Manefield Group Alumni

Group photos through the years








Postdoctoral Scientists

r Anna Yeung 
first developed an interest for microbiology during her undergraduate days before taking on a PhD in environmental engineering at UNSW. Her PhD focused on the physiological and proteomic response of freshwater cyanobacteria under low iron conditions. Anna recently joined the group as a research associate where she is tasked with finding a solution to biodegrade volatile fatty acids in hypersaline wastewater, and to find microbes that can break down polyfluroakyl compounds from contaminated environments. Email:

Dr Zack Jones is a research associate originally from California and attended the University of California San Diego where he received his BSc in Microbiology. He went on to receive his PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines where he studied microbial communities of constructed wetlands for water treatment, specifically investigating anaerobic nitrogen cycling and community dynamics across systems. Zack is currently studying enhanced biogas formation from coal and anaerobic digestion via neutral red crystal formation.

Dr Sabrina Beckmann
 contributed to the team as a research associate 2011-2017. Originally from Germany she obtained her PhD at the University of Oldenburg (ICBM) presenting the thesis “Microbial Methane Formation in Abandoned Coal Mines in the Ruhr Basin of Germany”. Her research interests focus on the analysis of microbial communities in coal deposits. Important questions concern characterization of these microorganisms and their physiological significance on microbial processes on coal to the final product methane. Special research interests include the lifestyle of Archaea and the methane cycling in the deep biosphere of coal mine habitats. She left the group to join the Biddle group in Delaware, US.

Dr Padmavarthy Bakthavathsalem completed her PhD in India on development of rapid diagnostic assays for pathogens. She was awarded a Wellcome Trust - DBT India Alliance Early career fellowship and visited UNSW as a part of this fellowship for two years. With her expertise on diagnostic assays and in collaboration with Professor Justin Gooding she was developing a smartphone integrated point-of-care diagnostic device for rapid detection of bacterial meningitis.

Dr. Robert Barnes is originally from the UK, where he completed his PhD at the University of Oxford, Department of Earth Sciences, in 2009.  He has worked on dechlorinating bacterial communities in soils and groundwater, optimising bimetallic (Ni/Fe) nanoparticles for the chemical degradation of chloroethenes and investigating the impact on the dechlorinating microbial communities. Robert has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, and as a Research Fellow at the Advanced Environmental Biotechnology Centre at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore where he developed nitric oxide donor compound treatment for the dispersal of bacterial biofilms from water treatment membranes. Robert is a passionate microbiologist interested in microbial community structures, dynamics and functions in environmental and engineered systems.  Email:

Dr Joanna Koenig
 is originally from Mauritius. She completed a BSc in Biotechnology with Honours at Murdoch University in Perth in 2006. Her Honours project involved describing anaerobic bacteria that degraded volatile fatty acids in thermophilic methanogenic reactors. Jo completed her PhD focussing on bacteria that degrade mixtures of the polluting chlorinated solvents perchloroethene (PCE) and carbon tetrachloride (CT) and joined the group as a research associate working on reductive dechlorination. She is very interested in microbiological applications as solutions to environmental issues, and so far her research projects have had this in common. She believes in utilizing microbes to provide clean energy, valuable materials from waste, and to engineer closed-loop systems. Jo is currently on maternity leave. Email:

Dr Manling Shi from China joined the team as a Senior Visiting Fellow. She obtained her PhD from Zhejiang University presenting a thesis entitled“ Production of monoclonal antibodies against Turnip mosaic virus and virus genomic variation”in China in 2005. Her specific research interest in the microbial biodegradation. She  worked on a project on the biodegradation of oil and returned to China in January 2015.

Dr Theerthankar Das, conducted undergraduate studies in India, has a masters degree from Curtin University, Australia and was recently 
awarded his PhD from University of Groningen, Netherlands. Whilst he is a chemist by training, Das did his PhD on the role of extracellular DNA on biofilm formation. As part of the team he will bring his expertise to bear on the role of quorum sensing in the colonisation of chitin particles, on the discovery of novel redox active compounds produced by bacteria 
and on the role of eDNA and pyocyanin in 
Pseudomonas behaviour. Das was with the group for three years 2012-2014 at which point he was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Sydney. Email:

Dr. Xiaomin Li from China obtained her PhD in March 2010 from Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences presenting a thesis entitled ‘Interaction of dissimilatory iron reduction and reductive transformation of reducible pollutants’. Her research interests focus on extracellular electron transfer from microorganisms to external electron acceptors such as iron, electrodes, organic electron shuttles, nitrate and chlorinated organic compounds. She is currently working as a Postdoc on interspecies electron transfer for methane production and electricity generation. Xiaomin was with the group for 2014.

