Our Team

Our Team

Dr. Skye Thomas-Hall : Team leader for the Algae Biotechnology Group and site manager for the Algae Energy Farm.

Dr. Skye Thomas-Hall

Team leader for the Algae Biotechnology Group and site manager for the Algae Energy Farm.

I manage the diverse algae research projects performed by PhD and honours students working with Schenk Lab. My main interests centre around the production and processing of microalgae for nutraceuticals such as omega 3 fatty acids, carotenoids and pigments.
I have extensive experience in large scale low cost algae cultivation, the main focus being production of biomass as a high protein feed supplement for livestock and aquaculture. The long term vision for microalgae is the sustainable production of biofuels, this is what sparked my initial interest in microalgae. ​

Dylan Kreis : Algae Energy Farm Manager

Dylan Kreis

Algae Energy Farm Manager

Dylan manages the University of Queensland Algae Farm, assisting research projects performed by PhD and honours students.

He has significant experience as a Chemical Engineer and Farm manager for a micro algae. He has gained experience working over the last five years with Algae, as a production engineer and operations manager.

Mahdi Asadirad : PhD student

Mahdi Asadirad

PhD student

Currently, I'm researching at Pinjarra Hills algae farm to cultivate duckweed for experimental testing in pigs and chicken diet as an alternative protein sources.

My research topic is: Alternative protein ingredients to replace soybean meal for sustainable livestock production systems

Dr. Swaminathan Detchanamurthy : Scientist

Dr. Swaminathan Detchanamurthy


Swami is a micro algal bioprocessing scientist and a Chartered Chemical Engineer (IChemE, UK) working in Prof. Schenk Lab at University of Queensland. He has diverse international experience in science and engineering to work with different kinds of micro algae to produce value added products from lab scale to commercialization scale for the past 15 years.

Xiaoxue Xu : PhD Student

Xiaoxue Xu

PhD Student

My research project is plant-microbe interactions for improved plant growth and disease resistance. I am interested in rhizosphere microbe and trying to build a golden triangle system with plant, microbe and soil amendment to improve crop production. At the same time, I will start a microbe evolution against plant pathogens, especially Phytophthora to reduce crop loss.

Xuan Ji : PhD student

Xuan Ji

PhD student

Research directions:bacteria-microalgae-plant interactions. Explore bacteria effects on microalgal growth and high-value product production. Microalgae promote plant growth and soil restoration.

Maria Batool : PhD Student

Maria Batool

PhD Student

am Maria Batool from Pakistan and I am a PhD scholar at The University of Queensland Australia. I work on assessing the effects of PGPB towards growth and development of plants in vitro and in field conditions. Following the approach of “targeted microbiome engineering”, my primary research focuses on engineering plant rhizospheric microbiome by recruitment of potential abiotic stress-alleviating PGP rhizobacteria (PGPR) in the natural soil with certain soil amendments which can then interfere with the plants’ defence pathways and alleviate stress from the plants while promoting their growth. The long-term goal of this research is to evaluate commercial feasibility of these potential soil amendments and validate their long-term impacts on the soil microbiome and crop productivity under stress conditions.

Ainnatul Adawiyah Ahmad Termizi : PhD Student

Ainnatul Adawiyah Ahmad Termizi

PhD Student

Ainna graduated with Bachelor of Biotechnology (Honours First Class), dual majors in Plant Biotechnology & Innovation Management from the University of Queensland. After graduation she joined a management trainee program by the Central Bank of Malaysia and professionally trained in consumer and commercial banking, credit approval, credit documentation, credit supervision and credit recovery. She was then awarded a position as a Credit Analyst at Agrobank Kuala Lumpur for over 3 years to evaluate financing applications by identifying all pertinent credit risk issues and propose the appropriate measures plans to mitigate the risks. She is also a certified Credit Executive by Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers. She decided to return to academia after securing a full scholarship from the University of Queensland to do her PhD at Schenk Lab. She is currently working on sustainable extraction of red carotenoid astaxanthin from microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis, with hope to commercialise edible cosmetic products derived from this high-value microalgae to provide a safe, sustainable, vegan and organic alternative to existing toxic cosmetic in the market. She is also passionate about communicating her PhD research to public using social media platform under the name microalgaemama

Ken Killeen : PhD Student

Ken Killeen

PhD Student

Ken studied Biotechnology at Griffith University before working in diagnostic biochemistry for nearly a decade. He spends his free time as a wildlife carer and a ‘mad scientist’, tinkering in his home lab.
Recently, he has returned to academia at UQ where he graduated Bachelor of Science with Honours First Class, and was awarded a PhD placement and scholarship.
He is currently working on industrialised recovery of fuels and other valued commodities from microalgae, with hope to impact the growing climate, food and energy crises that face us in the early 21st Century.

