Lab members

Group leader

Heroen Verbruggen
E-mail: — Twitter: @heroenv
PhD: Ghent University, 2005
My interests span the fields of algal evolution, microbial symbiosis, genome biology and bioinformatics. I love computational simulation as a tool to explore ideas and methods, and nerdy science stuff in general.

Postdoctoral researchers

Trevor Bringloe
E-mail: — Twitter: @TBringloe
PhD: University of New Brunswick, 2018
My research interests focus on Artic algal biodiversity and biogeography. I am using a combination of species distribution modelling and molecular phylogeography to understand current patterns (and predict future patterns) of population distribution and structure.
Cintia Iha
PhD: University of Sao Paulo, 2018
I work on algal genomics and bioinformatics, including the Ostreobium nuclear genome, chloroplast genome evolution and phylogenomics.


Xin Tian Mok, BSc honours student
I am studying how we can learn more about algal biodiversity through environmental sequencing and how knowledge from different marker genes can be compared in multi-marker metabarcoding.
Marisa Pasella, PhD candidate
MSc: Marche Polytechnic University, 2017
E-mail: — Twitter: @MarisaAlgae
My background is in algal ecophysiology. I am studying the photobiology of Ostreobium culture strains using a combination of physiological experiments, field work and comparative genomics.
Uthpala Pushpakumara, PhD candidate (with ANACC)
BSc/Hons: University of Sri Jayewardenepura, 2018
I have an interest in bacterial functions in ecosystems and have just started a PhD on algal-bacterial interactions.
Francesco Ricci, PhD candidate
MSc: University of Bologna, 2015
E-mail: — Twitter: @Fra_Ricci_
I investigate the micro-niches within the skeleton of scleractinian corals, using planar optode imaging to analyse their physicochemical properties and molecular techniques to characterise the associated microbiota.
Ryan Sauermann, BSc student
I have an interest in biochemistry of marine organisms and bioinformatics. I'm building my skillset by helping out with a few projects in the lab.
Kavitha Uthanumallian, PhD candidate
MSc: University of Madras, 2002
E-mail: — Twitter: @kavithaplastid
I am interested in molecular evolution, particularly how organismal traits correspond with patterns of selection and drift.
Alison Waskowicz, BSc student
I am interested in algal biodiversity and marine ecology. I'm expanding my skill set by helping out with some of the lab's current projects.
Dani Zaparenkov, MSc student in Bioinformatics
I have an interest in the environment and hope to use my skills to further the cause of conservation through a better understanding of nature. I am currently studying algal genomics.

Join the lab!

We are always on the lookout for outstanding scientists (emerging and more established) to join us and work on science together. As a general rule, we will be looking for people that are critical thinkers, are highly motivated to carry out quality science and have outstanding writing skills.

As a postdoc: Project-funded postdoc positions will be listed on the home page of the lab website and advertised through Twitter and jobRxiv. Please be aware that if there is nothing listed there, we do not have project-funded positions available. We are always keen on postdoc candidates to join the lab through fellowships. For recent PhD graduates, the University of Melbourne has a McKenzie fellowship program that aims to attract top people to Melbourne. For people with a few years of postdoc experience under their belt, the Australian Research Council has DECRA fellowships. Please be aware that both are immensely competitive and applications will take substantial time to prepare, so please get in touch several months before the deadline. We are also happy to host postdocs on overseas fellowships (e.g. Marie Curie). Please get in touch with Heroen for any queries.

As a PhD student: The University of Melbourne has an outstanding PhD program with candidatures typically 3.5 years and no coursework or qualifying exams. Admission to the PhD program is typically linked to winning a scholarship, of which there are some available to both domestic (APA, MRS) and international (IPRS, MIRS) students, and they also typically come with fee remission. You will not be surprised that these are highly competitive scholarships. The lab will occasionally advertise PhD positions to work on specific projects, but feel free to get in touch if you have an idea for a project that fits within the overall scope of the lab's work. If you are interested in applying for a PhD, please get in touch first with some ideas, your CV, a sample of your original writing (e.g. thesis, assignments) and your transcripts. For bioinformatics-oriented projects, please also send examples of code that you have written (e.g. link to your github).

As an MSc or Honours student: There are several two-year MSc programs available at the University of Melbourne, with MSc in BioSciences, MSc in Bioinformatics and MSc in Computational Biology probably those most relevant to the lab's research. The MSc BioSciences is a particularly interesting program in that it is quite flexible with coursework and has 50% research. The Honours program is a one-year BSc extension with 75% research. In Australia, the living allowance and tuition fees of MSc and honours students are not funded via projects.

As an undergrad student: We enjoy involving undergrad students in our research project. The university offers SCIE30001, which allows you to gain research experience during your BSc degree, but we also invite interested undergrads to participate in ongoing projects on a voluntary basis to expand their skillsets and expose them to science. Feel free to get in touch with anyone in the lab if you are keen to get involved.

Lab alumni

Monica Ly
Group member: 2019 (BSc)
Seraphya Berrin
Group member: 2013-2015 (MSc)
Guadalupe Bribiesca Contreras
Group member: 2015-2018 (PhD)
Margaret Brookes
Group member: 2014-2017 (BSc/Hons)
Joana Costa
Group member: 2013-2019 (PhD, research assistant)
Chiela Cremen
Group member: 2014-2018 (PhD)
Emilia Croce
Group member: 2017-2018 (visiting postdoc)
Pilar Diaz
Group member: 2014-2019 (postdoc)
Olivia Doyle
Group member: 2017-2018 (volunteer)
Cintia Iha
Group member: 2017 (visiting PhD student)
Samira Imran
Group member: 2017-2018 (MBiotech)
Chris Jackson
Group member: 2015-2018 (postdoc)
Marie Kinsey
Group member: 2015 (BSc)
Ming Fen Eileen Lee
Group member: 2018-2019 (BSc & volunteer)
Vanessa Rossetto Marcelino
Group member: 2011-2017 (MSc, PhD)
Maika Matsumoto
Group member: 2018 (intern)
Sam Old
Group member: 2016-2018 (MSc)
Sonja Repetti
Group member: 2018-2019 (BSc honours)
Lambros Stavrias
Group member: 2013-2014 (MSc)
James Tapa
Group member: 2018 (BSc)
Lennert Tyberghein
Group member: 2008-2012 (MSc, PhD)