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

chrissmallChris continues to be amazed on a daily basis by the ‘superpowers’ of bacteria. Coming from a working-class background, he grew up in the English towns of Wallasey, Clevedon, and Nailsea and became the first member of his family to go to university. Completing a first-class degree in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry at the University of Oxford, he undertook a doctorate down under 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.

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Lab Manager: Tent (Thanavit) Jirapanjawat

tentsmallTent 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.

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ARC DECRA Fellow: Dr Rachael Lappan

rachaelalternativeRachael 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.

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Medical Microbiology Team

Team Leader: Dr Tom Watts

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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.

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PhD Student: David Gillett

davidgillettDavid is studying the cellular and biochemical basis of how mycobacteria adapt to oxygen deprivation. During his first-class Honours project in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne, he studied the protein-importing complexes of mitochondria. He stayed at Melbourne University as a Research Assistant, working to develop proteasome inhibitors as treatment for the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. In his spare time, David plays guitar and watches TV shows he doesn’t really even enjoy.

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PhD Student: Caitlin Welsh

caitlinwelshCaitlin 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.

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PhD Student: Ashleigh Kropp

Miss Ashleigh KroppAsh 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.

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PhD Student: Thilini Koralegedara

thiliniThilini 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: James Archer

ScreenshotJames 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: Katie Bayly

Katie’s PhD focuses on the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis and its ability to utilise alternate energy sources during persistence within the host. Prior to starting her PhD, she majored in Genetics and Biochemistry at Monash University, with a minor in Microbiology. She then completed a first-class Honours project in the Greening lab, in which she investigated the role of carbon monoxide oxidation in mycobacterial persistence, and was awarded the Monash University Genetics Honours Prize in 2018. In her spare time, Katie enjoys reading, relaxing, and playing games (both video and tabletop) with her friends.

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Research Assistant: Luis Jimenez

luisprofileLuis has a background in host-pathogen interactions. He graduated from Monash University with a BSc and first class Honours in Genetics, during which he investigated the utility of the bacterial symbiont Wolbachia as a tool to control Dengue virus spread in wild mosquitoes. He then worked as a laboratory manager in the School of Biological Sciences at Monash, examining the relationship between sex, the environment, and disease in Daphnia. After travelling the Americas for two years, he returned to Australia and joined the Greening lab as a research assistant in 2021, where he now works on the isolation and cultivation of novel bacterial taxa from desert soil ecosystems. In his free time he enjoys bouldering with friends, studying Arabic and Spanish, and cooking.

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Research Assistant: James Lingford

jameslJames 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.

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Environmental Microbiology Team

Team Leader: Dr Pok Man (Bob) Leung

bobphotoBob 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.

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Postdoc: Dr Francesco Ricci

francescoFrancesco 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.

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PhD Student: Thanh Nguyen

thanhThanh 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.

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PhD Student: Tess Hutchinson

tessTess is investigating pathways of organic carbon degradation in permeable marine sediments (sand) with the Cook and Greening labs, with a focus on fermentation, hydrogen metabolism, and organic storage products. 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 her spare time, Tess enjoys reading, travelling and eating delicious things.

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PhD Student: Ning Hall

ningNing 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: Maha Alharbi

mahaMaha’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.

PhD Student: Patrick Morrison

patrickPatrick earned his Bachelor’s in science from Northern Illinois University in 2013 and his Master’s in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2020. In earning his Master’s, Patrick studied the origin and early evolution of microbial sulfur metabolism circa. 3.5 billion years ago. Some of his interests include paleo-microbiology, astrobiology and marine microbiology. He is co-advised by Perran Cook and Chris Greening and is interested in how microbes acclimate to temporal variation redox conditions in high energy marine sediments. Some of Patrick’s personal interests include weightlifting, cycling and bird watching.

Honours Student: Montgomery Hall

monteMonte 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.

ARC DECRA Fellow (affiliate): Dr Sean Bay

seansmallSean is investigating microbial biodiversity and primary production in Antarctica. After completing his Honours in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Exeter, he spent time working as an environmental field officer down under, and then completed a Masters in Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Management at King’s College London. Sean has also worked on ecological restoration and monitoring projects within the context of environmental rehabilitation and agriculture. Following a highly successful PhD with Chris (2016-2020), he embarked on a postdoctoral fellowship through SAEF: Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future and was awarded an ARC DECRA Fellowship to investigate cave ecosystems in 2022. He enjoys surfing, mountain biking and playing violin.

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Industrial Microbiology Team

Team Leader: Dr Gaofeng Ni

gaofeng

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.

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Postdoc: Dr Surbhi Jain

surbhiComing 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.

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PhD Student: Nadeesha Athukorala

nadeeshaNadeesha’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.

Lab Alumni

  • Blair Ney: Research Assistant, 2017 – 2018. Currently medical doctor 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 (Israel).
  • Dr Ya-Jou Chen: PhD student, 2016-2020. Currently postdoctoral fellow at McGill University (Canada).
  • 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.
  • Dr Eleonora Chiri: Postdoctoral fellow, 2017-2020. Currently on sabbatical.
  • Dr Rhys Grinter: Postdoctoral fellow, 2018-2020. Currently group leader at Monash University.
  • Abraham Freijah: Honours Student, 2019-2020. Currently technical assistant at Alfred Health.
  • 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 in Madrid, 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.