I joined Flinders University in 2006 as a post-doctoral researcher to work on the ecology of the Coorong wetlands, focusing on the impact of environmental change on microbial and plankton communities. I took on a Lecturer position at Flinders University in 2008 and furthered my research on the adaptation of plankton to salinity fluctuations that was funded by the ARC through a Discovery Project.
I was the deputy node leader of SA-IMOS (South Australian Node of IMOS (Integrated Marine Observing System)) for 2009-2015, leading the biological program of SA-IMOS. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer (2013) and developped my research on the impact of microbial communities in the biofouling of desalination plants which was funded by the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination - Australia (NCEDA).
I became an Associate Professor at Flinders University in 2016.
My research focuses on aquatic microbes through 2 principal research streams: (1) Effects of environmental change (i.e. drought, acidification, eutrophication) on plankton biology and ecology, with a special focus on diatoms and copepods and (2) Studies of biofilm formation in aquatic systems, including water treatment and desalination plants.
Visiting Professor (Universite de Toulon & USTL, France) 2018
ACSR-YSEP Fellowship (IOCAS Qingdao, China) 2014, 2015
Visiting Research Fellowship (Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology) 2007
FR3CE Visiting Scholar Fellowship (Flinders University) 2006-2007
Selected Recent Major Grants
Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE) Research Award ALNGRA15036 Leterme, Impact of acidification on the uptake of trace metals by diatoms. (2014)
AINSE Research Award ALNGRA14027 Leterme & Popelka-Filcoff, Impact of drought conditions on the uptake of trace metals by diatoms. (2013)
BP funded GAB Science Plan - Project Proposal 2.1. Van Ruth et al., Spatial and temporal variability in the shelf microbial and plankton communities in the Great Australian Bight. (2013-2017)
Integrated Marine Observing System - Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (IMOS – CRIS) Middleton et al., Australian National Mooring Network (ANMN)–SAIMOS Mooring sub-facility, Shelf and slope moorings, field surveys and associated analyses to produce data streams. (2013)
My current research focuses on the dynamic of plankton communities in various ecosystems such as coastal waters, continental shelf, upwelling zones and estuaries (Coorong).
My work includes different aspects of the effect of environmental changes on plankton biology and ecology, with a special focus on diatoms and copepods.
I also work on the environmental impacts of desalination plants as well as on biofouling issues within desalination systems, focusing on bacteria, picoplankton and phytoplankton.
Supervision of Honours, Master and postgraduate research students
National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia PhD Scholarship - JUN 2012
National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia PhD Scholarship -
Scientific Reports – Nature