Team leader

Professor Mike Manefield
 After completing a PhD in Australia in 2000 on the ability of algal metabolites to inhibit bacterial quorum sensing Mike spent four years in the UK developing and applying RNA stable isotope probing. After returning to Australia in 2004 he developed a team of experts in the reductive biodegradation of organohalides, the biotransformation of complex organic matter to methane and biofilm formation and control. He has acquired over $17 million in research funding, published over 125 articles and supervised 15 PhDs and over 20 BSc Honours students to 
completion. Click here for an extended biography. 

Deputy Leader

Dr Matthew Lee is a senior research associate in the team. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Western Australia in 2006. The focus of this work was to gain an understanding of the flux alkaloidal compounds with in plants that confer them with protection against predation. Since then Matt has been part of the Manefield research team. His research interests lie in reductive dechlorination of organochlorine solvents. Matt was the first in the world to publish the discovery of a bacterial culture that can transform chloroform into harmless end products. Email:

Research Associates

Dr Anahit Penesyan After completing her PhD at the UNSW (Australia) Ani joined the research group of Prof Ian Paulsen at Macquarie University in 2011 where she was investigating antibiotic resistance in the hospital pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii. In 2012-2014, as an Australian Research Council Super Science Fellow, Ani explored adaptations and interactions between microorganisms, and between microorganisms and the host, in cystic fibrosis using multi-omics approaches. She has led research on microbial biofilms, with a particular focus on mechanisms underlying the resistance of microbial biofilms to environmental stressors, including antibiotics. Ani joined the Manefield group in 2019 to study microbial-mediated organohalide degradation and physiological processes in biofilms. 
Ani has a widely recognised expertise is using genomics/transcriptomics/bioinformatics to understand microbial interactions, their adaptation & evolution, as well as biofilms, antibiotic resistance, and microbial physiology/ecology. Email:

Dr Önder Kimyon obtained his BSc from the Biochemistry Department of Ege University, Turkey and graduated with an MSc from UNSW in 2012. His MSc project focused on the role of quorum sensing in chitinase activity in wastewater treatment. His PhD research explored the role of  acylated homoserine lactones (AHLs) produced by activated sludge strains in extracellular enzyme production and redox active compound production. Email:

Dr Valentina Mendez joins us from Valparaiso, Chile. She obtained her Bsc in Biochemistry, in the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso (PUCV), and completed her PhD at the PUCV in a joint program with the Technical University Federico Santa Maria (UTFSM) in 2017. Valentina has expertise in characterizing bacterial degradation pathways for aromatic and petroleum-derived compounds using genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic approaches. Some of her research areas has included: Genomic and functional analysis of aromatic catabolic pathways in environmental bacteriaBioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbonsNovel biotransformation products by engineered bacterial dioxygenases, Oxidative stress in bacteria during aromatic catabolismGenomic analysis and comparative genomics in environmental and plant-pathogen bacteria. Valentina joined the Manefield group in 2019 as a Research Associate on an ARC Linkage Project to study biogeochemical remediation for PFAS contaminated environments. Email:

Dr. Haluk Ertan is a visiting professorial fellow in our team and is originally from Istanbul University, Turkey. Dr. Ertan’s main research interest has focused on bacterial and archaeal metabolisms. Initially he worked on the ammonia assimilatory enzymes of the bacterium which is a glutamic acid overproducer. After Ph.D. studies, he had concentrated on the production, purification, kinetic-thermodynamic characterization and the stabilization of penicillin G acylase from a mutant of E. coli. In 2003, during his first visit in Dr. R. Cavicchioli’s group, he had worked on the carbon and nitrogen metabolisms of oligotrophic and cold-adapted microorganisms such as S. alaskensis and M. burtonii, respectively. In his second visit in the same lab., he had been worked on
the characterization of the functional properties of a hybrid versatile peroxidase from B. adjusta and on cold-adapted proteases from the cold growing Pseudomonas strain. In our group, he will work on the genomic and proteomic data from Dehalobacter sp. strain UNSWDHB.

Postgraduate Students

Sophie Holland is a PhD student who joined the group in February 2016. She has BSc (Microbiology) from UNSW and completed her Honours project with the group in 2014. Sophie is interested in the practical applications of environmental microbiology, particularly for bioremediation of organochlorines. Her current research focuses on the genetics and metabolism of the chloroform-respiring isolate Dehalobacter sp. UNSWDHB.

Ms Iris HU (Miao HU)
 is a PhD student from China who joined the team in semester 2, 2016. In 2014, she completed her first PhD degree in Ecology from the Northeast Agricultural University in China. Her previous research was mainly focused on the development of anaerobic trichloroethylene-degrading consortium and its pyrosequencing analysis. Iris is interested in the anaerobic degradation of organochlorines. Her current research focuses on metabolism of dichloromethane-degrading consortium.

Priyanka Srivastava completed a Bachelor degree (Hons) in 2009 and a Masters degree in microbiology in 2011 from the Institute of Applied Medicine and Research, India. She worked for two years on treatment of cancer cells with different drugs in Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, India and joined The Energy and Resource Institute, India in 2014 as Project associate and started working on involvement of delta-6-desaturase in conversion of linoleic acid into gamma- linoleic acid that includes transformation of BL-21 DE3 cells by pET28a plasmid having desD gene having p53 as constitutive promoter linked with it. She joined UNSW in 2017 as part of the AISRF project team.

James Bevington has a passion for anything science and researches space life sciences working to determine the boundaries of life as we know it. His current work as a PhD student in Chemical Engineering at UNSW involves several experiments to be conducted on the International Space Station. His project will investigate anaerobic digestion in microgravity as method to produce fuel and determine the plausibility of life on Mars as an explanation of the excess methane found there. With education in engineering, earth sciences, space studies, and now microbiology, James is uniquely qualified to tackle such multidisciplinary projects. He holds an B.S. in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Tennessee, M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Georgia, and an M.Sc. from the International Space University. 

Linjie Tang. After completing his undergraduate degree of Environmental Engineering at University of Wisocnsin-Platteville, Linjie pursued for a Master degree in the same field at UNSW. With a passion for doing more for the environment, he is now a PhD candidate at UNSW researching the possibility of pre-treatment methods on food waste feedstock used for anaerobic digestion to improve the efficiency of the process.

Research Masters Students 

Gan Liang is a master student from China. He obtained his bachelor degree in Environmental Engineering from Sun Yat-sen University, China in 2017. Gan’s project in his bachelor years was to study the application of autotrophic nitrogen removal by ANAMMOX process. Currently, his master project in UNSW focuses on Dioxin biodegradation in Sydney Harbor sediment.

Mol Mulyono obtained a B.Sc from Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB ), Indonesia, majoring in Microbiology. He worked as researcher at the Agency for Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) before pursuing a Masters by Research at the School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW, with sponsor from Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP). He is investigating the combined roles of bacteria, fungi and earthworms in remediation of hydrocarbons in soil matrices.

ZongZong Liu completed his Bachelor degree in chemical engineering from China University of Petroleum (East China), in 2017. ZongZong conducted research on the simulation of adsorption behavior of methane in ZSM-5 zeolite. ZongZong joined the Manefield group in 2019 to undertake a Masters research project with a focus on constructing artificial activated sludge for nitrogen removal in municipal wastewater.    


Thesis and Honours Students

For student induction for laboratory access to facilities in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering click here.