GREENING LAB | ABOUT US
Established in 2016, the Greening Lab is based in the Department of Microbiology at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Melbourne, Australia. We are a diverse team of microbiologists, biochemists, ecologists, and bioinformaticians working together to understand the causes and consequences of bacterial persistence within a ‘one health’ framework.
Group Leader: Professor Chris Greening
Chris continues to be amazed on a daily basis by the ‘superpowers’ of bacteria. Coming from a working-class background, he completed a first-class degree in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry at the University of Oxford and undertook a doctorate at the University of Otago, New Zealand investigating the physiological roles of the hydrogenases in mycobacteria. He then gained postdoctoral and lecturing experience at the University of Otago, CSIRO, and Australian National University.
In 2016, he was appointed as a group leader in Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences and completed an environmentally-focused ARC DECRA Fellowship. In 2021, he moved to Monash’s Department of Microbiology to take up a medically-focused NHMRC EL2 Fellowship. Trained in the fields of biochemistry and microbiology, Chris also has experience in genetics, microbial ecology, and molecular evolution, and enjoys working across disciplines. He was awarded the prestigious Fenner Medal from the Australian Academy of Science in 2022. Away from the lab, he enjoys playing piano and saxophone, exploring Australia on his new bike, and getting taken for long walks by his two dogs.
Lab Manager: Tent (Thanavit) Jirapanjawat
Tent is the full-time research assistant, lab manager, and occasional dog-sitter for the Greening Lab. A graduate of the Australian National University, he did a BSc in Biology and an Honours in Chemistry. During Honours, under Chris’ co-supervision, he studied substrate promiscuity of F420-dependent enzymes in mycobacteria, resulting in three publications. At the Greening Lab, he has been involved in a range of projects in the ecology and physiology spaces. He is currently managing the AMR Testing & Surveillance Facility for the Centre to Impact AMR. In his spare time, he enjoys badminton, playing acoustic guitar, and cooking.
ARC DECRA Fellow: Dr Rachael Lappan
Rachael has come from the human microbiology field, completing her PhD in 2019 at the University of Western Australia on the microbiome of childhood ear infections. Excited to explore the universe of environmental microbiology, she joined the Greening lab in the same year to work on the RISE: Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments program. She is also involved in several other projects, exploring the metagenomes of various terrestrial, marine, and host-associated environments with bioinformatics. In 2022, she was awarded an ARC DECRA Fellowship to lead a group to understand the structure, function, and significance of the atmospheric microbiome. When not at work she enjoys hosting board game nights, running Dungeons & Dragons games and looking at photos of other people’s dogs.
Medical Microbiology Team
Team Leader: Dr Tom Watts
Tom completed his PhD at Monash University under the tutelage of Professor Julian Rood and Dr. Vicki Adams, where he studied plasmid conjugation and incompatibility in the clostridia. Following his PhD, he had a two-year stint as a Research Fellow in sweltering Singapore with Professor Kimberly Kline, where he worked to characterise the mechanisms of bistable pili expression in the opportunistic pathogen Enterococcus faecalis. Tom has returned to Australia to pursue a postdoc in the Greening Lab, where he will go back to his roots by working on clostridia, as well mycobacteria. When Tom is not typing furiously in the office, you can find him playing his guitar, painting bad self-portraits, loitering in local bouldering gyms or pursuing his goal of watching every movie ever made.
PhD Student: Caitlin Welsh
Caitlin recently completed her Bachelor of Science at Monash University majoring in Microbiology and Zoology, with a keen interest in bacteria. She joined the Greening lab for an Honours project in 2019 focusing on characterisation of novel lineages of hydrogen-scavenging bacteria. After a bioinformatics-focused research assistant position, she has recently embarked on a PhD focused on hydrogen metabolism in the human gastrointestinal tract. When not at university Cait enjoys travelling as much as possible, spending time in the garden, birdwatching and looking after her many fish.
