Michael J. McDonald


 +61 03 9905 1697


Principal Investigator


Aysha Sezmis

Research Assistant


Ruzeen Patwa

Research Assistant


Laura Woods

Laura is interested in using experimental evolution and bioinformatics to describe the scope of horizontal gene transfer in different model organisms, the conditions under which it provides an adaptive benefit, and the properties of transferred DNA sequences. Originally from London, Ontario, Canada, Laura studied biology at the University of Western Ontario and bioinformatics at the University of Guelph prior to making her escape from the cold weather to embark upon her PhD journey at Monash University. When not experimenting in the lab, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen with varying degrees of success.

Jake Barber

Jake's PhD focuses on evolutionary dynamics in microorganisms, specifically how coevolution with other species impacts adaptation dynamics. After completing his undergraduate degree in Medical Sciences from Leeds University, he moved to his hometown Bristol University to study a Masters in Health Sciences, with a focus on microbiology. He worked as a Microbiologist in industry before making the trip down under in 2017. Outside of the lab he enjoys badminton, running and relaxing with a good (or bad) TV show.

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An Nguyen

Duhita Sant

Horizontal gene transfer is an important factor in microbial evolution, especially the evolution of antibiotic resistance. It is suggested that the spread of antibiotic resistance occurs faster via horizontal gene transfer than by vertical transmission alone. However, a major constraint on the spread of horizontally transferred genetic elements, especially between human pathogenic bacteria are still vague. 
As part of her study, An screens approximately 60,000 genetic variants from the clinical isolate of human pathogen Helicobacter pylori and detects genes that are known to cause resistance as well as discover a set of genes not previously associated with resistance. 

An obtained her Bachelor of Biotechnology engineering at the International University-HCM, National University-Vietnam, and studied a Masters of Biotechnology at The University of Queensland, Australia.

Duhita's work is focused on understanding the evolution of bacteriophages in the context of the microbiome. In particular, how the presence of multiple potential hosts shapes the evolution of host range (specialism and generalism) and infectivity of the bacteriophage at the molecular level and the dynamics of phage-bacteria coevolution. Her project involves extensive use of robotic liquid handler for her evolution experiments and high throughput sequencing techniques as well as microbiology approaches. Originally from Pune, India, she pursued master’s degree in Microbiology from University of Pune. Outside the lab, Duhita enjoys travelling and experiencing new places, listening to classical music, watching good TV shows and cooking at times.

Gareth Howells

2010 - present

2010 - present

Honours students:

Bronson O'Halloran

Lab Alumni:

Jasmyn Voss (Honours and Research Assistant

Shami Ramanan (Honours)

Trent Anderson (Honours)

Luke Nicholson (Honours)
Rebecca Tooze (3990 undergraduate research)

Emily Watts (3990 undergraduate research)

Imogen Scott (3990 undergraduate research)

Frank Taylor (Honours)
Thomas Brasher (3990 undergraduate research)

Jimmy Tanner (undergraduate volunteer)

Angel Liang (undergraduate volunteer)