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.
Leona completed her PhD in 2006 with Dee Carter at the University of Sydney. That study focused on determining the population genetic structure of the pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus gattii in Australia and Papua New Guinea, looking for evidence of sexual recombination in these natural communities. As a student, she had the opportunity to attend the Molecular Mycology course held at the Marine Biological Laboratories, Woods Hole, Massachusetts. There she connected with enthusiastic mycologists from around the world and develop a desire to expand her skills in the techniques of fungal molecular genetics. Between Feb 2006 and August 2009, Leona undertook postdoctoral research in St. Louis, Missouri with Jennifer Lodge. Whilst there, she received an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship to fund her studies into the global transcriptional response and recovery of Cryptococcus neoformans to oxidative stress. During these studies she gained extensive experience in all levels of molecular biology; genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic. In 2009, Leona returned to the Carter lab as a postdoctoral researcher where, while having a role in all ongoing projects, her main focus has been investigating the role of secreted proteins in host/pathogen interactions. A large part of Leona’s role as a postdoctoral researcher, and a part that she is very enthusiastic about, involves mentoring both undergraduate and postgraduate students. In 2014, Leona was appointed as a Professional Officer managing and teaching 2nd year undergraduate Microbiology labs at the University of Sydney. Fortunately, this new role still allows Leona to also continue in her postdoctoral position allowing her to focus on the things she enjoys the most, research mycology and introducing the next generation of scientists to the world of fungi!
Tracey recently graduated with her PhD from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University. Based at CSIRO in Brisbane, her research focused on dieback in 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. Using traditional mycology and novel molecular techniques, she examined the composition of fungal and bacterial endophyte communities in healthy and diseased plants, from native and invasive Parkinsonia populations. Tracey completed her Masters at Lund University in Sweden in 2012, writing her thesis in collaboration with RMIT University and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries. That work investigated host resistance in the tutsan (an invasive shrub) - Melampsora hypericorum (rust fungus) relationship. For her undergrad, Tracey completed a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Commerce at Deakin University, with a semester abroad at Jonkoping International Business School in Sweden. She is now employed with CSIRO Health and Biosecurity as a Research Assistant and at the University of Queensland teaching Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Tracey has a passion for encouraging children, especially girls, to study STEM subjects and has been involved in several Women in Science initiatives. Outside of work Tracey volunteers with Wildcare Australia, rescuing and rehabilitating native reptiles in SE Queensland. She spends weekends playing soccer or hiking in the forests around Brisbane looking for wildlife and interesting fungi.
Councillor: Genevieve Gates
Mycology and Forest Ecology
Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Private Bag 54, Hobart, TAS
Genevieve has been studying the taxonomy and ecology of Tasmanian fungi since 1998 and has been an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Tasmania from that time to the present. She did her Ph.D. on ‘Coarse woody debris, macrofungal assemblages and sustainable forest management’ (completed 2009). One of her special interests is in the family Entolomataceae and in collaboration with Dr Machiel Noordeloos of the Netherlands produced a monograph on the Entolomataceae of Tasmania (published in 2012). Other publications include ‘A Field Guide to Tasmanian Fungi’, and FungiFlip. Her current taxonomic project is the lepiotoid genera in Tasmania in collaboration with Dr Jerry Cooper in New Zealand. Genevieve is very involved with introducing the public to the fungi of Tasmania and travels around the state leading forays to ‘citizen scientists’. On the side, along with her editing studies for Phytotaxa, she likes to make regular excursions to Cusco, Peru to teach fungal taxonomy at the Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco (UNSAAC).
Jeff is a Senior Lecturer in Ecological Bioinformatics at the University of Western Sydney in Richmond, NSW. He became interested in mycorrhizal fungi as a PhD student at the University of Guelph, Canada, where he studied the impacts of genetically modified crops and their management on soil biota (and managed to turn a very large number of nonsignificant statistical results into a dissertation in 2008). He pursued these interests as a postdoc at the Freie Universitaet Berlin until 2011, when he joined the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at UWS. His current research is largely focussed on community dynamics in mycorrhizal and other root-associated fungal communities, attempting to understand the mechanisms underlying these processes, their effects on ecosystem properties, and how they are impacted by environmental change. He works in a variety of systems, but most of his focus is on dual (arbuscular and ecto-) mycorrhizal symbioses in Eucalyptus spp. and interactions between plant and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal hyphal traits in mediating mycorrhizal multifunctionality (nutrient uptake, pathogen protection, soil aggregation, etc.). And while he does occasionally enjoy getting his hands dirty, he’s very happy sitting in front of his computer playing with data (or teaching students how to use R).
