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The AMS Council

Members of the AMS council are elected yearly and serve a maximum of 3 years (president and vice-president) or 6 years (secretary, treasurer, councillors). For a nomination form to be elected to the council click here.

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President: Jonathan Plett

Associate Professor
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Western Sydney University, NSW

Twitter: @FungiDownUnder

Email:  ausmycsoc.president@gmail.com

 

Jonathan Plett joined the team at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University in October 2012. He holds a Ph.D. in biology from Queen's University in Canada in developmental biology where he specialized in the molecular dissection of hormone signaling pathways.  Jonathan became interested in mycology during his post doctoral research at L'Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), France, where he worked on functionally characterizing small secreted protein signals that coordinate symbiosis between plants and soil-borne mutualistic fungi – an interaction that is essential for the continued health and productivity of forests.  Currently Jonathan is working on a range of projects centering around the biology of both mutualistic and pathogenic fungi that interact with a range of ecologically and agronomically important plant species.  Specifically, his research seeks to identify and understand how signals are sent and perceived by plants and their associated microbiota to coordinate development and support ecosystem resilience. This work will extend global understanding of the basic biology that enables plants and microbes to co-exist and to extend our  predictions into how environmental extremes such as heat and elevated levels of CO2 affect the balance in plant-microbe interactions.

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Secretary: Johanna Wong-Bajracharya

Research Officer, NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) Plant Biosecurity Research & Diagnostics

Email : ausmycsoc@gmail.com

Johanna is a molecular biologist with a research focus on molecular plant-microbial interactions. She completed her BSc in Biology and MPhil in Molecular Biotechnology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong before moving to Australia in 2016 for her PhD at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University. In her PhD study, she aimed to gain an understanding of the below-ground molecular signalling between eucalypt roots and soil fungi using molecular and bioinformatic techniques. Her studies involved soil fungi of different lifestyles such as the mutualistic ectomycorrhizal fungus Pisolithus microcarpus and the pathogenic fungus Armillaria luteobubalina. She compared the different molecular signals that enable mutualistic ectomycorrhizal symbiosis from those that trigger defence responses. She also explored small RNA crosstalk involved in tree-fungal symbiosis. After completing her PhD, she worked as a research associate at the University of Technology Sydney and was involved in the development of metagenomic workflows for antimicrobial resistance detection. In November 2020 she joined the plant biosecurity team in the Department of Primary Industries NSW. Her current role focuses on the development and optimization of molecular diagnostic assays for exotic and endemic plant pathogens that pose a threat to the Australian agroforestry industry.

 

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Councillor: Camille Truong

Research Scientist (Mycologist)

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, VIC

Email: Camille.Truong@rbg.vic.gov.au

Twitter: @CamilleTruong3

Camille is a Research Scientist at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne. She did her PhD at the University of Geneva and was a postdoc/research fellow at Duke University, University of Florida and the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In parallel to her graduate studies, she worked as Assistant Curator in the fungal collections of the Botanical Gardens of Geneva in Switzerland, her home country. Her research integrates natural history collections with state-of-the-art molecular tools to unravel the diversity of fungi and their interactions with other organisms. Her initial interests focused on lichen-forming fungi, and now consider how ectomycorrhizal fungi play important roles in the establishment, growth and health of trees and other vascular plants. She has been conducting field expeditions in temperate and tropical forests of Europe, the Americas, Africa and Australasia, and was the recipient of a Maxwell/Hanrahan Awards in Field Biology in 2023. Camille is dedicated to build capacity in her field and founded the video blog What we are reading for the South American Mycorrhizal Research Network. She also acts in the research award committee of the Mycological Society of America. Outside of work Camille enjoys riding her bicycle and climbing mountains.

Vice President:

Bevan Weir

Systematics Team, Landcare Research,

Email: weirb@landcareresearch.co.nz

Bevan studied at the University of Auckland gaining a BTech (Hons) degree in Biotechnology before doing a PhD in Microbiology at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research studying the native nitrogen-fixing bacteria ‘rhizobia’ of New Zealand. He then spent two years working various contract jobs such as for MAF Biosecurity NZ developing diagnostic tests, and describing the novel bacterium 'Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum', and as a grapevine pathologist for Corbans Viticulture where he discovered a love for the fascinating world of fungi.

