Leah Roberts

Leah Roberts is completing her PhD in Bioinformatics and Pathogenomics, supervised by A/Prof Scott Beatson and Prof Mark Schembri.  Having completed her undergraduate dual degree in Arts/Science at the University of Queensland (2013), she then moved onto an Honours year (2014) in the Beatson Lab to focus on insertion sequences within the Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) ST131 lineage. She also analysed the expression of type 1 fimbriae (T1P) and developed a computational method to determine inversion frequencies from NGS data (namely DISCus).

Leah commenced her PhD in the Beatson Lab group in April 2015 to continue her research into insertion sequences in the ST131 lineage. Her more recent work has diverged into the application of whole genome sequencing to unravel transmission pathways in nosocomial outbreaks to help clinicians understand and respond to outbreaks within hospital settings. More broadly, her interests lie in epidemiology and the study of disease outbreaks. Leah has a broad range of skills/knowledge in both bioinformatics and wet lab methods which gives her great insight across the full spectrum of research design and implementation.



  • ASM student representative (UQ) 2017-2018
  • ABACBS Student Representative (2018)
  • COMBINE Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Student organisation Australia President (2017)
  • COMBINE Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Student organisation Australia Vice President (2016)
  • COMBINE Symposium Committee member (2016)
  • ABACBS Conference Committee member (2016)
  • Software Carpentry Instructor (2016)
  • OzHarvest Volunteer (2014-current)
  • Camp Quality Volunteer (2010-current)



  • MMM2018 Best Poster Presentation (2018)
  • ASM Best Microbiology Talk – SCMB Symposium (2017)
  • SCMB Symposium First Prize student oral (2017)
  • BacPath14 Student Talk Prize (2017)
  • Student Poster Prize – Applied Bioinformatics and Public Health Microbiology (ABPHM) (2017)
  • Applied Bioinformatics and Public Health Microbiology (ABPHM) Travel Award (2017)
  • Becton Dickinson (BD) Student Award (Australian Society for Microbiology) – 2016
  • Tutor Excellence Award (2015)
  • Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) Scholarship (2015)
  • University of Queensland Medalist (2014)
  • SCMB Microbiology Award (2014)
  • SCMB Honours Scholarship (2014)
  • Dean’s Commendation for High Achievement (Faculty of Science UQ) (2010-2013)
  • UQ Summer Research Scholarship (2012)
  • UQ Advantage Grant (Komazawa University, Tokyo) (2011)



  • Bachelor of Arts (Japanese), Bachelor of Science (Microbiology) GPA 6.84/7
  • Honours in Bioinformatics (1st Class, 93% [Rank 2])



  • Insertion Sequences in the Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) ST131 lineage
  • Plasmids and mobile genetic elements in the UPEC ST131 lineage
  • Outbreaks associated with emerging antibiotic resistance (carbapenems/colistin) in nosocomial settings



  • Genomic investigation of an outbreak of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacter cloacae: long-read sequencing reveals the context of blaIMP4 on a widely distributed IncHI2 plasmid. Leah W. Roberts, Patrick N. A. Harris, Nouri L. Ben Zakour, Brian M. Forde, Elizabeth Catchpoole, Mitchell Stanton-Cook, Minh-Duy Phan, Hanna Sidjabat, Haakon Bergh, Claire Heney, Jayde A. Gawthorne, Jeffrey Lipman, Anthony Allworth, Kok-Gan Chan, Teik Min Chong, Wai-Fong Yin, Mark A. Schembri, David L. Paterson, Scott Beatson. BioRxiv 2017 

  • Dominance of ST131 Escherichia coli carrying blaCTX-M in patients with bloodstream infections caused by cephalosporin-resistant strains in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore: whole genome analysis of isolates from a randomised trial. Harris, Patrick; Ben Zakour, Nouri; Roberts, Leah; Wailan, Alexander; Zowawi, Hosam; Tambyah, Paul; Lye, David; Jureen, Roland; Lee, Tau; Mo, Yin; IZHARUDDIN, Ezlyn; Looke, David; Runnegar, Naomi; Rogers, Benjamin; Bhally, Hasan; Crowe, Amy; Schembri, Mark; Beatson, Scott; Paterson, David L. (2017) Accepted in JAC

  • Leah W. Roberts. (2017). From isolate to answer: how whole genome sequencing is helping us rapidly characterise nosocomial bacterial outbreaks. Microbiology Australia
  • Sequential acquisition of virulence and fluoroquinolones resistance has shaped the evolution of Escherichia coli ST131 Ben Zakour NL, Alsheikh-Hussain A, Ashcroft M, Nguyen N, Roberts LW, Stanton- Cook M, Schembri MA, Beatson SA doi:10.1128/mBio.00347-16
  • Comprehensive analysis of type 1 fimbriae regulation in fimB-null strains from the multidrug resistant Escherichia coli ST131 clone Sarkar S, Roberts LW, Phan MD, Tan L, Lo AW, Peter KM, Paterson D, Upton M, Ulett GC, Beatson SA, Totsika M, Schembri MA In review, Journal of Molecular Microbiology
  • Third-generation cephalosporin resistance conferred by a chromosomally encoded blaCMY-23 gene in the E. coli ST131 reference strain EC958 Phan MD, Peters KM, Sarkar S, Forde B, Lo AW, Stanton-Cook M, Roberts LW, Upton M, Beatson SA, Schembri J Antimicrob Chemother. 2015 Jul;70(7):1969-72. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkv066