Prior to her PhD, Melinda obtained a Master of Biotechnology from The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2013. Mid-way through her Masters, Melinda realised that it was possible to combine her two passions, computers and biology. In 2014 Melinda decided to continue working in computational biology and joined the Beatson laboratory to undertake her PhD, supervised by A/Prof Scott Beatson and Dr Brian Forde. Here, her work focused on the accessory genome in extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC), with projects including antimicrobial resistance lineages, DNA methylation and the intersection of the methylome and transcriptome. More broadly, her research interests lie in genomic epidemiology and how mobile genetic elements shape the evolution of bacterial lineages.

Melinda was awarded her PhD in February 2019 and is now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Computational Microbiologist in the Beatson laboratory. Melinda has a broad range of skills and knowledge in microbial genomics and sequencing technologies. She is particularly interested in teaching, with tutoring experience in bioinformatics, microbiology and genetics. Melinda was also a lecturer in 2019, teaching into the Genomics and Bioinformatics undergraduate course BIOL3004. As an Australian Society of Microbiology communications ambassador from 2017-2019, Melinda’s interests also include science communication.

Publications

  1. Chhabra Y, Yong HXL, Fane ME, Soogrim A, Lim W, Mahiuddin DN, Kim RSQ, Ashcroft M, Beatson SA, Ainger SA, Smit DJ, Jagirdar K, Walker GJ, Sturm RA and Smith AG. Genetic variation in IRF4 expression modulates growth characteristics, tyrosinase expression and interferon-gamma response in melanocytic cells. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2017 Jul 29;31(1): 51-63.
  2. Ben Zakour NL, Alsheikh-Hussain AS*, Ashcroft MM*, Khanh Nhu NT*, Roberts LW, Stanton-Cook M, Schembri MA and Beatson SA. Sequential Acquisition of Virulence and Fluoroquinolone Resistance Has Shaped the Evolution of Escherichia coli ST131. MBio. 2016;7(2). pii: e00347-16. http://mbio.asm.org/content/7/2/e00347-16.full. *These authors contributed equally
  3. Forde BM, Phan MD, Gawthorne JA, Ashcroft MM, Stanton-Cook M, Sarkar S, Peters KM, Chan KG, Chong TM, Yin WF, Upton M, Schembri MA and Beatson SA. Lineage-Specific Methyltransferases Define the Methylome of the Globally Disseminated Escherichia coli ST131 Clone. MBio. 2015;6(6):e01602-15. http://mbio.asm.org/content/6/6/e01602-15.full

Academia

  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Biotechnology/Biochemistry), Queensland University of Technology
  • Master of Biotechnology (GPA 6.75/7), University of Queensland
  • PhD in Microbial Genomics

Projects

  • Comparative genomics and genomic characterisation of antimicrobial resistance in E. coli ST101
  • Defining strain and lineage-level methylome heterogeneity in E. coli ST101
  • Defining the association between DNA regulatory proteins and DNA methylation in the E. coli ST131.
  • Investigating the distribution of DNA methyltransferase motifs and defining the methylome of E. coli ST131

Accolades

  • Tutor Excellence Award (2017 & 2018)
  • BacPath14 Student Poster Prize (2017)
  • Becton Dickinson Student Travel Award – Australian Society of Microbiology meeting (2017)
  • SCMB Symposium Poster presentation, Third Prize
  • Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship (2014).
  • Dean’s commendation for Academic Excellence – Master of Biotechnology (2013).
  • The University of Queensland Future Leader (Class of 2013).
  • SCMB Summer research scholarship (2013
  • AIBN Summer research scholarship (2012)

Community Outreach

  • Australian Society of Microbiology – Communications Ambassador (2017-2019)
  • COMBINE Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Student Organisation – Media and Communications Ambassador (2018)
  • Vice President of the UQ Molecular Biotechnology Students Club (Facebook) (2014-2017)
  • Chair (2015) and Deputy chair (2016) of the SCMB Research Students Advisory group and organiser of SCMB student symposium (2015-2016)