Dr Maria-Luisa Gutierrez-Zamora was a postdoctoral member of the team originally from Mexico. She obtained her PhD in the group in August 2010 from the University of New South Wales presenting a thesis entitled ‘Development of a novel rRNA based method for fingerprinting bacterial consortia’. She has general interest in the ecological and functional roles of microorganisms in the biosphere, in particular the flow of carbon through microbial food chains. She has a specific interest in the microbial biodegradation of hydrocarbons and its associated bioremediation potential. She left the group on maternity leave in April 2014.

Dr. Daniela Ribeiro was a visiting postdoctoral scientist 2013-2014. She obtained her PhD at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), Brazil, in 2011. Her PhD focused on the stress response of the extremophile bacterium Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, which is largely used in the bioleaching process. She has worked as a lab manager at the Brazilian bioethanol science and technology laboratory.  Daniela joined the group contributing to research efforts directed towards methane production from renewable and non-renewable resources. Her research interests lie in understanding bacterial physiology and metabolism, applied to biotechnological purposes related to clean energy. Email:

Dr Astrid Michaelsen
 was a postdoctoral member of the team 2011-2013. Originally from southern Germany she completed her PhD at the University of Vienna in Austria in 2010. Her postgraduate studies investigated the foxing of paper caused by fungi and molecular monitoring of conservation treatments. At UNSW she has been responsible for commercial contracts to quantify bacteria and functional genes involved in the reductive dechlorination of chlorinated solvents in sediment and groundwater samples from polluted sites in Australia for Micronovo Pty Ltd. Email:

Dr Adrian Low
 joined the team as an honours stduent in 2005, spent some time as a research assistant before successfully completing a PhD in 2012. He then worked as a postdoc until he picked up a postdoctoral position back in his home country of Singapore at the National University of Singapore.
 He has a broad interest in the role of bacteria in biogeochemical cycles and more specific interest in the use of bacteria to degrade environmental pollutants for the remediation of contaminated sites.

Dr Olivier Zemb
 was a postdoctoral member of the team (2007-2011) originally from France applying principles of microbial ecology to the in vitro and in situ degradation of chlorinated hydrocarbons. He was studying the use of abiotic sources of electrons such as iron in the context of biological reductive dechlorination. Methods included next generation sequencing coupled with incubation experiments and RNA stable isotope probing which allow identification of the genes that use a particular isotopic substrate. He was also involved in theoretical consideration of the electrostatic interaction between virus and bacteria. In 2011 Olivier successfully applied for a permanent position back in France and left the team in October 2011.

Dr David Schleheck
 - Joined the group from Konstanz University (Germany) and made enormous contributions to the development of the bioremediation portfolio (2004-2006). He returned to Konstanz in 2007. 

Dr Maki Teramoto
 - Joined the group from the Marine Biotechnology Institute (Japan) and contributed to the EBCRC bioremediation project (2005).

Research Assistants

Dr Muoi Khou
 - Served the group from 2004 to 2007 making great contributions to the EBCRC bioremediation project and to lab management during this time. Moui left the group to pursue a medical degree, which she completed in 2011.

Ms Ilona Kindinger 
- Originally from Germany, Ilona joined the group in 2006 to work on a project entitled Development of a bacterial-protozoa based group selection model. She returned to Germany in 2008 and now works in Konstanz.

Mr Ryan Yi Heng Nai - Joined the group in 2007 to work on a project entitled Development of a bacterial-protozoa based group selection model. Ryan left the group to pursue a PhD on RNA fingerprinting at the University of Tasmania.

Ms Dan Yu - Joined the group in 2007 to work on a project entitled Development of a bacterial-protozoa based group selection model.

Ms Leena Koop, joined the team in 2011 from high profile groups in the US to work on the biogassification of coal. She has since been integrated into CMB management and administration for 50 % of her time and is also engaged in the generation of scientific illustrations of activated sludge floc formation. 