PhD Student: Igor da Silva
Igor completed his undergraduate and Master at Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil) in Materials Engineering, writing his thesis on the hydrophobic influence in amphiphilic polymers to synthesize antimicrobial silver nanoparticles. He joined Junkers and Greening labs to study the synthesis of peptide-mimicking polymers which present antimicrobial properties. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and (urban) hiking.
PhD Student: Thilini Koralegedara
Thilini completed her Honours at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka, and recently gained her masters in Biotechnology as the highest achieving graduate from Swinburne University of Technology. She focused on cloning lipase genes from thermophilic bacteria and analysing the compost fungal microbiome as parts of her research. She joins the Greening lab as a PhD student to uncover the effects of carbon monoxide on Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Thilini likes to explore different parts of the world, experiment with arts and crafts, and de-stress by watching variety shows and cat videos on YouTube.
PhD Student: Kalani Paranagama
Kalani Paranagama is a computational microbiologist who is completing her PhD at the Wyres and Greening laboratories focusing on metabolic adaptations of Klebsiella pneumoniae. She previously completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Immunology at University of Melbourne before undertaking an Honours degree in Infectious Diseases and Master’s degree in Data Science at Monash University.
PhD Student: Charles Nunez
Charles completed his Honours project with Dr Francesca Short on the persistence mechanisms of nosocomial pathogens, resulting in a first-author . He has returned to complete a PhD between the Short and Greening labs on environmental persistence of pathogens. Outside work, as can be expected from his fieldwork gear, he was recently spotted in the front row of Taylor Swift’s latest concert!
Honours Student: Jessica Solari
Jess has completed a Bachelor of Science Advanced – Research at Monash University with majors in Microbiology and Biochemistry. After completing an undergraduate project in Greening lab isolating bacterial pathogens from urban water samples, Jess will be commencing Honours in 2024 with a project on hydrogen metabolism in the gut microbiome. Outside of their studies, Jess loves being out in nature, surfing, hiking, and starting new knitting projects that may never be finished.
Honours Student: Addam Corallo
Addam recently completed his Bachelor of Science at Monash University, majoring in Immunology and Microbiology. He chose these fields as he finds the battle between microbial pathogens and our immune system fascinating, and enjoys learning and discovering the interplay between the two fields. During his Honours project, he will study how cigarette smoke influences Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Outside of his studies, he often enjoys walking his dog, playing online games with friends, and musical theatre.
Environmental Microbiology Team
Team Leader: Dr Pok Man (Bob) Leung
Bob has started a postdoc after a fruitful four-year PhD under Chris’ supervision. Before joining the Greening lab, he was nurtured intellectually in Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (undergrad), Cornell University (exchange), and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (research intern). He is currently studying ecophysiology of microbial communities and their novel metabolic adaptations in extreme ecosystems using culture-dependent and culture-independent approaches. He enjoys suspenseful video games and shows for creative excitement, bothering his cat, and exploring painless ways to stay healthy.
Postdoc: Dr Francesco Ricci
Francesco completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne where he studied population structure and ecophysiology of microbes living in symbiosis with tropical Scleractinian corals. Following his PhD, Francesco developed an interest in understanding how life adapts to extreme environments such as the deep sea and hypersaline lakes. He joined the Greening Lab in 2023, where he will investigate the symbiosis between microbes and deep sea corals and microbial metabolisms in aquatic caves. In his free time, he enjoys the outdoors, underwater diving, rock climbing, camping, cooking and time with family and friends.
PhD Student: Thanh Nguyen
Thanh is studying microbial pathways controlling greenhouse gas emissions in coastal permeable sediments. After completing his Bachelors degree at the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi, he continued his study in the inter-university master programme of Oceans & Lakes in Belgium, where he focused on ecotoxicology and environmental biomonitoring. Before joining the Greening lab, he worked on different projects which examined effects of contaminants like heavy metals and microplastics on physiological health of aquatic organisms. In his free time, Thanh enjoys cooking, painting and learning foreign languages.
