Parasitology Research Group

Meet the team

Academic Staff

 

Associate Professor Alan Lymbery

Associate Professor Alan Lymbery

Alan teaches parasitology and genetics in the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences. He has a wide range of research interests, all concerned in some fashion with the conservation of our unique environmental heritage. This includes topics as diverse as the effects of climate change on animal dispersal, the resilience of freshwater ecosystems to increasing salinity and the threats posed by invasive species. In the field of parasitology Alan is currently working on the importance of parasites (both native and introduced) in the ecology of freshwater fishes, and in the role that parasites play in the translocation of terrestrial native mammals, such as woylies. For more information about his fish research, you can go to our freshwater fish website (www.freshwaterfishgroup.com).

Professor Andrew Thompson

Emeritus Professor Andrew Thompson

Andrew heads the Parasitology Section in the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Murdoch University. He joined Murdoch after obtaining his PhD from Imperial College in London and teaching at the University of Leeds in the UK. He is a recent past President of the Australian Society for Parasitology. He has over 30 years experience in basic and applied parasitology. He was awarded a personal Chair in Parasitology at Murdoch University in 1994, the Bancroft-Mackerras Medal of the Australian Society for Parasitology in 1991, in 2005 the World Association for Advancement in Veterinary Parasitology, Bayer Research Achievement Award, Murdoch University’s, Research Achievement Award, in 2007 Murdoch University’s Research Achievement Award and the Vice-Chancellors Research Student Supervision Award in 2008. He has made major contributions to our understanding of the biology, taxonomy and life-cycles of Echinococcus, Giardia, Cryptosporidium and other parasite zoonoses; and is a lead investigator in a major research programme of drug discovery against neglected diseases in Africa and South America. He is a Visiting Professor of Parasitology in the Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Council Member of the Australian Society for Parasitology, Chair of the Board of Native Animal Rescue, a member of Perth Zoo’s Research Committee and DPaW’s Woylie Recovery team.

 

Postdoctoral Staff

 Dr Amanda Ash

Dr Amanda Ash

Amanda completed a BSc with Honours in Animal Science at La Trobe University, Melbourne in 2006. Her honours degree investigated parasite infections within captive animals at Singapore Zoological Gardens and Night Safari. From this Amanda developed an intense interest in the world of parasites, particularly within wild animals. In pursuit of this interest Amanda made the move to the west and completed a PhD in Veterinary Parasitology here at Murdoch University. Her PhD investigated parasite infections within captive and wild populations of the African painted dog – an endangered carnivore of Africa – and involved trekking through the field in Africa in search of samples, and later analysing these in the lab using both traditional microscopy and molecular techniques.

Amanda is now managing a parasite diagnostic service within the parasitology department which caters for both commercial and research clients from the veterinary and medical professions.

Adriana Botero Gomez

Dr Adriana Botero Gomez

Adriana Botero is a biologist from Colombia. During her honours year she characterized the genetics and biology of two clones of Trypanosoma cruzi group I and II. She has worked as a research assistant in the Chagas disease laboratory at the Antioquia University in Medellin, Colombia and joined the parasitology group at Murdoch University in 2009. Adriana initially worked as a research assistant in the drug discovery project, screening the activity of new compounds against T. cruzi, T. brucei and Leishmania “in vitro” and “in vivo" however she soon commenced as a PhD student investigating the genetic diversity of Australian trypanosomes and their potential role in the decline of a formerly abundant marsupial that is now critically endangered, the woylie. The results contributed valuable information towards directing management decisions for endangered species where these parasites are known to be present at high prevalence levels. In addition valuable new knowledge about the evolutionary biology and relationship that Australian trypanosomes have to the exotic and pathogenic Trypanosoma cruzi was uncovered. Adriana graduated with her PhD in February 2015 and has taken up a Post Doctoral position with the Murdoch Parasitology research group.

Dr Stephanie Godfrey

Dr Stephanie Godfrey

Stephanie joined the Parasitology Section in 2012, moving over from Flinders University where she did her undergraduate and post-graduate studies. Stephanie’s research interests involve two main disciplines within ecology; behavioural ecology and host-parasite ecology. The question that lies at the centre of most of her research asks how animal behaviour influences parasite transmission in wildlife populations. However, as a part of this, she is also interested in animal behaviour, social organisation and the ecology of host-parasite interactions. She specialises in the use of social network models to describe patterns of contact within host populations, and how they may influence parasite transmission. See her website for more information about her current research, and opportunities for prospective honours and PhD students.

 

Technical Staff

 Aileen Elliot

Aileen Elliot

Aileen has been a stalwart of the Parasitology section since 1989 providing support for teaching, the Section’s diagnostics service, and research. Aileen’s legendary expertise as a microscopist is a major strength for the Section often rivalling results from PCR! Aileen has also run parasitology diagnostic workshops at Murdoch and overseas, as well as providing training to research students. Aileen maintains the Section’s museum, database and reference collection.

 

 Louise Pallant

Louise Pallant

Louise trained as a Medical Laboratory Scientific Officer in Clinical Biochemistry in the UK. She started working at Murdoch University in 2004 in the Clinical Pathology labs of the Veterinary Clinic. She soon transferred to a research role with the Parasitology group where she had the opportunity to travel to remote areas of the state, gain a wealth of experience and skills in Molecular and traditional parasitological techniques as well as a BSc (Biomedical sciences). In 2010 Louise took on the role of Technologist – Parasitology. She is now responsible for the production of teaching materials for three undergraduate parasitology units, the coordination of the teaching laboratories, supervision of the diagnostics service as well as research and administration support for the groups large and diverse research activities. Louise is also working towards completion of her own PhD studies.

 

Research Staff

 Sarah Keatley

Sarah Keatley

Sarah graduated with a BSc (Technology) from Waikato University, New Zealand in 2010. She spent some time working in a food production laboratory in New Zealand. She left her home country in 2011 to take up a position with Epichem here at Murdoch. Parasitology was so impressed with her work that we stole her from Epichem in 2012 when she took up a research assistant position in the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative. She has gained extensive experience in in vitro and in vivo techniques, microscopy and molecular applications. Since the start of 2014 Sarah has been working on an ARC Linkage project with DPaW collaboration on parasites of wildlife. She has quickly mastered trapping and field techniques and is currently applying her extensive laboratory skills to endangered wildlife disease.

PhD Students

 Amy Northover

Amy Northover

Amy Northover is a registered veterinary surgeon who holds a Masters degree in Conservation medicine. During her undergraduate and postgraduate training Amy has gained invaluable experience working with a variety of native and exotic wildlife species within Zoo's and wildlife sanctuaries across Australia. At the end of 2013, Amy's passion for wildlife conservation lead her back to Murdoch University to start a PhD project entitled "The ecology of parasite transmission in fauna translocations". In collaboration with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Amy will be investigating how fauna translocations impact the transmission of parasites in the critically endangered woylie (Bettongia penicillata). In addition to her studies, Amy is on the committee of the Turtle Oblonga Rescue and Rehabilitation Network (TORRN), and continues her volunteer work at Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, where she contributes to the education, mentoring and training of other volunteers.

 

 Krista Jones

Krista Jones

Originally from the US, PhD student Krista Jones received both her DVM and MS in Ecology from the University of California, Davis. Together with collaborators at DPAW, Whiteman Park, and the AWC, her dissertation project will investigate factors influencing pathogen transmission in the critically endangered woylie, a small marsupial. She is thrilled to join such a supportive group and be able to combine her interests in conservation, wildlife behavior, and population health, while developing new skills in social network theory, disease modeling, and parasitology.

 

 Stephanie Hing

Stephanie Hing

Stephanie is a veterinarian and conservation scientist who is currently undertaking a PhD in the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences. Previously for her Masters research Steph carried out the first parasitological study on endangered Bornean elephants and highlighted how habitat loss and fragmentation may influence wildlife health. Now back in Australia, Stephanie is working with native species and hopes to be able to explore some of the underlying physiological and immunological mechanisms that mediate such changes. Her research interest is in animal health in the context of wildlife conservation. In particular, she is interested in how common threats to wildlife (such as introduced predators, access to resources, habitat loss and fragmentation) constitute stressors and how this stress might affect the health and survival of endangered species. Her areas of research are multidisciplinary including parasitology, immunology and endocrinology.

 

 Catherine Perez

Catherine Perez

Catherine graduated from Murdoch with a BSc (Molecular Biology and Biomedical Science) and a BForensics (Forensic Biology and Toxicology) in 2008. She gained significant research laboratory experience with Delia Nelson at Curtin University before joining the Parasitology group at Murdoch in 2011. Catherine was initially employed as research assistant on the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, however she quickly demonstrated outstanding laboratory management abilities and was given responsibility for running the day-to-day laboratory operations. As well as running the Drug Screening program, in 2012 Catherine took up a part time enrolment in a PhD Investigating Phenotypic differences across strains of Trypanosoma cruzi. Since the beginning of 2014 Catherine has taken up her PhD work fulltime.

 

 Crystal Cooper

Crystal Cooper

Crystal graduated with a BSc (Microbiology) from UWA and spent the next five years travelling the world. Recently Crystal completed a Master of Biological Science studying acoelomate flatworms recently discovered at Rottnest Island. She is currently studying the biology, life history and cell invasion processes of trypanosome parasites in Australian Wildlife for her PhD. Crystal splits her research activities between the Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis at UWA and the Parasitology research laboratories here at Murdoch.

 

 Judy Dunlop

Judy Dunlop

Judy completed her undergraduate degree and honours in Zoology at UWA. This does not qualify her to be a zookeeper, as many of her mum's friends think, but instead allowed her to work on a variety of very interesting projects for the Department of Environment and Conservation for 7 years. After gaining this practical industry experience in conservation, she decided to further her research qualifications and do a PhD. The other parasitologists in the group call her "host focused" but Judy maintains that she works on "proper animals". Her PhD is examining the factors affecting the success of fauna translocations, including the movement of parasites to the new establishment site. Her study species are Boodies and Golden Bandicoots (these are mammals).

 

 Alison Hillman

Alison Hillman

Alison graduated from Murdoch veterinary school in 2005, and worked in mixed practice in Australia and the UK for over four years, with a 3 month stint as a volunteer on a veterinary anti-rabies project in Sikkim, India. Subsequently, Alison pursued her long-held interest in zoonotic disease, completing a MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College/ London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where her dissertation focused on the subclinical circulation of Avian Influenza in domestic poultry in the European Union. Her thesis at Murdoch will take a ‘One Health’ approach to investigating the epidemiology of the parasites Toxoplasma and Giardia in ‘urban adaptor’ wildlife and domestic pets in Perth and surrounds, using spatial and regression analytical modelling techniques.

 

 Fran Jones

Fran Jones

Proteomics of protozoan parasites is the research focus for Francesca M. Jones, specifically the phenotypic characterisation of canine Giardia infections, as a recipient of an industry scholarship with Proteomics International. Through this opportunity Fran is learning molecular epidemiology and proteomic techniques, whilst developing new research skills and contributing to scientific advances in Western Australia.

Fran has been enrolled as a PhD student in the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences since 2010. Previous to her GREAT life at Murdoch University, she has enjoyed a diverse range of work and study opportunities including environmental education, sustainable development and natural resources management.

 

 

Daniel Squire

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 Amanda Worth

Amanda Worth

Amanda started her PhD at Murdoch University in 2011, after completing her undergraduate degree in Zoology and Biochemistry at UWA. During her honours project at UWA she investigated Fairy-wren ecology and this included some behavioural studies. She soon realised that animal behaviour was one of her main scientific interests, along with conservation of native Australian animals. These interests have come together nicely in her PhD – part of her work at Murdoch will be to study whether Toxoplasma affects the behaviour of the woylie; a native marsupial that is now threatened due to recent population declines.

 

 

Shuting Pan

Shuting started her PhD studies in 2007 and is supported by an ARC research project. Her research is focusing on Toxoplasma gondii in Western Australia and supervised by Professor Andrew Thompson and A. Prof Alan Lymbery. Prior to her PhD study, Shuting had been working as a research technician for various organisations, including the Plant Molecular Biology Research Laboratory of Murdoch University (2004-2007) and CSIRO Plant Industry (2001-2004).

 Recent PhD Completions

 

Craig-Thompson.jpg

Craig Thompson

Craig studied his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Andy Thompson and graduated in February 2015.  His thesis examined the reproductive biology , trypanosome identification and spatial, temporal and transmission dynamics of trypanosome infections, with relation to health of woylie (Bettongia penicillata).  Before joining the Parasitology group at Murdoch in 2010, Craig studied at the University of Queensland in the late 1990’s, during which time the university still had a Department of Parasitology. There, he studied the parasites of marine animals under the supervision of Prof. Bob Lester. During the 10 years between Honours and his PhD, Craig worked in the aquaculture industry and also as a quarantine consultant travelling around the world.

 

Wan Hon Koh

Honours Students