Grant Elliott
 joined the group in 2013 as an honours student. In 2014, after completing his honours project on factors affecting reductive dechlorination of chloroform in groundwater he worked as a research assistant. In this capacity Grant continued to assist in preparation for inoculation of the Botany Sands Aquifer in the vicinity Penrhyn Estuary to remove chlorinated solvents present beyond the existing containment lines put in place by Orica Australia. Grant is particularly interested in the integration of bioremediation into current physical-chemical clean-up efforts and left the group to take up a job with environment consulting group Aecom. Email:

PhD Graduates

Ana-Maria Moreno
 - Graduated with a PhD in 2007 with a thesis entitled Understanding bacteria-protozoa interactions: from grazing resistance mechanisms to carbon flow in bacteria-protozoa food webs.

Grace Chong
 - Graduated with a PhD in 2010 with a thesis entitled Intercellular bacterial signalling in activated sludge.

Vibeke Aagaard
 - Graduated with a PhD in 2010 with a thesis entitled Utility of electron transfer mediators in the bioremediation of organochlorine contaminated soil.

Maria-Luisa Gutierrez-Zamora - Graduated with a PhD in 2011 with a thesis entitled Development of a novel ribosomal RNA based method for fingerprinting bacterial consortia.

Joanna Koenig - Was awarded a PhD in 2011 a thesis entitled Microbial strategies for the bioremediation of carbon tetrachloride and perchloroethene mixtures.

Sania Wadud - Was awarded a PhD in 2011 a thesis entitled Understanding the microbial ecology of chicken litter in the context of odour production. 
Adrian Low - Was awarded a PhD in 2012 with a thesis entitled Generation of a low pH 1,2-dichloroethane enrichment culture for enhanced bioremediation.

Hazlin Hazrin-Chong was awarded a PhD in 2013 for her thesis entitled Microbial cell attachment, colonisation and degradation of coal.

Ms Iman Taleb was awarded a PhD in 2014 for her thesis entitled Linking the degradation of selected saturated and aromatic crude oil components to specific marine microbial taxa during biostimulation and bioaugmentation using RNA-stable isotope probing.

Mr John Webster
 was a postgraduate student in the group looking at the role of microorganisms in the conversion of coal to methane. His project focussed on the anaerobic portion of the microbial consortia and the metabolic reactions involved (2011-2015). Email:

Ms Valentina Wong
 was a postgraduate student from Malaysia via New Zealand. She studyied the reduction of chloroform and other chlorinated solvents in groundwater with Dr Matthew Lee from 2011 to 2015. Starting with an exploration of the environmental parameters limiting chloroform degrading cultures, Valentina isolated and characterised the primary dechlorinators in this culture. Email:

Mr Aravind Ramachandran was a Phd student under Prof Justin Gooding (UNSW, School of Chemistry) and Dr Mike Manefield (2011-2015). He obtained his Bachelors and Masters in Chemistry from University of Wollongong. He worked on the modification of electrode surfaces with redox mediators and probed electron transfer from bacterial cells on to the modified electrodes.  Email

Mr. Ricardo Alfán-Guzmán is a PhD student from Mexico City who joined the group in August 2012. He is a biotechnological engineer and got his masters degree in Bioprocesses form the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City; his project focussed on the biodegradation of chlorinated organic compounds, like TCE and DCM under aerobic conditions. He will be working Dr. Matthew Lee on the development of HCB dechlorination techniques. 

Huizhi Hu is a fourth year student from Harbin Institute of Technology (China), and joined the team as an exchange student for one year. Her major is municipal engineering. Her specific research interest is in the biofilm formation in wastewater treatment process. She worked on a project on the promoting role of quorum sensing in biofilm formation. Huizhi returned to China Dec 2016.

Ms Tammy Sihui Tang from China joined the team in S1, 2012 working on the reductive dechlorination of perchloroethene with Joanna Koenig. Tammy will characterise a culture isolated from the Botany Industrial Park with respect to function and community composition and explore factors that control its activity in a variety of contaminated aquifers around Australia. Email:

Bat-Erdene Jugder was a PhD student originally from Mongolia. He received a MD BSc at the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences in 2007. After graduation he worked in the biotechnology sector for 4 years. In 2013, he completed a Research Masters degree at the School of BABS, UNSW under supervision of Dr. Christopher Marquis on production and purification of the soluble hydrogenase from Ralstonia eutropha, and the characterisation of its transcriptional regulation in heterotrophic conditions. His PhD research focussed on heterologous production of a functional reductive dehalogenase and its characterization. After completion Bat took up a research position at Harvard. E-mail:

Ms Chau Thi Ahn Thy joined the team from the south of Vietnam with an interest in soil microbiology. Her past research focussed on bio
remediation of organic pollutants in soil such as pesticides and dioxins in the Mekong Delta as well as enhancement of soil fertility through application of bio-fertilizers. She obtained an MSc in
International Environmental & Agricultural Science from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan. Her PhD research focussed on the role of syntrophic interactions in dehalorespiration of chlorinated benzenes with the ultimate goal of generating a bioreactor for destruction of chlorinated benzenes.

Karin Hellauer joined the group for an exchange visit as a doctoral candidate at the Chair of Urban Water Systems Engineering of the Technical University of Munich, Germany. She held a Master of Education in Chemistry and Biology from the Technical University of Munich. Her fields of interest are natural treatment systems with a focus on the biotransformation of trace organic chemicals. She visited for six weeks as part of a collaboration with the group working on identifying genomic markers for bacterial lifestyles in bank filtration or managed aquifer recharge systems.

Miaomiao Zhang 
is a PhD student from China. She obtained a Bachelors in Environmental Engineering and Computer Science and Technology (second degree) from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China. She completed her Masters in Biological Engineering from the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences with a thesis entitled ‘The effects of pH on nitrification and ammonia oxidizers in soils and the underlying mechanisms’. She is interested in microbial ecology and environmental microbiology.

Miriam M. Kronen joined the group from Germany. She escaped the cold to perform her PhD in Mike Manefields group where she will be working on the degradation of isoprene, chloroprene and hexachlorobutanien monomers and polymers. Miriam obtained her BSc at the Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg where she worked on bacterial chemotaxis towards chemicals leaching out of plastics. She then completed her MSc at the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg where she focused on the metabolism of 
C5-dicarboxylic acids in bacteria. She is highly interested in the capability of microbial metabolism especially in the degradation of polymers and the generation of closed-cycle systems. 
Masters Graduates

Lan Le - Graduated with an MSc in 2010 with a thesis entitled Community analysis and physiological characterisation of bacterial isolates from a nitrifying membrane reactor.

Onder Kimyon - Graduated with an MSc in 2012 with a thesis entitled The role of AHL-mediated quorum sensing systems in chitinase production in Aeromonas strains isolated from a municipal wastewater treatment plant.

Ms Mona Elhassan
 graduated with an MPhil thesis entitled Towards an activated sludge floc formation model based on microbial colonisation of chitin investigating floc formation on chitin particles in activated sludge and the processes involved in this phenomenon. The aim of her project was to characterize the effect of AHL signalling on chitinase production and chitin degradation within these flocs.


Ibugo Amaye Igonikon is from West Africa, Nigeria. He completed an undergraduate degree in microbiology, from the university of Port Harcourt. He is currently a graduate diploma research student in microbiology at the University of New South Wales, Australia carrying out research on the interactions between eDNA and pyocyanin in bacterial biofilm formation. Email:

Honours Graduates

Adrian Low - Graduated with BSc (hons I) in 2006 with a thesis entitled Remediation of soils contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons. Adrian went on to contribute to the group as a research assistant (2007-2008) before initiating a PhD in the group in 2009.

Jackie Thomas - Graduated with BSc (hons I) was a member of the group after a project in 2006 and worked on multi species biofilms and their resistance to protozoan grazing with David Schleheck.

Angela Johnstone
 - Graduated with BSc (hons I) in 2008 with a thesis entitled Identification of electron shuttles for biodegradation of chlorinated compounds. Also served as a research assistant throughout 2009.

Mohd Hazwan Ab Halim - Graduated with BSc (hons II) in 2009 with a thesis entitled The role of acylated homoserine lactones in activated sludge.

Kirsten Coupland
 - Graduated with BSc (hons I) in 2010 with a thesis entitled Electron shuttle activity from natural environments and their application to bioremediation

Shafini abd Hapiz - Conducted a summer project with the group and graduated with BSc (hons I) in 2010 with a thesis entitled The role of quorum sensing on electron shuttle production and biofilm formation.