“Every human being has a born-duty, to ensure the sound stewardship and continuum of this Biosphere. To preserve its fragile and bewildering diversity at all costs; on this planet and the many worlds that await us. We are the custodians of all Terran Life! A profound responsibility!” K. Killeen.

Eugenie Singh : Honors Student

Eugenie Singh

Honors Student

I am interested in studying the phyllosphere microbiome of plants for biological interactions that inhibit the progression of  foliar (leaf surface) diseases. This research is of utmost importance as it provides potentially new biocontrol application agents that can contribute to crop protection.

Dr. Hooman Mirzaee : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Hooman Mirzaee

Postdoctoral Fellow

My research has mainly focused on finding new antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) especially bacteriocins. To achieve this goal I apply two different approaches culturable and unculturable methods. In addition, I have plans to introduce some AMP genes to plants and investigate the level of resistance in challenge with pathogens.

Alexander Arkhipov : PhD Student

Alexander Arkhipov

PhD Student

Soil bacteria provide significant benefits to plants by increasing nutrient uptake and defense against diseases. My current research focuses on the use of natural bioactive compounds isolated from specific soil bacteria as biopesticides for improving crop plants resistance against destructive fungi and oomycetes.
My future work will involve microbiome engineering and selecting microbiome-optimized plants. New approach of "microbiome breeding" will be used for a number of crop plants in natural soils by continuously selecting those plant-associated microbiomes that stimulate plant growth the most. Outputs from this project include customized, more stable plant-microbe interactions, breeding of crop-optimized microbiomes and selection of microbe-optimized cultivars. The expected outcomes will further advance our knowledge in beneficial plant-microbiome interactions leading to significant increases in the crop productivity and improvements in plants tolerance against abiotic and biotic stresses, thus making a beneficial contribution in global food security.

Ziyu Shao : Honours Student

Ziyu Shao

Honours Student

My current study focuses on development of microbial-based biopesticides and biofertilisers to improve the growth and resilience of tomato plants. The outcomes of this project will further show the benefits of using soil bacteria for biocontrol of plant diseases and growth promotion of economically important crops, thus contributing to global food security.

Dr. Cristiana Dal’Molin : Bioengineer Consultant Expert | Project leader | Algae systems biology

Dr. Cristiana Dal’Molin

Bioengineer Consultant Expert | Project leader | Algae systems biology

I assist the team on the development of genome-scale metabolic reconstruction and modelling: a platform technology that is used for detailed analysis of the microalgae metabolic capabilities to produce products of industrial interest.

Find more information about Dr. Dal’Molin’s expertise and projects of interest here: http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/1631

Dr Lilia C. Carvalhais : Collaborator, Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation Institute

Dr Lilia C. Carvalhais

Collaborator, Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation Institute

Dr Lilia C. Carvalhais is a biologist driven by a curiosity to understand the factors that affect beneficial and detrimental interactions between plants and microbes, as well as the diversity of soil and plant-associated microbial communities. Her purpose is to make use of nature’s arsenal to tackle problems that threaten environmental conservation and food security. She has worked with a range of beneficial and pathogenic microbes across model, grain, tree, and horticultural plant species, grown in managed and natural habitats in many different countries, including Brazil, Germany, Australia, USA, and Papua New Guinea. Lilia has expertise in molecular biology, plant nutrition, microbial ecology, biological indicators of soil health, bio-prospection of natural products produced by microbes, plant biotechnology, molecular diagnostics and plant pathology.

Dr. Lara-Simone Pretorius : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Lara-Simone Pretorius

Postdoctoral Fellow

I became part of the Schenklab team in 2010 undertaking a mini research project for my undergraduate degree, and they just couldn't get rid of me. I love Schenk lab and consider all lab members (past, present and future) my crazy, fun-loving, super multicultural, science family.

I am also a member of the Nexgen Plants Team which is dedicated to helping plants defend themselves against viruses and aims to prevent million of dollars of crop losses in the future. I am extremely passionate about this work and the meaningful contribution it is making to the pursuit of science and our never ending quest for knowledge.

