Dianne is a geneticist, with 18yrs of research experience in the application of DNA technologies for biodiversity conservation outcomes in both New Zealand and Australia. Her career focus has been facilitating the translation of fundamental research into applied outcomes, working closely with stakeholders to ensure uptake. Previously at Landcare Research NZ, she developed a successful business unit, EcoGene, resulting in a national award for Women in Science Entrepreneurship. She now leads the EcoDNA team at the Institute for Applied Ecology, Faculty for Science and Technology at theUniversity of Canberra, which is focused on the development eDNA technologies for surveillance and detection of species.
With over 15 years’ experience in molecular genetics, Elise was one of the first researchers in Australia to develop techniques to analyse environmental DNA (eDNA). She was instrumental in the creation of eDNA facilities at the University of Canberra which, combined with a trace DNA laboratory, enable high-sensitivity eDNA detection while minimizing contamination. Elise’s eDNA research focuses predominately on detection of aquatic species from freshwater samples. She has used a single-species approach to inform of the presence or absence of native and invasive species, and has employed metabarcoding to detect the presence of multiple species simultaneously. Elise has applied this approach to determine the diet composition of various species and to detect biodiversity at a site and is currently working on techniques to improve estimates of species rank abundance.
Richard Duncan is an ecologist focused on understanding how invasive species arrive, establish and impact native ecosystems. His work in eDNA has focused on designing robust sampling strategies for species detection and developing modelling tools to enable proper quantification of the accuracy and uncertainties associated with eDNA detection.
Rheyda’s main interest is the application of science to biodiversity conservation. Her previous experience in the environmental field is varied – ranging from captive breeding and reintroduction, conservation genetics, wildlife medicine and invasive species management. She holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of the Philippines, a Master of Science in Conservation Biology from Massey University (New Zealand) and a PhD in Applied Ecology from the University of Canberra. Her PhD focused on improving eDNA detection probabilities for monitoring aquatic species.
Alejandro Trujillo-González has seven years of experience in parasite-host interactions, parasite ecology, molecular detection techniques and biosecurity. Originally from Cali, Colombia, Alejandro graduated from Los Andes University with a BSc in Biology in 2010, working with parasitic nematodes of mosquito larvae as potential biological controls of mosquito-borne diseases. He then completed a Graduate Diploma of Research Methods at James Cook University in 2013 and a Master of Philosophy in 2015 with research on the behaviour and histopathology of the ectoparasite Neobenedenia infecting barramundi. Alejandro recently completed his PhD at James Cook University on parasites infecting ornamental fish imported into Australia, examining the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) methods as viable detection tools for Australian biosecurity. Alejandro continues to explore the utility of eDNA-based molecular techniques in detecting invasive parasites and pathogens in wild ecosystems to accurately inform management and improve biosecurity protocols.
Jonas obtained his Bachelor and Master of Science in Biology at the University of Leuven (Belgium) and completed his PhD focused on monitoring freshwater communities using eDNA metabarcoding in 2018. Jonas developed a number of pioneering techniques during his PhD, including the detection of spawning in a threatened species using eDNA and the use of an innovative in-silico pipeline for optimising primers for metabarcoding projects. His analytical and empirical approach has resulted in him commencing a new position in 2019 at the Foundazione Edmund Mach in Trentino Italy as a lead researcher within the Eco-AlpsWater project. Jonas still remains as an affiliate of the EcoDNA team providing his analytical expertise for some key projects.
Born and raised in Canberra, Jack completed a Bachelor of Psychology and an Honours in Applied Science at the University of Canberra. Throughout his Honour’s year, Jack developed molecular techniques capable of detecting the highly endangered corroboree frog from water samples, which he then used to infer reintroduction success of captive bred populations released into the wild.
Jack has been working as a research assistant as part of the EcoDNA group at the Institute for Applied Ecology. He conducts fieldwork across Australia collecting eDNA samples for various projects such as the National Carp Control Plan, monitoring of macro-invertebrates along the Murray River, and eDNA detection of the Macquarie Perch throughout Abercrombie NP. He also conducts lab work using single-species molecular approaches to inform the presence or absence of native and invasive species, and metabarcoding techniques to assess diet composition of sea birds.
Jack is now commencing a PhD at the University of Canberra under the supervision of Dr Dianne Gleeson and Dr Elise Furlan implementing, eDNA and metabarcoding techniques across a diverse range of taxa and ecosystems.
Apart from his role as part of the EcoDNA group at UC, Jack has also worked for the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and has a keen interest in walking, travel, music and sport.
Born and raised in Kenya, David has huge interest in application of science in conservation of African endangered species. He is currently a second year PhD student in the eDNA Group at the Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, where he is applying recent development in molecular tools to study and resolve threats facing African cheetahs in their natural habitats. Before starting his PhD, David worked as a senior research assistant at the Kenya Wildlife Trust (Predator program), where he coordinated and supervised the genetics projects. David has a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife conservation and Master of Science in animal genetics and breeding both from the University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Sumaiya has been in the field of Molecular Genetics and eDNA as Research Officer since 2008. She has worked on the Tasmanian Fox Eradication Program and population genetics projects on feral pigs. Sumaiya designed and managed the automation of large-scale detection of predators from trace environmental DNA. She has worked extensively in genotyping feral pigs in the Kimberleys, Kangaroo Island and the Macquarie Marshes. Currently she is working on eDNA barcoding and metabarcoding projects. Sumaiya has also been working with human identification at the Genetic Ancestral Lab on genotyping and phenotyping of human DNA using the Ion Chef.
She has a Diploma in Pathology (Lab Technology) from Canberra Institute of Technology.
Llara spent many years working in research labs at ANU and CSIRO where she worked her way up from research assistant to lab manager, a position she has held at the University of Canberra for the last 4 years. Llara manages several laboratories including the Wildlife Genetics, Freshwater Ecology, Epigenomics and Trace DNA labs and is the first point of contact for staff and students with lab-related issues.
An important part of Llara’s responsibilities is ensuring the labs are compliant with regards to safety and that the lab users are conducting their research with minimal risk to themselves and others. Additionally, Llara organises and facilitates the weekly meetings where researchers present and discuss their work, manages the procurement and finances and, generally acts as the go-to person across a variety of areas. Llara also ensures we also have fun social events amongst all the hard work and her musician skills come to the fore.