After completing an Honours degree in Biochemistry at La Trobe University, Travis worked for 12 months as a Research Assistant in the laboratory of Associate Professor Trevor Lithgow, investigating proteins associated with ribosomes which may be involved in targeting proteins to mitochondria. Travis went on to complete a PhD under Trevor's supervision using a proteomic approach to investigate surface proteins of the ribosome and the mitochondria. This approach identified two novel ribosome-associated proteins with potential roles in mitochondrial import, an RNA-binding protein and a molecular chaperone.
While at a conference in England, Travis met Dr Jamie Rossjohn, who was then at the St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research, and over a few beers, realised the potential to explore protein function via structural analysis. Upon returning to Australia, Travis collaborated with Jamie on crystallisation of the mitochondrial import receptor Tom70. At the end of his PhD, Travis was faced with the decision of whether to stay in Australia for postdoctoral training or take up a position overseas. During this time the Victorian state government announced the building of a national synchrotron facility at Monash University, prompting Travis to pursue postdoctoral studies in structural biology. Thus Travis began work with Jamie Rossjohn, who had since moved to Monash University to establish the Protein Crystallography Unit in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
One of the first proteins Travis worked on was a coral protein similar to GFP but Commassie blue in colour, a great protein to work with as fractions containing the protein could be identified without having to run SDS-PAGE. Travis was awarded an NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellowship enabling him to continue working in Jamie's laboratory, studying proteins from pathogenic microorganisms and expanding his skills base into biophysical characterisation of protein-protein interactions using techniques such as isothermal titration calorimetry, surface plasmon resonance and protein fluorescence. The Applied Biosystems Edman Award will enable Travis to attend the 10th IUBMB and 37th Brazilian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology conference titled 'Infectious Diseases: Biochemistry of Parasites, Vectors and Hosts' in Brazil. The knowledge gained from this conference will assist Travis to further enhance his research in pathogenic microorganisms.