Associate Professor Sophie Leterme

Associate Professor

College of Science and Engineering

place Biological Sciences (230)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

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.

Qualifications
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education from Flinders University (conferred in 2017).
  • PhD in Marine Biology at the University of Plymouth, UK - Impact of climate and physical processes on phytoplankton dynamics
  • Master in Biological Oceanography at l'Universite Pierre & Marie Curie - Paris VI, France - Spatial and temporal variability of particles between 1 and 1200µm in the North Atlantic Ocean (Cruises POMME)
  • Honours in Marine Biology (First Class) at l'Universite des Sciences & Technologies de Lille I , France - Microscale variability of Phytoplankton biomass in a high-hydrodynamic coastal ecosystem
  • BSc in Biology at l'Universite des Sciences & Technologies de Lille I, France - Long distance dispersal of the brown algae Turbinaria ornata (Fucale) invading Coral reefs of French Polynesia
Honours, awards and grants

Honours/Awards

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)

  • ARC LEIF, Project LE130100115 Prideaux et al. (2012)
  • National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia (NCEDA), Project 08313 Leterme et al., Assessing the biofouling role of microbes in the desalination system; from the intake pipe to the reverse osmosis membranes.(2011-2015)
  • ARC Discovery, Project DP110101679 Leterme et al., Primary Producers; morphological flexibility under environmental constraints. (2010-2013)
  • NCEDA, Project 07631 Leterme et al., Nanostructure of Diatoms: A predictive model for species sustainability.(2010-2012)
  • IMOS - Education Investment Funds (EIF) 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. (2010-2013)
  • Fisheries Research & Development Corporation (FRDC) Project 2009/046 Middleton et al., Carrying capacity of Spencer Gulf: Hydrodynamic and Biogeochemical measurement modelling and performance monitoring. (2009-2012)
Research expertise
Biofouling
Desalination
Ecology
Microbiology
Oceanography
Research interests

My current research focuses on:

- the dynamic of plankton communities in various ecosystems such as coastal waters, continental shelf, upwelling zones and estuaries (Coorong). This work includes different aspects of the effect of environmental changes on plankton biology and ecology, such as the investigation of silicification of diatoms under different growth conditions or the impact of microplastics on the microbial and planktonic food web.

- Biofouling issues within desalination systems and on marine industrial structures, focusing on bacteria, picoplankton and phytoplankton. This works includes experimental work on the development of biofilms on various surfaces and the use of molecular techniques to identify biofouling communities.

Teaching interests

Supervision of Honours, Master and postgraduate research students

Topic coordinator
BIOL2701 Experimental Design and Statistics for Biology
BIOL8741 Experimental Design and Statistics for Biology GE
BIOL8700 Biology Research Project GE
BIOL3700 NS Marine Biology Research Project
BIOL3700 Biology Research Project
Topic lecturer
BIOL8741 Experimental Design and Statistics for Biology GE
BIOL8700 Biology Research Project GE
BIOL3782 Advanced Microbiology
EASC1102 Marine Sciences
BIOL3700 Research Projects in Biology
CTEC1101 Clean Technology 1
BIOL2701 Experimental Design and Statistics for Biology
BIOL3101 Marine Ecological Processes
Supervisory interests
Biological oceanography
Desalination, effects on marine environments
Diatoms
Ecosystem dynamics
Environmental impact assessment
Environmental microbiology
Marine microbiology
Membranes and biofilms
Physical oceanography
Phytoplankton
Wetland ecology
Zooplankton
Higher degree by research supervision
Current
Principal supervisor: Zooplankton, wetlands, climate change (1), Biofouling, desalination, metagenomics (1), Phytoplankton, diatoms, wetlands, climate change (1)
Associate supervisor: Wetlands, biostatistics (1), Wetlands (1), Algae, diatoms, metagenomics (1), Algae, zooplankton (1), Harmful algae, dinoflagellates (1), Algae, diatoms, biofuel (1)
Completion
Associate supervisor: cyanobacteria, oceanography (1), Algae, Aquaculture (1)
Higher degree by research student achievements
Jan-Georg Jendyk

National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia PhD Scholarship - JUN 2012

Deevesh Hemraj

National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia PhD Scholarship -

Publications
Expert for media contact
Biology
Climate
Marine science
Microbiology
Oceanography
Salinity
Desalination:
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Biology
  • Climate
  • Marine science
  • Microbiology
  • Oceanography
  • Salinity
Interests
  • Desalination: