Since I commenced my PhD in 2002, my career has focused on mitochondrial biogenesis. Mitochondria play an essential role in cell biology, and the organelle and the many functions ascribed to it continue to surprise mitochondrial enthusiasts and cell biologist alike. I undertook my PhD under the supervision of Professor Mike Ryan at La Trobe University. At the time, the field of mitochondrial morphology was rapidly emerging, using baker’s yeast as a model. We researched the mechanisms governing mitochondrial morphology in mammalian cells and were one of three international groups to identify and characterise hFis1, the first mitochondrial localised protein involved in mammalian mitochondrial fission.
In 2006, as an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow, I embarked on an international postdoc and joined the lab of Professor Nikolaus Pfanner, a world leader in mitochondrial research, at the University of Freiburg in Germany. My research explored the mechanisms governing mitochondrial protein import and assembly within the mitochondrial outer membrane and intermembrane space.
In 2009, I returned to Australia as a postdoctoral fellow and member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coherent X-ray Science (CXS). I began working on the biogenesis of the pro-apoptotic protein Bak with Professor Mike Ryan and, in 2010, I was awarded an Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship, enabling me to establish an independent research group at La Trobe University. During this time, I developed my research dealing with protein trafficking to and within mitochondria. In 2013, I was recruited as the Biochemistry Fund Fellow to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne. Within my new role, I will continue my research on mitochondrial biogenesis with a particular focus on protein trafficking and the greater implications on mammalian cell physiology when defects in this essential process arise.
I have had excellent mentors, beginning with my PhD supervisor, Professor Mike Ryan. My time in Freiburg with Professor Pfanner was instrumental in my development, and his professionalism and attention to detail have shaped me as a scientist. Upon returning to Australia, I received fantastic mentorship from senior staff at La Trobe, including Professor Nick Hoogenraad and Professor Marilyn Anderson, and now, in my new position at the University of Melbourne, Professor Paul Gleeson and Professor Leann Tilley have provided me with invaluable direction and support. I am extremely grateful to each of these amazing scientists for their advice and direction along the way!