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.
I founded the Flinders Biofilm Research & Innovation Consortium in 2018. The Consortium develops innovative solutions and provide better control of problematic biofilms relevant to many industries such as desalination & membranes, medical implants, beverage & food, water & wastewater, renewable energy, biosecurity, maritime and mining. I am also a Research Leader of the Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology, a collaborative group of chemists, biologists, physicists and engineers working together to solve problems utilising the unique opportunities offered by working on the nanometre scale.
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 Associate Professor in 2016.
Marine National Facility (MNF) - sea time on RV Investigator 2019, 2020 - Microplastic in the food chain: impact on microbial and planktonic organisms
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 (2014)
AINSE Research Award ALNGRA14027 Leterme & Popelka-Filcoff (2013)
BP funded GAB Science Plan - Project Proposal 2.1. Van Ruth et al. (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)
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
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