Primary research interest


About me

Following my doctorate in Adelaide in 1979, I was an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow in Germany from 1980-82, then a Research Scientist in the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science in Adelaide until 1994 when I joined the University of Queensland as resident protozoologist. I completed a GCEd in tertiary teaching and won an Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2000, an Australian Award for University Teaching in Biological Sciences, Health and Related Studies and was a joint winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for University Teacher of the Year in 2002. I was awarded a DSc by the University of Queensland in 2005 for my studies on protozoan diseases of humans and animals, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Society for Parasitology in 2006I was promoted to Professor in 2006 and contributed to curriculum review, research facilitation and corporate service until 2019 when I retired aged 67. As Emeritus Professor, I am currently completing several long-term research projects on protozoan parasites of Australian wildlife, and am documenting my experiences in parasitology as the basis for an e-book and web-site sponsored by the ASP.

Research focus and collaborations

My area of specialisation is clinical protozoology and I practice as a diagnostician; i.e. I identify protozoan parasites in vertebrate hosts. My goal is to characterize those species occurring in Australia. My studies are deliberately parochial as our continent is simply the last great unexplored bastion for micro-fauna. Little is known about protozoa in the gut, blood and tissues of our unique native animals.

I seek to define the morphology, biology, phylogeny and pathogenicity of protozoan species endemic in Australian hosts, including sporozoa, ciliates, flagellates and amoebae in mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. My research involves studying parasite form and function as well as host-parasite interactions resulting in disease. I apply conventional and contemporary technologies to study organismal, cellular and molecular biology, including light and electron microscopy, biochemical and immunological assays, protein profiling and nucleotide analyses.

I have specialized in five major areas of research: cyst-forming sporozoa in humans and domestic animals (esp. abortifacients); enteric coccidia in humans and wildlife (diarrhoeal diseases); protozoa affecting aquaculture (those causing lesions); endosymbiotic protozoa in herbivores (vital to ‘rumen’ ecosystems); and protozoal biodiversity (species richness).

Teaching interests

I taught preclinical microbiology and applied parasitology to undergraduate science, veterinary science, nursing and medical students, as well as problem-based learning and research supervision to postgraduate students. More recently, I helped develop a foundational science course (Theory and Practice in Science) to embed mathematical principles and models in science programmes. I also ran science communication workshops involving oral, poster, media and audiovisual presentation techniques.

Achievements and awards

  • Fellow, Australian Society for Parasitology Inc.
  • Life Member, Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows
  • Member, Water Quality & Vet Lab Testing, National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA)
  • Prime Minister’s Award for University Teacher of the Year
  • Australian Award for University Teaching (Biological Sciences, Health and Related Stdies)
  • Honorary Research Fellow, Queensland Museum
  • Honorary Consultant, International Reference Centre for Avian Haematozoa
  • Chief Examiner, 14th International Biology Olympiad

Selected publications