BRITELab is the home of biology education research in the school BioSciences. Our group researches and evaluates innovative teaching practices in our Biosciences subjects. Research interests of BRITE include improving conceptual understanding of biological concepts, supporting scientific skill development, improving assessment design and online learning

Many scientists in the school study humans and human health: how the body develops, how it is affected by mutations, pathogens and the environment, and how it has evolved.

Particular areas of focus are the study of how life begins and carries on to the next generation, and how basic mechanisms of reproduction and development are disrupted by harmful chemicals and pollution in our environment as well as by genetic disorders. We study fundamental genetic mechanisms underlying development, homeostasis, disease, and physiology using powerful biomedical organisms such as fruit flies, zebrafish, marsupials, mouse, and humans themselves. We study how the body is assailed by pathogenic agents such as fungi and mosquito-borne pathogens that cause malaria and dengue fever and explore new strategies to combat these. Finally, we address our place on earth as a species, how our genomes have evolved and how our existing populations are structured.

The supervisors below have projects available in the area of Biotechnology and Translational researchThe living cell possesses extraordinary capabilities that allow it to sense and respond to its environment, metabolise nutrients required for growth and division and undergo changes in cell shape and function. All of these processes are under the control of the hereditary instructions or genes it expresses, from among the thousands in its genome.The Ecology and Conservation group applies ecological and evolutionary principles to the fields of wildlife, conservation and applied biology across a wide range of land animals (including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, a wide range of invertebrates, and some plant groups). Particular interests include the management of native and invasive species; habitat use and ecology of invertebrates and vertebrates; first-principles modelling of individual, population, and evolutionary dynamics; application of genomic techniques to biodiversity management; and terrestrial animals as bioindicators of environmental disturbance.Research groups in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Domain address both fundamental and applied questions spanning the breadth of the two disciplines. Our research includes quantitative risk assessment, ecological and species distribution modelling, vegetation mapping, integrative pest and disease management, conservation biology, marine and fisheries management, and behavioural ecology. We ask questions at different levels of organization from individuals through to assemblages and study a broad array of organisms that span aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.Insects and other small invertebrates make up the bulk of animal biodiversity and are critical to life. They pollinate crops, break down detritus, provide food for birds, fish and other animals, and improve soil structure. On the other hand, they also transmit diseases and damage plants. Masters projects in this area consider both beneficial and harmful insects in Australian ecosystems, and how to keep out unwanted invertebrates (biosecurity).The Evolution and Behaviour Group examines the behaviour and evolution of land animals at several levels, from genes to populations. Research on behaviour includes: visual signalling in birds, reptiles and insects; acoustic signalling in birds and amphibians; and chemical signalling in insects. Research in evolutionary biology investigates the evolutionary process that produced the diversity of life we see today. This includes the study of macro-evolutionary patterns of phenotypic diversity, phylogeny and taxonomy; biogeography and patterns of speciation; the origin, structure and maintenance of hybrid zones; sexual selection, including female choice and sperm competition; the evolution of co-operation in birds and invertebrates; and inter-specific relationships.

Marine biologists in the School of BioSciences work on a diversity of topics across marine organisms, their conservation and management. We conduct our research in temperate and tropical marine environments, from estuaries to the deep sea.

Together we investigate the:

  • Behaviour, ecology, evolution and biodiversity of marine organisms;
  • Effects of human disturbance on habitats, species and communities;
  • Technologies to improve the productivity of aquaculture and its environmental performance;
  • Adaptation of aquaculture and fishery management for climate change;
  • Ecological aspects of marine protected areas and fisheries management.
The groups based within Melbourne Integrate Genomics all apply various computational and experimental approaches to understand how genes shape living organisms, at large scale. Research includes the development of robust gene regulatory models with applications in synthetic biology, studies of human evolution at both the genetic and the experimental level, and tackling computational and statistical problems in population genetics, including helping to understand the complex HLA and KIR gene systems and the genomic basis of complex human traits.Microbes are both vital and problematic. Without them our world couldn't exist, but some cause us monumental grief. Understanding microbes helps us manage our environment, stay healthy and look after our crops, livestock and food supplies. Genetic tools have given us powerful means to understand these invisible organisms that impact our lives in myriad ways.Research groups within the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) domain use genetic, biochemical, molecular and cellular approaches to investigate and manipulate fundamental biological processes across species that span the tree of life. Researchers study a broad range of species from viruses and bacteria to plants and animals. We share research strengths in plant biology, genetics and reproduction. We are united though the use of molecular approaches but have varied applications and model species which create a rich and interdisciplinary environment with a broad diversity of course and research offerings to students.The fungi are a large group of over a million estimated microscopic and macroscopic species. They play fundamental roles in ecology, industry, and plant and animal diseases. The mycology and plant pathology focuses in the School are on both crop and human diseases, as well as investigation of fungal diversity. We apply molecular and field-based approaches to identify genes essential for disease, molecular mechanisms involved in virulence, genes and mechanisms involved in fungicide resistance and management strategies to minimise the deleterious impact of fungal diseases.