Dr. Eladl Eltanahy : Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Eladl Eltanahy

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am a PostDoc Researcher currently investigating the agricultural applications of microalgae as a source of EPA, DHA protein for livestock and aquaculture feed supplement.
I have 13 years experience in Halophilic Dunaliella open pond production, livestock effluent biological treatment and nutritive value of microalgae in aquaculture ecosystem.

Dr. Azam Sheikh : Visiting Academic

Dr. Azam Sheikh

Visiting Academic

I am a Visiting Academic at Schenk lab. Trained algal biotechnologist skilled with experience
of microalgae cultivation in large scale open raceway ponds, circular ponds and closed
photo-bioreactors at locations across the world (India, South Korea, South Africa, and now
Australia). My research interest extends from fundamental biochemistry of microalgal
systems to industry oriented investigations. I am currently working on scale-up studies of
methods developed for enhancement of commercially important microalgal metabolites.
Other aspects of my research involves-cultivation of commercially important microalgae
using automated open raceway pond, role of ROS in microalgal response to stress, and
enhancement, extraction and purification of high value chemicals from microalgae.

Dr. Ali Malekizadeh : Postdoctoral Researcher - Environmental and Chemical Engineer

Dr. Ali Malekizadeh

Postdoctoral Researcher - Environmental and Chemical Engineer

During my PhD research I discovered a new technology for water treatment, oil separation and food processing. The patent has been secured worldwide and I am currently working with our industry partners on a collaborative research & development project to commercialize the new filtration technology.

Dr. Faisal Alsenani : Postdoctoral Fellow, Assistant Professor. Faculty of Pharmacy, Umm Al-Qura University

Dr. Faisal Alsenani

Postdoctoral Fellow, Assistant Professor. Faculty of Pharmacy, Umm Al-Qura University

My research focuses on screening and isolation of natural health products and new antibiotics from microalgae. My research interests include pharmaceutical applications of natural products and secondary metabolites from marine organisms.

In 2016 I participated in the 1st Australia New Zealand Marine Biotechnology Society Symposium.
please refer to: Alsenani, F., et al. (2016). External stimuli to induce nutraceutical biosynthesis in marine microalgae.

Dr. Sharifah Farhana : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Sharifah Farhana

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am interested in developing biological control agents and strategies; and further extending current understanding of the mechanisms involved during plant-microbe and plant defence interactions. For my PhD, I worked to discover natural biological suppression of soil-borne diseases and growth promotion using biological control agents; how plants defend themselves against pathogens at the cellular and whole plant level. I studied biocontrol capabilities of soil bacterial isolates in plants to identifying plant molecular marker genes involved in disease suppression to Phytophthora capsica, by performing plant disease-suppressing assay. Apart from that, I also studied the mechanism of actions of plant-growth promotion bacteria using various biochemical assays and chromatography analysis and how they might be used commercially for various purposes.

Cui Yi (Ian) : PhD Student

Cui Yi (Ian)

PhD Student

My research project is oil production from Phaeodactylum tricornutum. I am interested in the induction of EPA and DHA in this magical creature.

I am also the curator of Queensland microalgae culture collections.

Zoia Arshad Awan : Visiting Research Scholar

Zoia Arshad Awan

Visiting Research Scholar

I am a visiting research scholar undertaking my Ph.D. from The University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. At the moment, I am working with Prof. Peer Schenk and Dr. Anthony Young in “Schenk lab” at School of Agriculture and Food Sciences (SAFS), The University of Queensland, Australia.
I am working on the management of tomato early blight disease by means of sustainable approaches i.e. biocontrol agent and plant nutrients. I came here specifically to identify the potent protein from Bacillus subtilis responsible for the inhibition of early blight pathogen Alternaria solani.

Fong Yi Chung : Honors Student

Fong Yi Chung

Honors Student

I am studying plant-microbe interactions, specifically on how soil bacteria promote plant growth and control Oomycete pathogens. Being equipped with knowledge in Molecular Biotechnology, I am dedicated to resolving issues regarding plant diseases through scientific approaches for the benefits of the society. As an environmental and agricultural enthusiast, I am devoted to the ultimate goal in ensuring food security.

Jeremy Lee : Honours Student

Jeremy Lee

Honours Student

An International student from Indonesia, finishing my bachelor’s degree (Hon) at University of Queensland. Currently focusing on protein extraction of micro-algae using Aqueous Two-Phase Separation method.

