Invited and keynote speakers

Dr Elisha M. Wood-Charlson

Title: Creating findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) online, biological systems data platforms that support sharing and attribution beyond publications.

Biography: Elisha M Wood-Charlson is part of the scientific community engagement teams for the US Department of Energy’s Systems Biology Knowledgebase (KBase, and the National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC, She has a PhD and 10+ years of experience as a microbial ecologist focused on host-microbe-virus interactions in the marine environment, including a postdoctoral fellowship at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). Since leaving the research bench, her career has focused on making data science around biological systems, microbiome data in particular, more efficient by facilitating effective collaborations, building trust in online communities, and developing shared ownership of the scientific process.

A/Professor Kim-Anh Lê Cao

Title: Omics data integration with multivariate analysis

Biography: Kim-Anh Lê Cao develops novel methods, software and tools to interpret big biological data and answer research questions efficiently. She is committed to statistical education to instill best analytical practice and has taught numerous statistical workshops for biologists and leads collaborative projects in medicine, fundamental biology or microbiology disciplines.

Kim-Anh has a mathematical engineering background and graduated with a PhD in Statistics from the Université de Toulouse, France. She then moved to Australia first as a biostatistician consultant at QFAB Bioinformatics, then as a research group leader at the biomedical University of Queensland Diamantina Institute. She currently is Associate Professor in Statistical Genomics at the University of Melbourne. In 2019, Kim-Anh received the Australian Academy of Science’s Moran Medal for her contributions to Applied Statistics in multidisciplinary collaborations. She has been part of leadership program for women in STEMM, including the international Homeward Bound which culminated in a trip to Antarctica, and Superstars of STEM from Science Technology Australia. More information about Kim-Anh’s research group:

Professor Lars K. Nielsen

Title: Design to Learn, Learn to Design: the dual challenge of automated strain engineering.

Biography: Lars Nielsen is Professor and Chair of Biological Engineering at The University of Queensland, Senior Group Leader at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology (AIBN), and Scientific Director at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, DTU, Denmark. He is Director of the Queensland Bioplatforms Australia Node, which provides systems and synthetic biology support to design and build cell factories for the production of fuels, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

His core research interest is modelling of cellular metabolism and his team has made many contributions to the formulation and use of genome scale models. In 2015, he received a Novo Nordisk Foundation Laureate Research Grant to develop large scale, mathematical models to explore and explain the molecular basis for homeostasis – the self-regulating processes evolved to maintain metabolic equilibrium. Studying homeostasis is relevant for the understanding and treatment of complex diseases, particular with the emergence of personalized medicine. It is equally important when we seek to repurpose the cellular machinery for the production of desired chemicals, materials and pharmaceuticals.

Professor Elaine Holmes

Title: TBC

Biography: Professor Elaine Holmes is a distinguished computational biologist and a Clarivate Highly Cited Scholar. She was awarded the prestigious Australian Laureate Fellowship from the Australia Research Council (ARC) in 2020.

Elaine’s main research area focuses on applying metabolic profiling and computational modelling of biofluids and tissues to understand pathological and physiological processes. She has applied the technology in several clinical and biomedical areas including Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Infection, Gastrointestinal Disease, Early life environment and neurodegeneration. She co-developed the concept of the metabolome-wide association study (MWAS) and is driving new methods for the integration of metabonomic data with proteomic and transcriptomic data to gain a holistic overview of disease process. Her current work focuses on understanding the role of the gut microbiome in health and disease.


Professor Melissa Fitzgerald

Title: Combining metabolomics, genetics and sensory profiling to identify compounds that affect the quality of rice.

Biography: Melissa Fitzgerald obtained her PhD in 1998. She has changed her career every 7 years, and each career step includes rice research.  She led research in rice quality at NSW Agriculture, then at the International Rice Research Institute at IRRI. Now at UQ, rice research is a key part of her work, and she has published widely on rice quality. She came to UQ in 2012, and established a metabolomics facility. She is also the Deputy Associate Dean for Research Partnerships in the Faculty of Science, and in this position, she creates opportunities for academics to engage with industry.

Dr Nick Hudson

Title: A step towards mitochondrial system biology and its application in animal science.

Biography: Nick Hudson was awarded his PhD through the Zoology department of the University of Queensland, after travelling from the UK on a Britain-Australia Society funded Northcote Scholarship. Before taking his current position in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences he worked for the CSIRO in a multi-disciplinary Systems Biology group. Through this group he helped develop methods using various RNA and DNA based biotechnologies to predict phenotypes of commercial importance in cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens. He continues to be interested in fostering efficient, environmentally friendly production enterprises using modern ‘omics technologies. Nick is also interested in the development, physiology, metabolism and conservation of native Australian species.