at a Senior level for the majority of my working career. I have been a member of the ASM Victorian Branch Committee for several years as part of the Clinical and Diagnostics Group.

  Committee Maria Liaskos

A/Professor Maria Liaskos | Host-Microbe Interactions
La Trobe University
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My fascination with microbes began during my undergraduate studies at the University of Melbourne, where I was introduced to the multitude of mechanisms used by bacteria to cause disease by numerous ASM members. I became an ASM member in 2003 when I was a PhD student in Professor Richard Strugnell’s laboratory, and I have been a member of the ASM Vic Branch Committee since 2018. I am currently a Senior Lecturer and Group Leader at La Trobe University, and Deputy Director of the La Trobe Research Centre for Extracellular Vesicles. My lab is based at La Trobe and I hold an adjunct appointment at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research. My lab primarily focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions with particular focus on Helicobacter pylori and bacterial membrane vesicles. Our research is supported by national and international funding agencies, including the NHMRC, ARC and DAAD in addition to an Inspiring Women Fellowship from veski.

  Committee Louise Miles

Louise Miles | Newsletter Editor
Alfred Health
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I am a Medical Laboratory Scientist at The Alfred Hospital in the bacteriology lab. I have worked in microbiology for the past 5 years and have loved finding rare and interesting pathogens. I first became involved in the ASM when I nervously presented a case of Microsporidosis at “News from the Hospitals” a few years ago, to which I won a one year membership to ASM. I'm looking forward to being a part of the ASM Victorian Branch Committee, within the Medical Microbiology Working Group, and bringing you more exciting clinical based case studies, talks and workshops.

  Committee Steve Petrovski

Dr Steve Petrovksi | Environmental
La Trobe University
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I am a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Microbiology at La Trobe University. I currently teach microbial genetics to second and third year students majoring in microbiology. My research interest is in mobile genetic elements that include transposons, plasmids and bacteriophages. Currently we have active projects in understanding the mechanism of transposition of elements that belong to the Tn5053/Tn402 family and their interaction with broad host range plasmids. These elements are thought to contribute to the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance among gram-negative bacteria. Another active project is the isolation and characterisation of bacteriophages that infect bacteria in the clinical and environmental settings and ways in which they can be used or manipulated in phage therapy. I joined the ASM Vic branch committee in 2018 and am the working group leader of the “One Health” sub-committee.

  Committee Lauren Zavan

Lauren Zavan | VSP Coordinator | Student Affairs
La Trobe University
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I am a PhD student in Dr Maria Liaskos’ laboratory at La Trobe University. Our lab’s research interests are focused on understanding host pathogen interactions, and my PhD project aims to investigate the biogenesis and functions of bacterial membrane vesicles. While completing my undergrad degree I was unaware of what a career in research was like however, during my honours year I grew fond of the unexpectedness and variety that comes with exploring new areas of microbiology. I joined the ASM Vic Branch committee in 2018 and I have recently taken on the role of VSP Coordinator.