Secretary: Laszló Irinyi
Westmead Institute for Medical Research Institute
Molecular Mycology Research Laboratory
University of Sydney, Sydney Medical School, NSW
Email : email@example.com
Laszlo did a degree in Biology with specialization in microbiology at the University of Debrecen, Hungary. He became interested in mycology as a student while he was working on oenological studies leading to the identification and strain selection of economically important wine yeasts from Hungary's best-known wine region. Further, during doctoral research he studied the molecular taxonomy and phylogeny for the species/strain identification of economically important plant pathogenic fungi in combination with traditional phenotypic identifications. Completing his PhD in 2009, he worked as research assistant at the Department of Plant Protection, University of Debrecen where he studied population genetics, biocontrol and antifungal resistance of various plant pathogens.
In 2013, he moved to Australia as a postdoctoral fellow at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research Institute in the Molecular Mycology Research Laboratory where he works on the identification of human and animal pathogenic fungi. He is the curator of the International Society of Human and Animal Mycology (ISHAM)-ITS reference DNA barcoding database for human and animal pathogenic fungi. His focus is on the development and application of dual DNA barcoding using new generation sequencing (NGS) technologies to allow fast, accurate and cost effective identification of fungal pathogens.
Councillor: Bevan Weir
Systematics Team, Landcare Research, Private Bag 92170, Auckland, New Zealand.
Bevan studied at the University of Auckland gaining a BTech (Hons) degree in Biotechnology before doing a PhD in Microbiology at 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 discover a love for the fascinating world of fungi.
In 2008 he started postdoctoral research back at Landcare 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 Subcomission on Colletotrichum Taxonomy.
He is now employed by Landcare Research as a research scientist working on bacterial and fungal systematics, particularly of 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 Landcare and is attempting to increase the representation of cultivable native mushrooms in the collection. Within Landcare he also has a leadership role in the Ecological genetics company EcoGene®.
Outside work Bevan is treasurer 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. In his role as councillor of the AMS he intends to strengthen ties between AMS and FUNNZ, including helping to organise the joint meeting in 2016.
Non-voting council members
Immediate Past President: John Dearnaley
School of Agricultural, Computational & Environmental Sciences,
Faculty of Health, Engineering & Sciences,
The University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, QLD
John completed a PhD on the cell biology of the dieback fungus, Phytophthora cinnamomi at the ANU in 1993. He became enamoured with mycorrhizal systems when he carried out postdoctoral research on orchid mycorrhizas with Peter McGee at Sydney University from 1994-1995. After a two and a half year postdoctoral position in Toronto, Canada working on the cell biology of self-incompatibility mechanisms in plants, he took up an academic position at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, Queensland in 1998. His research is focussed on plant-fungal interactions including mycorrhizas, endophytic associations and plant pathology. A particular recent focus has been the molecular identification of mycorrhizal and endophytic fungi from Australian native plants. Such studies have identified many new fungal species and revealed previously hidden aspects of the associations these fungi have with plants. His current research interests are focussed on documenting the microbial health of agricultural soils using modern DNA sequencing methods, investigating the capacity for symbiotic fungi to alleviate abiotic stress in crops and the molecular taxonomy of endophytic fungi in crop, weed and native plants.
John teaches microbiology, genetics and molecular biology in the School of Agriculture, Computational and Environmental Sciences at the University of Southern Queensland
Student Representative: Sheena Chua
Fungal Pathogenesis Lab
School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
The University of Queensland
Rm 356, Molecular Biosciences Building
Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
Sheena majored in Biomedical Science in University of Queensland and graduated in 2015. She continued with an honours degree the following year under supervision of A/Prof James Fraser and Professor Bostjan Kobe in University of Queensland, studying and characterising enzymes of the purine biosynthesis pathway in Cryptococcus neoformans, an opportunistic human fungal pathogen which causes meningoencephalitis in immunocompromised individuals. After graduating with an Honours degree in 2016, her interests in the field of genetics, structural biology, and microbiology resulted her in continuing and expanding this research by pursuing a PhD in the same laboratory, where she is using the purine biosynthesis pathway to identify potential drug targets as well as investigating the presence of the purinosome.
Past Presidents of AMS
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
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 somehow 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 is head of MIcrobiology. She was president of AMS from 2009-2012. She designed and has been running the website since 2009.