PhD Student: Ning Hall
Ning is investigating microbial greenhouse gas production in permeable marine sediments with the Cook and Greening labs. She enjoys the challenge of working in an interdisciplinary team bridging gaps between biogeochemistry and microbiology. She completed first-class Honours in Chemistry at Monash, studying volatile fatty acid production by marine bacteria. Before turning to science, Ning studied Javanese dance in Indonesia and continues to enjoy teaching and performing in Melbourne.
PhD Student: Sam (Ziqi) Fan
Ziqi obtained a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in Environmental Science and later achieved a master’s degree with distinction in Environmental Bioscience in a Changing Climate from Lancaster University and the University of Warwick, respectively. During his master’s dissertation, he conducted research on aerobic carbon monoxide- oxidizing bacteria in mosses. Ziqi joined the Greening lab in 2023, where he focuses on studying desert and phyllosphere communities. In his spare time, Ziqi enjoys traveling, reading, and playing the saxophone.
PhD Student: Maha Alharbi
Maha’s PhD, hosted by the Cook and Greening labs, is examining the coupling of iron oxidation to nitrate reduction. She completed her Master’s degree at Taibah University, Saudi Arabia, focusing on isolating exopolysaccharide-producing Azotobacter strains. Maha subsequently completed a medical internship and worked as a teaching assistant in Taibah University and King Abdulaziz University. In her free time, she enjoys relaxing, cooking, and spending time with my family.
Honours Student: Montgomery Hall
Monte has just completed a Bachelor of Science Advanced – Research at Monash University, where he majored in Microbiology and Ecology. After completing a number of undergraduate projects at the Greening lab, he confirmed his passion for research and the field of microbial ecology. Monte is continuing in the lab as an Honours student, where he will investigate the effects of fire on soil and bark microbial communities and the biogeochemical processes they mediate. In his free time, Monte enjoys bushwalks, learning about botany, and reading old books while cuddled up with his cat.
Microbial Biochemistry Team
Team Leader: Dr Marion Jespersen
Marion completed her MSc and PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Germany under the supervision of Dr Tristan Wagner. Her research focused on the structural and biochemical characterisation of enzymes required for sulfate reduction and carbon transformation in methanogenic archaea and energy-limited anaerobic bacteria.
Fascinated by the realm of metabolic pathways, she moved to Melbourne in February 2024 to lead research into the structure and function of gas-metabolising enzymes. In her free time, Marion enjoys hiking, bouldering, travelling, sending subjectively funny memes to friends and spending time with her family.
Research Officer: James Lingford
James completed a Bachelor of Science in Genetics (Hons) at the University of Western Australia. Following this he became a research assistant at the Harry Perkins Institute studying RNA binding proteins, and then later moved to Melbourne to be a research assistant at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, where he investigated the structure and function of mucosal proteins. James is now a research officer in the Greening lab where he’s keen to apply his dual genetics and protein biochemistry skills to investigate the weird and wonderful world of gas consuming microbial proteins. James’s personal scientific hero and all-around role model is Richard Lewontin. In his spare time you can find James reading a book while cuddling his two dogs, or discussing a terrible movie with his wife.
PhD Student: James Archer
James completed a Bachelor of Science at Monash University in 2021, doing so with a major in Microbiology and minor in Genetics. In 2022, he joined the Greening Laboratory and completed an Honours project focused on the regulation of hydrogen metabolism in Mycobacterium smegmatis. Following a successful year, James returned to the Greening Laboratory as a temporary research assistant, and will begin a PhD centred around the regulation and assembly of the Huc hydrogenase in M. smegmatis in April of 2023. In his spare time, James enjoys playing basketball, gaming with his friends, and producing music.
PhD Student: Ashleigh Kropp
Ash completed her undergraduate, Honours, and Masters of Philosophy degrees at the University of Melbourne/WEHI, writing her thesis on the structural and functional role of specific human kinases that are involved in numerous cancers. In late 2019, Ash joined the Greening lab as a research assistant and achieved the first purification of a high-affinity hydrogenase. Now a PhD student with the Grinter and Greening labs, she primarily works on the biochemistry of hydrogenases in Mycobacterium smegmatis, specifically investigating their structure and their transcriptional regulation. Outside of work, Ash loves yoga and pilates, trashy reality TV, and being with her friends.
Extreme Microbiology Team
Team Leader: Dr Sophie Holland
Sophie (they/she) is an environmental microbiologist interested in climate change and the extremes of life. They completed their undergrad and PhD at UNSW Sydney, studying anaerobic organohalide-degrading bacteria, with a particular focus on a novel, dichloromethane-fermenting species. They then moved to Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, to investigate the biodegradation of marine microplastics using stable isotope techniques. Sophie came back to Australia in 2023 to join the SAEF (Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future) team, researching the impact of climate change on Antarctic microorganisms. On the weekend, they enjoy getting out of the city to go hiking, swimming, and camping.
Research Officer: Tess Hutchinson
Tess is a research officer investigating how climate change impacts primary production and microbial biodiversity in Antarctica. In 2018, she completed first-class Honours on a similar topic. Tess enjoys the field work that comes with her project, having visited beaches across Australia and Denmark in the name of research. In 2023, she completely her PhD investigating pathways of organic carbon degradation in permeable marine sediments (sand). In her spare time, Tess enjoys reading, travelling and eating delicious things.
PhD Student: Parth Sharma
Parth completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Biotechnology from Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, and Madurai Kamaraj University respectively. During his postgraduation dissertation, he studied secondary metabolite production from endophytic fungi. Following his Masters, he worked on multiple research projects exploring microbiomes of hotspring (Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre), river (National Institute of Oceanography), and marine (Gujarat Technological University) environments. As his PhD project at Lappan and Greening groups, he is investigating microbial primary succession in meteorites and glacier forelands via culture-independent techniques. In his free time, he likes to train in the gym for field work, play video games, binge watch, and relax with friends.
Visiting Postdoc: Dr Oliver Schmidt
Oliver is a Postdoc at UiT The Arctic University of Norway and was awarded a one-year fellowship by the Research Council of Norway to join the Greening Lab in late 2023 and continue his studies on the physiology of the atmospheric trace gas oxidizer Methylocapsa gorgona. Before Oliver moved north to Tromsø in 2021, he investigated anaerobic degradation processes in peatlands and the gut of earthworms at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. During this time, he developed his fascination for microbes that thrive at the thermodynamic edge of live. When not tormenting others with electron transport chains and thermodynamic calculations, he enjoys the outdoors, playing football (also known as soccer in some parts of the world) and cooking.
Industrial Microbiology Team
Team Leader: Dr Gaofeng Ni
Gaofeng uses culture-independent and culture-dependent approaches to study microbiota in natural and engineered environments. Before joining the Greening lab, he worked on a range of projects including bioelectrochemical systems, microbial sulfur metabolism, extremophiles (PhD, Linnaues University, Sweden and Wetsus, European Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology, Netherlands), microbial nitrogen and carbon metabolism and wastewater-based epidemiology (Postdoc, the University of Queensland, and Queensland University of Technology, Australia). He is a recipient of the Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship. He also enjoys cooking, sports, and music.
Postdoc: Dr Surbhi Jain
Coming from a background in anaerobic microbiology, Surbhi completed her PhD in 2022 in the research group of Prof. Dr. Volker Müller at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany. She genetically modified the acetogenic bacterium Thermoanaerobacter kivui, which grows on C1 gases to produce value-added chemicals such as acetate, ethanol, or formate. She is passionate about climate change research and is continuing to work with industry-focused research in the Greening lab, focusing on conversion of greenhouse gases into sustainable animal feeds using mixotrophic bacteria. In her spare time, Surbhi likes to do yoga and go biking.