Nistha Kashyap : Masters Student

Nistha Kashyap

Masters Student

I am currently pursuing my Masters Research Project where my role involves optimization of algal biomass under seven light emitting diodes that can potentially be applied in food, feed or fuel. I have also been working on the production of algal caviar using different algae strains on a pilot scale that can later be used as food products. Apart from working under Prof. Schenk in School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, I have been previously involved in cancer research back in Assam, India and here, mainly focusing in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (while pursuing my Bachelor of Technology in Bioengineering) and Breast cancer and Melanoma (while interning at QIMR, Herston).

Shruti Thapa : Masters Student

Shruti Thapa

Masters Student

I am an International student from Nepal doing my Masters in Agricultural Science. I am currently studying plant-microbe interactions focusing on soil-borne pathogen Phytophthora and its biocontrol using PGPRs. Apart from working on plant-microbe interactions, I have also worked on identification of putative biomarkers of Type II Diabetes during my undergraduate study in Biotechnology, along with developing invitro plants, plant disease diagnosis and rice quality analysis.

Elvis T. Chua : PhD Student

Elvis T. Chua

PhD Student

My research focus is to optimize the lipid extraction of Nannochloropsis sp. and to determine the valuable compounds left in the biomass.

Hamed Alsufyani : PhD Student

Hamed Alsufyani

PhD Student

My research focuses on developing and optimizing methods for harvesting microalgae and oil extraction using hydrate gel filtration systems. I also assist the hydrate gel filtration team in developing prototypes and new possible applications for Schenklab's patented filtration technology.

Helena Villanueva Riesco : Honours Student

Helena Villanueva Riesco

Honours Student

The principal aim of my research is the optimisation of lipid induction of marine microalgae Tetraselmis M8 for biofuel production. Also, I am analysing a survey with 500+ responses to estimate the potential market of biofuels produced from microalgae.

Admire Chaendera (Adi) : Research Collaborator

Admire Chaendera (Adi)

Research Collaborator

Adi is a consulting process engineer. He is working on a study to establish effective ways of utilising industrial flue gas during algae cultivation. With a passion for responsible stewardship of the environment, his interests are in turning current efforts towards carbon footprint reduction into commercially viable projects in order to ensure sustainability and acceleration of technology take-up.

Lina Gonzalez : Postdoctoral Fellow

Lina Gonzalez

Postdoctoral Fellow

My research project is focused on the optimization of a closed loop for biofuels production from microalgae through anaerobic digestion and nutrient recycling.

Timothy Brett Walker : Volunteer

Timothy Brett Walker


I completed Professional Masters of Biotechnology mid-2018 at the Schenk Lab, with my research focusing on use of the hydrate filtration system to separate oil from algal lysate and from ethanol solvent extraction. I am currently volunteering two days a week at the Schenk Lab, in between work, where I am continuing to test the hydrate's oil separation capabilities under different conditions.

Noelia Neira Peralta : Masters Student

Noelia Neira Peralta

Masters Student

My project currently focuses in the evaluation of transgenic tomato plants expressing different known antimicrobial peptides and their resistance to Gram negative phytophagenic bacteria. Additionally, I assist in the discovery of new peptides with antimicrobial activity.

Valeria Moreno Heredia : Honors Student

Valeria Moreno Heredia

Honors Student

PGPRGs are plant growth promoting rhizobacteria that live in the soil and can promote plant growth or elicit antibacterial effects against pathogenic bacteria. I am exploring the biocontrol potential of some of these rhizobacterial strains to treat plant diseases such as Cacao black pod rot, and Rice blast. These diseases are caused by the pathogens Phytophthora palmivora and Pyricularia Oryzae, respectively. They have worldwide importance and are of especial interest to me as they affect two of the key crops in my country (Ecuador). I am also focusing on Bacterial speck, a disease caused by Pseudomonas syringae in tomato. Previous research carried out in this lab identified promising bacteria able to reduce disease symptoms, so my focus is on optimizing the application of biocontrol control.

Yuet Kiu (Vicky) Choy : Honours Student

Yuet Kiu (Vicky) Choy

Honours Student

My honours project is focused on the screening of efficient bacteria control agents against two strawberry rotting pathogens.

Heejae Jung : Honours Student

Heejae Jung

Honours Student

my research focuses on efficient harvesting techniques and mechanism from various microalgae. I am also interested in aqua-feed using microalgae.

Ying Wang : Masters Student

Ying Wang

Masters Student

My research is focused on developing efficient lipid extraction techniques from the oleaginous microalga Nannochloropsis sp. BR2 in order to secure more sustainable sources of omega-3 fatty acids. I am currently investigating a pre-treatment method to break the algal cell walls; improving oil extraction.