I completed my Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Bachelor of Science (Veterinary) degrees at The University of Sydney. My BSc(Vet) involved research into the ecology and health of brushtail possums in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.
I undertook my PhD degree at James Cook University (Townsville), in collaboration with Taronga Zoo Conservation Society and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research Berghofer. My PhD focused on the immunology and epidemiology of chytridiomycosis in Australian frogs.
I was recently awarded an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award for the project: "Understanding infection tolerance to improve management of wildlife disease", to commence in 2021.
This project aims to investigate tolerance (the ability to limit the detrimental effects of infection) as a key animal defence strategy against disease. It focuses on diseases in natural systems, using the devastating amphibian fungal skin disease, chytridiomycosis, as a model. Expected outcomes include improved understanding of the relative importance of tolerance and resistance, and insight into the key immune and physiologic mechanisms underlying variations in tolerance. Anticipated benefits include improved strategies for mitigating infectious wildlife diseases via identifying targets for therapeutic interventions, ecological management and assisted-evolution strategies. This project should also benefit global amphibian conservation.
I am currently in the middle of an exciting project on amphibian chytridiomycosis (ARC Discovery Project DP180101415: "A novel modelling approach for understanding wildlife disease dynamics").
This project aims to develop a novel framework for field wildlife disease systems, applied to chytrid fungal infection of an endangered frog species as a case study. The project expects to develop models able to be applied to many disease systems, improve understanding of host resistance and tolerance to infection, and improve capacity for mitigation of emerging infectious diseases. This work should have international impact and provide significant national benefits in ensuring the conservation of Australia’s biodiversity.