In 2008 he started postdoctoral research back at Manaaki Whenua working on the taxonomy of the important plant pathogenic fungus Colletotrichum, contributing to a major revision of the genus, and is secretary of the International Subcommission on Colletotrichum Taxonomy.

He is now employed by Manaaki Whenua Research as the research leader for Mycology and Bacteriology Systematics. Bevan works on the taxonomy of bacteria, fungi, and chromists (particularly plant pathogens), and has a strong interest in applying modern methods of phylogenetic reconstruction and statistical analysis to systematics. Bevan is also curator of the ICMP culture collection held by Manaaki Whenua and is increasing the representation of cultivable native mushrooms in the collection.

Outside work Bevan is councillor and webmaster of the Fungal Network of New Zealand (FUNNZ) mycological society and is a keen observer of fungi having reported several new to New Zealand species, including from his own backyard.

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Treasurer: Jordan Bailey

Curator, NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) Plant Pathology & Mycology Herbarium

Email: ausmycsoc.treasurer@gmail.com

Jordan discovered the world of Herbaria as an intern at the National Herbarium in Sydney. Following her degree in Agricultural Science, Jordan undertook postgraduate studies in plant pathology, biosecurity, and diagnostics. She went on to work with herbaria in the USA at Purdue University and the United States Department of Agriculture, National Fungus Collections, focusing on specimen digitization and taxonomy and systematics of fungal pathogens.

 

Jordan returned to Australia to take on the role of Curator at the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) Plant Pathology & Mycology Herbarium in Orange in 2017. In 2020, Jordan was appointed Director of the NSW DPI Orange Agricultural Institute, a role that aims to promote the work of DPI scientists in Orange.

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Councillor: Anna Hopkins

Senior Lecturer

Edith Cowan University

Perth, WA

Email:  a.hopkins@ecu.edu.au

 

Anna is a Senior Lecturer in conservation biology and environmental science in the School of Science at Edith Cowan University in Perth. Anna is also the postgraduate coursework coordinator in Environmental Science and Bioinformatics. Anna’s love for fungi started as an honours student at the University of Western Australia where she undertook a joint project with CSIRO examining methods for reintroducing mycorrhizal fungi into revegetation plantings in the WA wheatbelt. She then did a PhD at the University of Tasmania in collaboration with the CRC for Forestry and CSIRO. Her research examined the impact of forest management practices on the wood-decay fungi of wet eucalypt forests in southern Tasmania. During this time Anna also worked as a sessional lecturer at the University of Tasmania teaching plant pathology and mycology. Anna then turned her focus to fungal plant pathogens and undertook an industry postdoctoral position at Scion in New Zealand where she investigated the ecology of the invasive forest pathogen Neonectria fuckeliana. As part of this postdoc Anna spent time in Sweden and Denmark investigating the pathogen in its native range. This led to a three-year research fellowship at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science in Uppsala, Sweden where Anna worked on an EU project examining the impact of invasive pests and pathogens under climate change. In 2013, Anna returned to Perth first to Murdoch University and then to a teaching and research position at Edith Cowan University. Her research interests include understanding the impact of disturbances such as drought and urbanisation on soil microbes, fungal-plant-fauna interactions and using eDNA techniques to answer broad ecological and management-based questions. Outside of work, Anna is a mama to two primary school-aged children and enjoys swimming and bushwalking.

Non-voting council members

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Immediate Past President:

Tracey Steinrucken

 

CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, QLD

Email: tvsteinrucken@gmail.com

Twitter: @tvsteinrucken

Tracey is a Plant Pathology Research Scientist at CSIRO. She has just completed her Postdoctoral Research with CSIRO H&B working in collaboration with Biosecurity Queensland on biological control of the five weedy Sporobolus grass species using endemic fungal pathogens. Tracey studied at Deakin University for her undergrad and then did her Masters of Science (Plant Ecology) at Lund University in Sweden with her thesis as a collaboration with RMIT University (Melbourne) and the Victorian Department of Primary Industries. Her research was on biological control of invasive tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum) with a rust fungus (Melampsora hypericorum). She then started her PhD based at CSIRO Health and Biosecurity in Brisbane, while enrolled at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University. Her PhD focused on fungal pathogen-mediated dieback of the invasive tree, Parkinsonia aculeata and its potential as a biocontrol agent. Part of her PhD was spent as a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar hosted by the Garbelotto Lab at the University of California Berkeley. She has also worked as a consultant to Meat and Livestock Australia and QUT on pasture dieback, as a Research Assistant for CSIRO H&B (weed biological control with insects),

During Tracey's time on the AMS council, she was Treasurer for 3 years and then took over as President as the COVID-19 Pandemic hit. Tracey was instrumental in setting up and hosting the Monthly Virtual Seminar Series, a now-established event which she is very proud of. Outside of work Tracey is a Mum and spends weekends playing soccer or hiking in the forests around Brisbane looking for wildlife and interesting fungi.