Postdoc: Dr Daniel Gittins
Daniel is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of California, Berkeley working under the supervision of Jill Banfield and Chris Greening. Daniel received a B.Sc. in Geography at the University of Sheffield, followed by a M.Sc. in Petroleum Geochemistry at Newcastle University. Whilst working for Applied Petroleum Technology in Norway, he developed an interest in subsurface microbiology leading him to pursue a Ph.D. in Environmental Microbiology at the University of Calgary examining deep biosphere microbial dispersal by integrating metagenomics, geophysics, geochemistry and microbiology. This research was commercialized by co-founding Tracera Biotech Inc. with his Ph.D. supervisor, Casey Hubert. Daniel currently researches microbial diversity in subsurface hydrogen metabolism with important implications for enhanced hydrogen storage. Outside of the lab, Daniel enjoys travelling, hiking and skiing.
PhD Student: Nadeesha Athukorala
Nadeesha’s research research focuses on enhancing methane removal and protein production using proteobacterial and verrucomicrobial methanotrophs. During her B.Sc. Honours in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, she identified a lipolytic Trichoderma sp. and characterized its lipase. She then spent one and a half years as a Teaching and Research Assistant at the University of Peradeniya, where she studied Cryptosporidium species infecting kidney transplant patients and zoonotic diseases in Sri Lanka. She joined the Greening Lab as a PhD student in February 2023. Nadeesha enjoys reading novels and going on road trips in her leisure time.
- Blair Ney: Research Assistant, 2017 – 2018. Currently registrar at St Vincent’s Hospital.
- Joanna Feng: Honours Student, 2017. Currently laboratory technician at Generation Victoria.
- Dr Tom Lines: Research Assistant, 2018. Currently postdoctoral fellow at University of Adelaide.
- Dr Maria Chuvochina: Research Assistant, 2018. Currently research assistant at University of Queensland.
- Dr Karen Jordaan: Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, 2018 – 2019: Currently postdoctoral fellow at Pontificia Universidad Católica (Chile).
- A/Prof Osnat Gillor: Sabbatical, 2019. Currently group leader at Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
- Dr Ya-Jou Chen: PhD student, 2016-2020. Currently assistant professor at Duke Kunshan University.
- Dr Zahra Islam: PhD student, 2017-2020. Currently postdoctoral fellow at University of Melbourne.
- Guy Shelley: Honours Student, 2018 and Research Assistant, 2019. Currently ELP Graduate at Services Victoria.
- Katie Bayly: Honours Student, 2018. Currently customer service representative.
- Dr Eleonora Chiri: Postdoctoral fellow, 2017-2020. Currently founder of AgroMini, Italy.
- Dr Rhys Grinter: Postdoctoral fellow, 2018-2020. Currently group leader at Monash University.
- Abraham Freijah: Honours Student, 2019-2020. Currently technical assistant at Doherty Institute.
- Jie Mao: Intern, 2020-2021. Currently bioinformatician at Children’s Cancer Institute.
- Dr Sarah Reeve: Co-supervised PhD student, 2017-2021. Currently environmental consultant at Prensa Ltd.
- Dr Paul Cordero: PhD student, 2017-2021. Currently postdoctoral fellow at Aachen University, Germany.
- Anjali Lobo: Honours student, 2020.
- Dr Laura Perlaza-Jimenez: Postdoctoral fellow, 2020-2021. Currently bioinformatician at Monash Bioinformatics Platform.
- Nhu Quynh Doan: Intern, 2021-2022. Currently technical assistant at Alfred Health.
- Dr Laura Woods: Postdoctoral fellow, 2021-2022. Currently bioinformatician for National Center for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology, Spain.
- Michael Milton: Bioinformatician, 2021-2022. Currently research computer engineer at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.
- Isabelle Magnin-Bougma: Honours Student, 2022. Currently research technician at Monash University.
- Luis Jimenez: Research Assistant, 2020-2023. Currently lab manager at Monash University.
- Dr Sean K. Bay: PhD Student, 2016-2020 and postdoctoral fellow, 2020-2022. Currently ARC DECRA Fellow and lecturer at La Trobe University.
- Dr David Gillett, PhD Student, 2019-2023. Currently postdoctoral fellow at University of Houston, Texas.
- Justin Davis, Masters Student, 2023.