Microbiology | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Microbiology research

This theme includes studies into several major bacterial and viral diseases in both humans and animals, as well the development of cutting-edge disease diagnostics, antimicrobial drugs and vaccines.

One major focus is the investigation of the important bacterial pathogen, Chlamydia, in humans, koalas, livestock and birds, involving basic pathogenesis, diagnostics and vaccine development. In addition, cutting edge research is aiming to develop smart diagnostic devices, including point of care diagnostics for a range of human viral and bacterial infections.

Another group is developing advanced genomics, transcriptomics, and bioinformatics approaches to characterise the microbiome of diseased airways and to detect antimicrobial resistance in several key human respiratory infections.

An important area of research involves investigating the pathogenesis and prevention of disease caused by Group A streptococcal infection, responsible for half a million deaths each year.

Finally, other research focuses on a genomic understanding of key diseases, the chemistry of key molecules involved in disease, as well as microbial ecology and environmental biotechnology.


The group also collaborates with key international networks and federations for microbial systematic and bacterial preservation for biotechnological exploitation and advancement.

Key researchers and research areas

Sharon Nyari
Dr Sharon Nyari
  • Chlamydial Disease
  • Vaccine Development
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Koalas
  • Koala Retrovirus (KoRV)
  • Molecular Characterisation
Dr Nina Pollak
Dr Nina Pollak
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Biosensors
  • Stem Cells
  • Diagnostic technology
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Bioremediation
Dr Martina Jelocnik
  • Veterinary microbiology
  • Molecular microbiology and epidemiology
  • Molecular epidemiology and comparative genomics of chlamydial species infecting human, livestock and wildlife hosts
  • Development of molecular diagnostic tests
  • Investigating zoonotic potential of chlamydiae
David McMillan
Dr David McMillan
  • Pathogenesis and prevention of Streptococcus pyogenes infections
  • Discovery of novel antibiotics
  • Hospital and Health acquired infections
Derek Sarovich
Dr Derek Sarovich
  • Bioinformatics
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Diagnostics
  • Microbiology
  • Next-generation sequencing
Dr Ipek Kurtboke
  • Microbial ecology, diversity and systematics
  • Applied and environmental microbiology and biotechnology and bioremediation
  • Bacteriophages and bacteriophage therapy
  • Industrial microbiology and biodiscovery
  • Waste management and bioconversion of waste into environmentally friendly bio-fertilizers
  • Biological control of plant pathogens
  • Marine and aquatic microbiology
Min Zhao
Dr Min Zhao
  • Bioinformatics
  • Disease genomics
  • Big data integration
Nicole Masters
Dr Nicole Masters
  • Water microbiology
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Biomedical science communication
Erin Price
Associate Professor Erin Price
  • Microbial (meta) genomics and (meta) transcriptomics
  • Respiratory infectious diseases (cystic fibrosis, chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease, COVID-19, bronchiectasis)
  • Microbiology
  • Real-time PCR diagnostics
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Bacterial pathogens
Senior Lecturer in Molecular Engineering Dr Joanne Macdonald.
Associate Professor Joanne Macdonald
  • Molecular engineering
  • Molecular computing and automata
  • Diagnostic technology
  • Virology and epidemiology
  • Biochemistry and drug development
  • Materials science and engineering
  • Biomedical and Health science
  • Water and environment
Dr Mohammad Katouli
Associate Professor Mohammad Katouli
  • Molecular pathogenesis of septicaemic and uropathogenic E. coli and the host response to infection
  • Interaction of microbial biotherapeutic with the human gut epithelium and the immune response.
  • Inhibitory effect of probiotics on bacterial translocation
  • Prevalence and persistence of antibiotic resistance genes in hospital, sewage and surface waters
  • Microbial source tracking and the impact of faecal pollution of surface waters on human health
  • Population structure of gut E. coli and their role in causing urinary tract infection
Peter Timms
Professor Peter Timms
  • Chlamydia
  • Genomics
  • Vaccine developments
  • Diagnostics
  • Molecular pathogenesis