Tallulah Brown - Graduated with BSc (hons I) in 2010 with a thesis entitled The effect of electron shuttles on complex microbial communities

Nadhiah Rahman - Graduated with BSc (hons I) in 2011 with a thesis entitled Improving direct rRNA fingerprinting (DRF) technique to characterise microbial communities in complex samples.

Nik Zamri - Graduated with BSc (hons II) in 2011 with a thesis entitled The effects of electron shuttles on methanogenesis.

Ian Ch'ng - From Malaysia, completed BSc (hons) in 2011 with a thesis entitled Development of a chitosan based activated sludge floc formation model. 

Ms Eliza Wells
 completed a B. Environmental Science/B. Arts at UNSW in 2011, majoring in microbiology and development studies respectively. She successfully completed an honours project in 2012 investigating the activities of a chloroform degrading culturerecently isolated by Dr Matthew Lee. For this work she had the highest mark in her honours cohort and was awarded the Jackson Prize for best performance in microbiology and immunology. Eliza aims to bring together both aspects of her degree by providing solutions to the environmental contamination issues experienced in developing countries around the world today. She currently works for ANSTO.

Grant Elliott
 joined the group in 2013 as an honours student. In 2014, after completing his honours project on factors affecting reductive dechlorination of chloroform in groundwater he worked as a research assistant. In this capacity Grant continued to assist in preparation for inoculation of the Botany Sands Aquifer in the vicinity Penrhyn Estuary to remove chlorinated solvents present beyond the existing containment lines put in place by Orica Australia. Grant is particularly interested in the integration of bioremediation into current physical-chemical clean-up efforts and left the group to take up a job with environment consulting group Aecom. Email:

Ms Liza Kretchmar is originally from Germany and completed her BSc Hons degree with the group in 2013 at UNSW. Liza's honours project explored the link between AHL production and lipase activity in bacterial strains isolated from activated sludge.

Alison Luk grew up in Hong Kong, and conducted an honours project with the group 2013/2014. Her honours project focused on the application of qPCR to quantify different microbial functional groups associated with biogas production from coal. Alison loves bacteria and envisions a world where everyone can see how amazing microbes can be, and will no longer despise and misunderstand them. Alison left the group after honours to take up a research assistant position in Hong Kong. Email:

Yee Mon Oo
 from Myanmar (Burma) conducted an honours project with the group 2013/2014. Mon examined the hypothesis that organic semiconductors can facilitate extracellular electron transfer between bacteria and methanogens. She wishes to make an impact in protecting the environment through research before aspiring to become a teacher. Email:

Ms Sophie Holland is a third year student at UNSW who recently completed a BABS3301 internship as part of her BSc (Adv). She is particularly interested in environmental microbiology and bioremediation. Sophie worked with Joanna Koenig on the reductive dechlorination of perchloroethene, and the interaction between methanogens and organochlorine respiring cultures. Sophie will hopefully join the team for honours in 2014. Email:

Ms Farzana Kastury
 is from Bangladesh studying a Bachelor of Biotechnology at UNSW with a focus on environmental microbiology. She is participating on a project to isolate methanogens from a full scale commercial anaerobic digestor converting food waste to electricity. She hopes to play a part in making the world a more sustainable place to live one day. Email:

Jason Ray
 completed a Bachelor of Medical Science at the University of Technology Sydney and became increasingly interested in devoloping biological processes to remediate and improve human and environmental health. He was drawn to the "groundbreaking" work at UNSW on the bioremediation of the Botany Bay aquifier. Jason's now working with the hexachlorobenzene degradation team to develop an aerobic treatment for breakdown of the lesser chlorinated benzenes.

Vincent Bruce Gillies
 was an Honours student  completing his Bachelor of Environmental Science at UNSW in 2015. Majoring in Chemistry, he is interested in identifying the organisms and mechanisms involved in the microbial degradation of Dichloromethane (DCM). From honours, Vincent aims to further his interest in Microbiology and Bioremediation and to develop his knowledge and skills, so to prepare him for future work in Environmental Consulting. Vince picked up an environmental consulting job before the year was out.

Emile Athaide was an Honours student currently completing his Bachelor of Science at UNSW degree. Majoring in biotechnology, he is interested in the diversity of the microbial systems and how discoveries in this area can benefit society. Emile is currently looking at the bacterial degradation of chloroform, he hopes to develop his critical thinking and practical skills learnt in his honours year to to support a future career in scientific research.

