Applying marine genomics to transform ocean conservation
A partnership between
The Minderoo OceanOmics Centre at UWA combines a joint Ocean Genomes Laboratory, an OceanOmics Laboratory, and a Computational Biology Program.
Using eDNA, we can more accurately monitor life in the global ocean. With an initial focus on the continental Australian Commonwealth marine estate, the Pangaea Ocean Explorer has already embarked on nine voyages, enabling sample collection and onboard genomic analyses for population-scale monitoring of the health of Australia’s ocean wildlife.
CONSERVATION AND PROTECTION
The OceanOmics program supports the goal of conserving 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030 by fostering novel methods for monitoring and combating threats to marine wildlife and ecosystems; quantifying the health status of current marine protected areas (MPAs); and assisting governments and management agencies in identifying new biodiversity hotspots and ecosystems in need of protection.
To characterise marine biodiversity based on eDNA, a library of references is needed. Snippets of DNA found in seawater can then be checked against this library to identify all the species present in the samples. Currently fewer than two per cent of the 20,000 known species of marine fish have had their genome sequenced. In collaboration with our global partners, the Ocean Genomes Laboratory is generating a publically accessible reference genomic resources for thousands of marine species, empowering conservation science.
Oceanomic CENTRE TEAM MEMBERS
HEAD OF RESEARCH
Dr Julie Robidart has been working to scale up quantitative omics measurements over the past 15 years, most recently developing deployable genetic sensors and samplers as Head of Ocean Technology and Engineering at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.
As Head of Research, Julie creates strategic plans, develops the roadmap and leads recruitment for the OceanOmics program.
HEAD OF OPERATIONS
Dr Priscila Goncalves is a molecular ecologist with over 10 years of experience applying omics tools to characterise marine community structures and to understand the interplay between organisms and their environment. Priscila leads the infrastructural and operational development of the OceanOmics program, including its onshore and offshore resources, capabilities & activities, while contributing to technical advancements in the marine eDNA space.
Dr Rich Edwards is a geneticist, bioinformatician and evolutionary genomicist. He has worked with multiple research groups and genomics consortia on genome sequencing and assembly projects, using short reads (Illumina), long reads (PacBio & Nanopore), linked reads (10x Chromium) and Hi-C scaffolding.
Rich joins the Oceans Institute as Laboratory Lead. His focus will be on generating a comprehensive reference genome library of Australian marine vertebrates.
Strategic Portfolio Manager
Yvette Mordini is a Strategic Portfolio Manager at the Minderoo Foundation, with a wide range of responsibilities from COVID response to expedition planning. As a founding member of the OceanOmics team, she leads a variety of activities and is involved in setting and tracking objectives, priorities and budgets to meet scientific goals.
Dr Rachel Jamieson is a bilingual, polar and deep-sea biologist with a background in forensic science and molecular microbiology. She has over 15 years experience in university and clinical research, government, global commercial research and development, Antarctic field-work and sea-going expeditions.
Rachel joins the Oceans Institute as the as the Laboratory Manager of the OceanOmics Centre, supporting the development of impactful and innovative research for the advancement of the program.
Emma de Jong
Dr Emma de Jong is a postdoctoral researcher with expertise in bioinformatics, data science and systems biology. Joining the Oceans Institute as a Research Fellow within the OceanOmics Centre, her research focuses on generating high-quality reference genomes for marine vertebrates and associated bioinformatic pipelines.
Dr Lara Parata is a marine scientist turned molecular ecologist. Her current research focuses on using high-throughput sequencing to better understand how stressors such as climate change impact the genomes of marine vertebrates.
As part of this research she will also be contributing to the generation of a reference genome library to support ocean-wide biodiversity monitoring and conservation biology.
MARINE VERTEBRATES RESEARCH OFFICER
Dr Shannon Corrigan is an empirical biologist that uses modern genomics approaches to pursue broad research interests that include the evolutionary biology, ecology, and conservation of marine vertebrates, particularly chondrichthyans (cartilaginous fishes: sharks, rays, chimaeras).
Dr Madalyn Cooper is a molecular biologist with a PhD in marine science. Her research comprises foundational work on the application of eDNA for studying distributions of threatened elasmobranchs.
Her interests are in the development and application of novel molecular tools to aid marine conservation and management.
BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH OFFICER
Dr Eric Raes is a marine ecologist whose work integrates genomic workflows with large scale oceanographic and isotope data to trace changes in energy flow across the marine food web. His current interests are focused on how eDNA and genomics observations can become standard tools for marine protected area and sustainable fisheries management.
Marcelle Ayad has a background in trophic and behavioural ecology focusing on landscape-scale effects of predator-prey interactions.
Her current interests are in developing and optimising field and laboratory techniques of environmental DNA to enhance marine monitoring and conservation.
BIOINFORMATICS RESEARCH OFFICER
Dr Sebastian Rauschert is a computational biologist and data scientist, with 8 years of extensive experience and expertise in analysing data across the omics spectrum, spanning metabolomic, epigenetic and genomic data.
His key expertise is in processing and analysing omics data sets and developing predictive models and software to extract meaningful insights from large and complex data sets.
AI RESEARCH OFFICER
Dr Philipp Bayer is a computational biologist focusing on machine-learning applied to answering complex genomics questions.
His current research focuses on novel analysis methods in eDNA research and scaling bioinformatics analyses within OceanOmics.
Adam Bennett is a computer scientist and bioinformatician. He is working on the development of analytical software, tools and pipelines to analyse eDNA data for better measuring and understanding life in our ocean.
Dr Steve Burnell leads Minderoo Foundation’s broader OceanOmics program. He has a PhD in marine ecology and extensive direct experience in long-term marine conservation programs and marine protected areas. Steve has a particular passion for applying new technologies and financial models toward addressing the most pressing biodiversity and climate challenges facing our oceans.
Explore with us
Looking to join our team? Over the coming years, there will be opportunities and scholarships for PhD students as well as positions for professional and academic staff.
The OceanOmics Centre is multidisciplinary and welcomes new research collaborations. Join the Oceans Institute community to stay up to date with opportunities like this and more.