Melinda Ashcroft

Melinda Ashcroft is a current PhD candidate in Bioinformatics and Microbial Genomics. She completed her undergraduate degree in Applied Science (Biotechnology) more than 10 years ago at the Queensland University of Technology. She then spent 7 years working in a customer-focused role before returning to postgraduate study and obtaining her Master of Biotechnology (High Distinction) from the University of Queensland in 2013. Mid-way through her masters, Melinda realised that it was possible to combine her two passions, computers and biology. This progressed into a Masters project on Melanoma genomics before Melinda moved into the Beatson Lab to work on a summer project on data manipulation of the Escherichia coli genome. In 2014 Melinda decided to continue working in Bioinformatics and joined the Beatson Lab group to undertake her PhD. Here her work focuses on the accessory genome in Extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC), with major projects investigating antimicrobial resistant lineages and the evolution and function of methylation using Pacific Biosciences SMRT sequencing technology.

In her spare time, Melinda is involved in organising and participating in a number of social networking and mentoring opportunities for students in molecular biosciences and computational biology. Additionally, Melinda is a tutor for a range of subjects relating to biotechnology, bioinformatics, microbiology and genetics and her interests include science communication and blogging.

 

Academia

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

 

Accolades

  • Becton Dickinson Student Travel Award – Australian Society of Microbiology Queensland Winner – 2017
  • Poster Presentation, Third prize – 2015. SCMB 11th Annual Research Students Symposium.
  • Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) Scholarship – 2014
  • Dean’s Commendation for Academic Excellence (UQ) – 2013
  • UQ Summer Research Scholarship – 2013
  • UQ Summer Research Scholarship – 2012

 

Community Outreach

  • Australian Society of Microbiology Communication Ambassador 2017
  • Vice President, UQ Molecular Biotechnology Students Club (Facebook) (2013-2017)
  • Chair (2015) and Deputy Chair (2016), School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences Research Students Advisory Group
  • SCMB Research Students Symposium Committee member (2015 and 2016)
  • Brisbane representative, COMBINE Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Student organisation Australia (2016)

 

Projects

  • Genomic characterisation of the extraintestinal pathogenic lineage E. coli ST101
  • Comparative methylome analysis in the extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli ST101 clone
  • Analysis of the intersection of methylome and transcriptome in E. coli ST131 strain EC958
  • Analysing the distribution of methyltransferase target sites in the UPEC ST131 strain EC95

 

Publications

  1. 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
  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