Life is dependent on plants: as the only organisms able to make their own food, these primary producers are vital to the world's ecosystems. From food, medicines, clothing and the air we breathe, we could not exist without them. Indeed, all of the research that occurs within the School of BioSciences is built upon the foundation of plant functions. Research groups in Plant Biology study a broad range of topics including:

  • Plant diversity, classification, biogeography and conservation
  • Plant growth and development
  • Plant cell wall biosynthesis and cell-cell communication
  • Plant nutrition and genetic engineering of crops to improve human nutrition (biofortification)
  • Plant breeding systems and self incompatibility
  • Plant defence against herbivory; plant secondary metabolites including cyanogenic compounds and the oils of eucalypts
  • Plant interactions with fungal pathogens
  • Evolution of plant, algal and protozoan cells, e.g., evolution of endosymbionts, the malaria parasite with its remnant chloroplast, and bio-mineralisation and bioadhesion of algal cell walls.

Students working in the plant biology field are eligible for support in the form of the generous scholarships and awards from the Botany Foundation.

Researchers in the Centre for Anthropogenic Pollution Impact and Management investigate the fate, behaviour, toxicity and management of pollution in the environment including in water, soil, air, light and waste. Our research covers human health and ecological sustainability including traditional pollutants (e.g. metals, nitrogen and hydrocarbons) as well as emerging contaminants such as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and microplastics. Outcomes from our research are used by government, industry and the community to make decisions and more safely manage polluted environments.The Population and Quantitative Genetics Group investigate the causes and consequences of genetic variation in natural populations. A broad range of statistical techniques such as Genome-Wide Association and Genomic Selection methods are used to explore the pattern and effect of molecular variation at the whole genome level. Biological models of interest include humans, plants and insects with an emphasis on biological questions related to human health and agriculture.The Reproduction and Development Groups study the very beginnings of life and factors that influence the growth and health of the embryo, foetus and offspring. Basic and biomedical research of mammalian systems focuses on the genetics and molecular control of early embryo development, sexual differentiation, environmental disruptors of development, stem cell biology, comparative genomics and reproductive physiology. Reproduction is the science of the transmission of life!


Alex Andrianopoulos

Microbial and developmental genetics

Anthony Boxshall

Marine ecology, coastal climate adaptation, pollution impact and management, and environmental sciences