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Webmaster: Dee Carter

 

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, NSW 


Email: dee.carter@sydney.edu.au

 

Dee did a degree in microbiology and biochemistry at Otago University, New Zealand, where she became captivated by molecular biology and its application to microorganisms.  She then moved to London and undertook a PhD at Imperial College on mapping avirulence genes in Phytophthera infestans.  After a two-year stint in Montpellier, France, working on Alzheimer’s disease, she gladly returned to the fungal world and took up a postodoctoral fellowship in California at Roche Molecular Systems and UC Berkeley. PCR had just opened the world of phylogenetics and molecular ecology to microbiology, and the Berkeley lab was at the forefront of applying this to the fungi and had just moved into medical mycology; Dee and colleagues worked on the endemic pathogens Coccidioides immitis and Histoplasma capsulatum and used molecular population genetics to prove that supposedly asexual fungi like Coccidioides are able undergo sexual exchange when no-one is looking.  Dee moved to Australia in 1995 to take up a lectureship at the University of Sydney, where she has continued her interest in the population genetics and ecology of medically important fungi, with a focus on the local pathogen Cryptococcus gattii. In recent years, Dee’s research group has expanded their interests to investigate genes and proteins that are expressed by Cryptococcus during mammalian infection and antifungal treatment. The aim of this work is to identify therapeutic and diagnostic markers for the treatment of fungal diseases, which remains extremely difficult. As well as research, Dee teaches undergraduate microbiology and molecular biology within the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Sydney University, and was head of Microbiology until August 2020. She was president of AMS from 2009-2012. She designed and has been running the website since 2009.

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Australian Student Representative: 

Christina Stephenson

University of Queensland, QLD 

Email:  christina.stephenson@uq.net.au

Christina graduated in 2017 with a duel degree in Genetics and Archaeology at the University of Queensland. In 2018 she completed an Honours year with the Fungal Pathogenesis lab under the supervision of Prof. James Fraser within the School of Chemistry and Molecular biology at UQ. Her project focused on characterising a major component of the transcriptional cofactor protein complex, SAGA. The SAGA complex heavily influences the virulence traits of the pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans.  She is currently pursuing her PhD within the same field of research, focusing on epigenetics and proteomics changes associated with mutations within the SAGA complex. In her spare time, she cultivates gourmet native mushrooms using a greenhouse and reptile humidifier in lieu  of a laminar flow and incubator chamber; because who really wants to separate work and home-life when dealing with fungi.  

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New Zealand Student Representative: 

Fionnuala Bulman 

Lincoln University

Email:

Finn started her academic journey with a Bachelor in Biomedical Sciences at Otago University and then moved to Germany to earn a Masters in Molecular Medicine. Her fascination with fungi began during her master's thesis project working with Candida albicans in the Fungal Septomics lab at the University of Jena. 

 

After deciding to align her academic direction more closely with her love of the natural world, she is now pursuing a PhD in soil microbial ecology at Lincoln University, studying the role of mycorrhizal fungi in resilient soil ecosystems. The aspect of the project she enjoys most is spending time sampling on the beautiful East Cape of New Zealand, where she hopes to add to local knowledge around the biological component of these soils and best land management practices in the face of our changing climate.

Past Presidents of AMS

2020 2023  : President Tracey Steinrucken; Vice President Bevan Weir

2017 – 2020  :  President Leona Campbell; Vice President Jeff Powell

2015  – 2017  :  President John Dearnaley; Vice President Julie Djordjevic

2012  – 2014  :  President Diana Leemon; Vice President Peter McGee

2009 – 2012  :  President Dee Carter;  Vice President Diana Leemon

2007 – 2009  :  President Teresa Lebel;  Vice President Bettye Rees

2006                :  President Geoff Ridley

2003 – 2005  :  President Wieland Meyer

1998 – 2002  :  President Cheryl Grgurinovic

1995 – 1997   :  President Jack Simpson

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