Mackenzie Labine-Romain
 was an honours student and casual research assistant with the group (majoring in biotechnology and microbiology). She worked on enhancing methanogenesis yields for biogas production using redox dyes. Previously, she was on the 2015 UNSW iGEM team, where she applied tools of synthetic biology to engineer synthetic endosymbionts. She also did a brief stint in medical research and decided she’d rather go sampling from creeks in the blue mountains than spend her time euthanising mice.

Annie Xu did an honours project in 2017 investigating the nature of competition between organohalide reducing bacteria and sulfur reducing bacteria as part of her Bachelor of Biotechnology (Honours). She has completed her undergraduate coursework at UNSW and the National University of Singapore under the New Colombo Plan. After working with worms and plants in the laboratory she is finally being reunited with her one true love - microbes. She hopes her efforts will contribute to ensuring Earth remains capable of supporting human life in the future.

Thesis Students, Practicum Students and Volunteers

Coen van Gennep - Joined the group from Wageningen University (Netherlands) in 2006 as part of his undergraduate studies to work on a project entitled Ex situ reactors for reductive dechlorination.

Jelte jan Reitsma - Joined the group from Wageningen University (Netherlands) in 2006 as part of his undergraduate studies to work on a project entitled Cyanocobalamin production for bioremediation in a lab scale fermenter.

Jutta Zwielehner - Joined the group from the University of Vienna (Austria) in 2009 as part of her PhD project entitled Use of stable isotope probing to identify the major consumers of butyrate in faecal samples.

Kathrin Grossmeier
 - Joined the group from the Technical University of Munich (Germany) as part of her MSc on a project entitled Electron shuttles for catalysing the reductive dechlorination of organochlorines.

Ms Carmen Elekes
 - A volunteer student from Romania visited the group in July 2011 working Dr Sabrina Beckmann on the methanogenic potential of the microbial community from groundwater associated with coal seams in the Western Coal Fields of NSW, Australia.

Arthur Bauer joined the team as a practicum student from France (July-August 2011). Arthur worked on the identification of bacterial and fungal isolates growing on coal-silica plates.

Ms Melissa Rapadas
 volunteered with the group (July-Nov 2011) as part of the BABS3301 Biomolecular Sciences Laboratory Project program. Melissa worked on testing isolated bacterial lineages from activated sludge for the production of extracellular redox active metabolites.

Nasim Shah Mohammadi is a volunteer student originally from Iran visiting the group one day a week May-Dec 2011. She has a BSc and MSc in Microbiology in Iran and then completed a master's by coursework in molecular biotechnology at the University of Sydney. She has worked on the effect of griseofulvin on gene expression in Trichophyton Rubrum and on the use of cellulose as a biomaterial. Nasim is now screening activated sludge isolates for AHL production.

Ms Mackenzie Hagan 
visited the group in 2012 as an undergraduate Civil (Environmental) Engineering student from Arizona State University in the United States. She conducted research at the Institute for Biodesign at ASU in the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, working on the reductive dechlorination of Trichloroethene. Studying abroad at UNSW for S2 2012, she worked under the supervision of Adrian Low on a respiring culture of Desulfitbacterium strain AusDCA. Email:

Monica Das Gupta
 joined the team as a BABS3301 student at the start of S1 2012. Monica is working on the identification of isoprene degrading bacteria in soil. Isoprene is an atmospheric trace gas that plays an important role in regulating atmospheric chemistry. About 4 % of the global atmopsheric budget sinks into soil each year yet next to nothing is known about isoprene degrading bacteria in soil. With the support of postgrad student Iman Taleb Monica is using a stable isotope probing based approach. Mail:

Mrs. Shama Sehar
 visited the group as a postgraduate student from Quaid-i-Azam University, Pakistan working on the treatment of domestic wastewater. At UNSW she worked under the co-supervision of Dr. Theerthankar Das investigating the role of divalent cations in influencing extracellular DNA mediated bacterial aggregation which can enhance formation of biofilms. These microorganisms would serve as cost effective biological catalysts for the removal of contaminants from wastewater. She left the group for maternity leave in May 2013.

