Rob received his BSc (Hons) from De Montfort University, Leicester, England, and then completed a PhD at the Nitrogen Fixation Laboratory at the University of Sussex, England exploring the regulation of nitrogen fixation in Klebsiella pneumoniae. He moved to the US as a PostDoc, first at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia studying enterotoxigenic E. coli, and then at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign studying the genomics and pathogenesis of Salmonella, work that he continued as an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis, TN. Working with Argonne National Labs and the Fellowship for the Interpretation of Genomes (FIG) he developed the RAST and MG-RAST systems for bacterial genome and metagenome annotation.
In 2006, Rob took a position in the Departments of Computer Science and Biology at San Diego State University, and his work there led to breakthroughs in our understanding of how viruses interact with their hosts, and how viruses from around the world carry important genetic information. Rob has continued to push current sequencing and bioinformatics technologies, in 2013 took a next-generation sequencing machine to the remote Southern Line Islands to explore metagenomics of coral reefs in real-time. In 2014 Rob's team identified a virus that is present in the intestines of approximately half the people in the world, and in 2019 Rob assembled a consortium of 115 colleagues from every continent to demonstrate the global spread of the virus.
In addition to science and teaching Rob is also an advanced scientific SCUBA diver having led teams to study Coral Reefs all over the world. In his spare time, he is a cyclist, black-diamond skiier and an avid international yachtsman, navigating in long-distance offshore races, including navigating the 2019 TransPac race from Los Angeles to Honolulu finishing 4th out of 89 boats.
Rob has a B. Sc. (1st Class Hons) in Science and the Environment, De Montfort University, Leicester, England and a Ph.D. in Microbial Genetics. University of Sussex, Brighton, England. Rob has published over 100 scientific papers, and has taught both microbiology and computer science for over 20 years. He has earned over $10m in extramural funding to support his research.
Rob was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology and nominated a Kavli Frontiers Fellow by the National Academy of Sciences.
Rob has received awards for his teaching from both the University of Tenessee and was nominated as most influential mentor four times while at San Diego State University. He was also awarded as SDSU's Outstanding International Scholar for his collaborations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Before migrating to Australia, Rob was awarded the Rudi Lemberg Travelling Fellowship from the Australian Academy of Sciences to teach and meet with research colleagues, leading to his accepting the position at Flinders University.
Rob is the Director of Bioinformatics and Human Microbiology for the Flinders Accelerator for Microbiome Exploration (FAME). He coordinates the computational analysis of DNA sequences associated with the microbiome. Although Rob's research focus is on the human microbiome, he has also published work on many different environments.
My primary teaching area is bioinformatics - using computers to analyse microbiological data. Because this spans both computer science and biology, I have taught computer science, microbiology, virology, database design and implementation, and programming.
If you would like to do some research with me in one of these areas, then reach out. If you want to talk about other research opportunities - even if they are not with me - drop me a line and I'm happy to chat with you.
Flinders Accelerator for Microbiome Exploration (FAME): is a University-wide initiative to promote and enhance microbiome and metagenome studies across Flinders University, Adelaide, and South Australia. It is co-directed by Rob, the FAME Director of Bioinformatics and Human-Microbe Interactions, and co-directed by Prof. Elizabeth Dinsdale, the FAME Director of Environmental Microbiomes. We are looking forward to working with all groups that would like to understand how the microbiome is affecting their area of research. FAME is integral to this proposal and will provide scientific support for experimental design, sample collection, data generation (DNA sequencing), bioinformatics, and statistical analysis.
Rob writes a lot of software, especially (but not only) for bioinformatics, and it is all available on his GitHub account.
Rob has given hundreds of scientific talks to audiences ranging from scientific societies to local clubs and groups. He will tailor a talk to your audience, is always open to sharing his delight of science with your group. Feel free to reach out to Rob!
Rob is a member of the International Society for Computational Biology, Australian Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Society of Australia, American Society for Microbiology, and Australian Society for Microbiology
Rob is a highly cited researcher who studies both microbiology - including bacteria and viruses - and computer science. If you would like to chat about any of these, please reach out!
I am always looking for students to join my research group, regardless of background or experience, and always happy to chat about science.
We work with computer scientists, microbiologists, mathematicians, statisticians, artisits, and anyone interested in microbiology and phages.
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