Andrew Drinnan

Plant development, morphology, anatomy, architecture and evolution

Alex Fournier-Level

Adaptive evolution

Amanda Franklin

Visual ecology

Alexandra Harvey

Embryonic stem cells

Ary Hoffmann

Pest and environmental adaptation

Alexander Idnurm

Fungal biology

Alex Johnson

Plant and food biotechnology

Allyson O'Brien

Innovation and Impact in BioSciences Education

Axel Newton

Evolutionary and developmental biology

Allyson O'Brien

Marine pollution, ecology, and environmental management

Andrew Pask

Evolution, development and reproduction

Andrew Pomeroy

Coastal adaption, restoration, engineering and protection

Allison Van de Meene

Plant cell biology using high-end microscopy techniques

Angela Van de Wouw

Plant pathogen interactions

Andrew Weeks

Conservation biology

Berit Ebert

Plant cell wall biosynthesis

Brendan Houston

Genetics of male infertility, spermatogenesis and sperm function

Belinda van Heerwaarden

Climate change adaptation

Charles Robin

Insect population genetics and molecular evolution

Daniel Czech

Innovation and Impact in BioSciences Education

David Gardner

Reproductive biology

Devi Stuart-Fox

Evolutionary ecology

Elizabeth Bromfield

Redox biology, reproduction, germ cells, proteomics, lipid biochemistry

Edwin Lampugnani

Plant evolution and development

Ed Newbigin

Pollen biology

Fletcher Warren-Myers

Marine ecology and aquaculture

Geoffrey McFadden

Malaria and endosymbiosis

Lara Grollo

Innovation and Impact in BioSciences Education

Gerard Tarulli

Reproductive and developmental biology

Hayley Bugeja

Innovation and Impact in BioSciences Education

Heroen Verbruggen

Marine genomics and microbiology

Iliana Medina Guzman

Evolutionary ecology

Joanne Birch

Plant Evolution

Jessica Dunleavy

Male reproductive biology, cell biology, spermatogenesis

Jane Fenelon

Reproductive and developmental biology

Jennifer Fox

Innovation and Impact in BioSciences Education

John Golz

Developmental regulation and translational research

Joshua Heazlewood

Plant glycomics

James Maino

Insect spatial ecology

Justin Maire

Marine microbiology and coral reef conservation

John Morrongiello

Marine and freshwater ecology and evolution

Karen Rowe

Ecology and conservation, ecoacoustics

Luke Barrett

Marine ecology and sustainable aquaculture

Lisa Godinho

Innovation and Impact in BioSciences Education

Mike Bayly

Plant Evolution

Melissa Carew

Freshwater biological monitoring

Mark Elgar

Evolutionary ecology

Mark Green

Reproductive biology

Mike Haydon

Plant cell signalling

Mick Keough

Marine ecology

Margie Mayfield

Plant and insect community ecology

Moira O'Bryan

Male infertility and germ cell biology

Madeleine van Oppen

Marine ecology and evolution

Marilyn Renfree

Reproductive and developmental biology

Michael Kearney

Physiological ecology, climate change responses, metabolic ecology, insect conservation, grasshopper biology

Marc Somssich

The Role of the Cell Wall in Plant Immunity

Michael Stumpf

Theoretical systems biology

Matt West

Applied ecology and wildlife conservation

Michelle Watt

Plant root system discovery and application to human and environmental challenges in Earth and in Space

Nancy Endersby-Harshman

Insecticide resistance, ecology and population genetics

Nick Robinson

Aquaculture breeding and genetics

Nina Wedell

Evolutionary biology

Laura Bibiana Ospina Rozo

Biophotonics and bio-inspiration

Phil Batterham

Neurogenetics, behaviour and systems biology in insects

Pranali Deore

Microalgae and Advanced imagaing techniques

Ben Phillips

Population biology

Patricia Jusuf

Neural development and regeneration, and disease modelling and treatment screening

Perran Stott-Ross

Environmental stress, evolution, entomology and endosymbionts

Qiong Yang

Insect pest and endosymbionts

Rebecca Hull

Innovation and Impact in BioSciences Education

Rob Day

Abalone aquaculture, fisheries, shark fishery effects, Effects of marine climate change

Rebecca Morris

Marine ecology and coastal climate adaptation

Raoul Mulder

Behavioural ecology

Kevin Rowe

Integrative mammalogy: taxonomy, evolution, genomics, morphology, conservation biology

Robert Walker

Plant, soil and microbe interactions

Lauren Salo

Innovation and Impact in BioSciences Education

Simon Baxter

Applied insect genetics

Stephen Frankenberg

Development, reproduction, genomics, genetic biocontrol and synthetic biology

Stephen Leslie

Statistical and population genetics

Suzie Reichman

Pollution impact and management

Steve Swearer

Marine ecology and environmental science

Joshua Thia

Population genomics, evolutionary biology, and applied science

Therésa Jones

Behavioural ecology, Urban Light Pollution and Evolutionary Ecology

Tyrone Lavery

Integrative mammalogy: taxonomy, evolution, genomics, morphology, conservation biology

Vanessa R. Marcelino

Ecology of gut microbiomes

Vicky Waymouth

Soil microbes and rhizosphere interactions

Xinyue Gu

Molecular entomology,endosymbionts, environmental stress

Return to Research Themes