Ms Marie Alander
joined the group late 2012 as an exchange student studying Biotechnology at Uppsala University in Sweden. She had previously worked in Sweden on a project at the institution of Cell and molecular biology at Uppsala University and participated in the group in a project isolating methanogens from native Australian environments. She left the group early 2013 to return to her studies in Sweden. Email:

Mr Serif Marangoz
 has a BSc. degree in molecular biotechnology from Heidelberg University, Germany and joined the group during his masters degree whilst at the University of Konstanz in Germany. Serif was with us for a 3 month internship on a project isolating anaerobic hydrocarbon degrading and methanogenic microbes from an abandoned oil shale mine in Glen Davis NSW.

James Ng was a BABS3301 student working in the group with Dr Robert Barnes on the development of bacterial consortia for oil degradation as part of a collaboration with environmental clean up industry partner Enretech.

Michael Klas is a person fascinated by anything to do with space. He is originally from Austria and is currently completing his honours thesis by looking into the “Viability of biomining and methanogenic microorganism for in-situ resource extraction on Near-Earth Asteroids”. This project is in partial completion of his Bachelor in Aerospace Engineering undergraduate thesis at the University of New South Wales. He was part of a team working on a perspective article covering an overview of biomining and biogas production on asteroids and their potential for in-situ space applications.

Wenxi Yu was a third year exchange student from Nanjing University, China. Her major is environmental science. She is working with Tammy Sihui Tang and Sabrina Beckmann during the summer of 2014-2015 to enrich for organohalide respiring bacteria in river sediment nd stromatolite samples.

Jessica Horton is a UNSW undergraduate student enrolled in the Advanced Science program, majoring in both Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology. She is completing an internship in the Manefield Group and is working on isolating oil degrading bacteria and the quantification of bacteria from contaminated industrial sites. ​The practical laboratory experience provides her with valuable insight into the rigours of completing an Honours project as well as possible avenues for a career in science. Email:

Aria Ahmed-Cox was an undergraduate student completing her Bachelor of Advanced Science at UNSW. Majoring in Microbiology, she was interested in work done by the team involving dioxin bioremediation and the potential for inter-genera electron transfer as a means for increasing methanogenesis. As an enthusiastic volunteer, Aria enhanced her knowledge and experience of research to prepare her for Honours in 2016. She also intends to pursue post graduate studies in Medicine following the completion of her undergraduate degree. Email:

Xuly Labarrere was a student completing her BTEC Higher National Diploma in Reunion Island. She did an internship in the Manefield Group working on isolating oil-degrading bacteria to characterize them and identify them. Her internship brought her substantial knowledge about the laboratory practical but also the rigors of the completion of a project. Proven to be beneficial for the English language and its pursuit of study in Master’s Degree in Engineering in the field of environmental biology.

Shyam Prakaash S Bhagavata
 is a third year Bachelor of Medical Science student at UNSW with a keen interest in medical and environmental microbiology. As a volunteer student working as part of the Manefield team, he hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the field by assisting and observing investigations performed for the bacterial degradation of chlorinated solvents and crude oil from contaminated sites.

Tom Hackbarth is an undergraduate student from Munich, Germany. Currently he's studying Environmental Engineering at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), where he also met Mike Manefield. During his research practicum at the UNSW, he helps Miriam Kronen on her isoprene degradation project and is looking for an efficient closed-cycle system, with polyethylene packaging waste as a start and bio-plastics as the product.

Brittney Phillips
 visited the group for several months in 2017 with a Bachelor of Medicinal Chemistry (Hons) from La Trobe University where she did her Honours research investigating interspecies extracellular electron transfer in syntrophic co-cultures of known electrogens. She worked on the bioelectrochemistry and optimisation of biogas production from wastewater and coal.

Sofia Correa 
was a second-year Master student in Biology from the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) of Lyon (France). She did a five-month internship at UNSW in 2017 working on the enhanced biogas production.

Emma Ronca is an undergraduate student completing a bachelor of advanced science majoring in microbiology and molecular and cell biology. She is currently undertaking a SCIF internship, investigating the impact of sulfate reducing bacteria on the activity of organohalide respiring bacteria. She is excited about bacteria’s potential role in cleaning up the mess people have made of the land and in future environmentally friendly industries.

Yumeng Song completed a bachelor degree in Chemical and Energy Engineering from China University of Petroleum in 2015. She focussed on the process of transforming coal to oil and designing new materials with Zeolite and Amorphous Silica Aluminum with Core-Shell structure for improving the conversion efficiency of petroleum products. Aware of the pollution problems with petrochemicals she has developed an interest in generating energy from biomass. Yumeng is a CVEN9931 masters thesis student with the group in 2018.

Yicheng Zhang 
in the second year of a masters degree in environmental engineering at UNSW. He obtained a bachelor degree in Environmental Science from University of Alberta,  Canada in 2016. In his Bachelor program he drafted a report for the Alberta Forestry Department to evaluate the influences of a "skywalk" project. He is currently undertaking 
CVEN9931 interested in using advanced science and technology to deal with energy scarcity.

Ruiyi Ma
 is a 
CVEN9931 second year Master student and studying in Environmental Engineering. She finished her Bachelor Degree in Geography and Environmental Studies from USYD, 2016. In her Bachelor degree studies, she focus on global climate change and its possible impacts to Great Barrier Reef and try to use renewable energy to remit impacts of climate change. She is now interested in small scale biogas production.

Ziyu Zhuang
 is in the second year CVEN9931 student doing a master degree in environmental engineering at UNSW. He got a bachelor degree in environmental engineering in Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in 2016. In his bachelor degree, he focused on the assessment about heavy metal in the soil and crops in some polluted sites in Wuhan Province. He is now interested in the inhibition in dechlorination caused by PFAS.


Ge Li is a second-year postgraduate student of environmental engineering in UNSW doing CVEN9931. She finished her Bachelor Degree in Central South University of Forestry and Technology in Changsha, Hunan Province, China. In her Bachelor’s degree, she focused on “Constructed artificial wetland design & plant cultivation”. Her thesis topic now is related to bioremediation, specifically developing an assay for identifying enzymes responsible for dichloromethane degradation.

Mohamed Saleh is a final year undergraduate student undertaking a BE (Hons) of Chemical Engineering at UNSW (CEIC4002). He is currently working in the field of bioremediation where the goal is to remove toxic organohalide compounds from groundwater with a focus on inhibition of sulphate reducing bacteria (SRB). This will enable organohalide respiring bacteria (ORB) activity and thus result in removal of contamination. 

Fabliha Pritha
 is a fourth year Bachelor of Environmental Engineering student at The University of New South Wales, undertaking her honours thesis (CVEN4040) on the impact of PFAS on organochlorine biodegradation particularly if it inhibits dichloromethane fermentation to acetate by DCM. She has a year worth of industry experience in the Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) field. Her thesis topic perfectly fits into her passion for biology, chemistry, and sustainability.

Hamid Mehrazmay is in final year Bachelor of Environmental Engineering CVEN4050 student at The University of New South Wales, undertaking his thesis entitled Characterise the microbiology and chemistry of a leachate treatment system. He has experience in storm and waste water treatment as he is working at a water treatment company. His thesis topic absolutely matches with his interest and major in water treatment and sustainability field. 

Adjunct group members

Dr Federico Lauro was an adjunct Associate Professor with the group 2013-1017. He was born and raised in Venice, Italy.  He graduated from University of Padua and went on to obtain his PhD at Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO) at the University of California in San Diego, California (UCSD). He has pioneered experimental and computational sciences in deep-sea and Antarctic microbiology. In total, he has authored over 50  publications in high impact journals including Science and PNAS. Particularly noteworthy contributions include his 2009 first-author paper in PNAS which featured as the cover article with an associated PNAS Commentary. This publication described a mathematical model that predicts the behavior of marine bacteria from just their genome sequence. Federico brings his microbial community analysis skills to bear on the biogas and bioremediation portfolios of the group.


A/Prof Hosoda 
obtained his PhD from Kyushu University in Fukuoka and now works at Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan. His research interest has focused on biochemical exploitation of microbes to promote a better environment and society. After PhD studies, he worked on anaerobic aromatic hydrocarbon degradation enzymes from sulfate-reducing bacteria at the Marine Biotechnology Institute in Japan. Now he works
 on cultivation of methanogenic microcosms in oil contaminated sludge or paddy field soils, psychrophilic iron reducing bacteria affiliated with Geothrix sp. in oil contaminated sludge and isolation of halophilic iron oxidating bacteria affiliated with Acidihalobacter prosperusin the marine sludge. In Sydney he intends to clarify whether microbes involved in metal oxidation (or reduction) in mine environments conduct geochemical reactions through extracellular electron transfer.