Sabrina Beker

I’m a PhD candidate at the School of Science at RMIT University. I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Bioprocess and Biotechnology Engineering at the State University of Rio Grande do Sul/Brazil (UERGS) in 2011 and earned my Master's degree in Environmental Microbiology from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul/Brazil (UFRGS) in 2014.

I have academic and professional experience in research with foci on the microbial contamination of fuels (diesel and biodiesel) during storage and also on control of its biodeterioration using biocides. Currently, I am a full-time PhD student (CNPq sponsorship) in Biosciences with my thesis focussing on the nanobioremediation of emerging pollutants under the supervision of Prof. Andy Ball & Prof. Ivan Cole. More broadly, my interests lie in the field of nanomaterials for environmental applications.

In my spare time I enjoy cycling, hiking and doing outdoor activities. I also love practicing yoga at the end of a long day and spending time with my friends.


  • Hydrothermal synthesis of nanoparticles
  • Photoluminescence (PL)
  • Microbiological aseptic and sterile techniques
  • Optical microscopy
  • Bacterial staining and plating methods (streak, spread, pour, replica)
  • MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration) assays
  • Molecular biology

PhD Project

Topic: Green synthesis of carbon quantum dots from natural resources as potential candidates for nanobioremediation of emerging pollutants

A wide range of new & emerging pollutants (EPs) have been released into water bodies, mainly by human activities. Many of these EPs have been shown to be deleterious to the environment with some threatening the aquatic ecosystem. Significant research & development is underway to develop new remediation technologies aimed at alleviating the environmental issues associated with EPs; however, the complete removal and efficient treatment of aquatic contaminants remains a huge challenge for water resource management. Advanced nanotechnology provides a promising alternative for increasing water treatment efficiency, especially carbon quantum dots (CQDs). CQDs, which are fluorescent nanostructures in the size range of 2–10 nm, have attracted significant attention for their excellent physicochemical properties and potential applications in several fields of science and technology - particularly with respect to the environment. Recently, the conversion of natural resources into carbon-based quantum dots has attracted major attention due to the environmental sustainability of the associated simple, economical and green synthesis. Therefore, this research aims to synthesise CQDs from green material and test them for their degradation of EPs in water. In particular, their ability to degrade dyes and per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) will be tested using the nanobioremediation technique developed in this study. In order to conduct a proper evaluation of the proposed nanobioremediation, an assessment of the impact of the CQDs on freshwater microbial community structure and the ecotoxicity of the CQDs will be conducted to minimise any adverse environmental impacts.

Figure 1: Green synthesis of fluorescent carbon dots (CDs) made of Prickly Pear extract

Figure 1: Green synthesis of fluorescent carbon dots (CDs) made of Prickly Pear extract

Figure 2: Studies on dye degradation using CDs made of Prickly Pear extract

Figure 2: Studies on dye degradation using CDs made of Prickly Pear extract

Prior Work

  • 2018 - Present
    Lab demonstrator at RMIT University (casual)
    I currently work as a laboratory demonstrator for undergraduate and postgraduate students on the following topics: Environmental Biotechnology, Research Methods and Introduction to Microbiology for Food & Nutrition. I also mark and correct student assignments
  • 2014 - 2016
    Research Project: Chemical and microbial storage stability studies of commercial Brazilian biodiesels
    Department of Microbiology, UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
    Supervisors: Dr. Eduardo Cavalcanti (National Institute of Technology, Rio de Janeiro) and Prof. Dr. Fatima Menezes Bento (UFRGS, Porto Alegre)
  • 2012 - 2014
    Master’s Thesis: Evaluation of the antimicrobial potential of TBHQ (tert-butyl-hydroquinone) and of bio-oil for use in soybean biodiesel (B100) and diesel oil B (B10)
    Department of Microbiology, UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
    Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Fatima Menezes Bento, Prof. Dr. Renato Cataluña, Prof. Dr. Clarisse Piatnicki (UFRGS)
  • 2010 - 2011
    Undergraduate Project: Biodegradability of diesel oil B (B7) by bacteria isolated from landfarming site
    Department of Microbiology, UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
    Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Adriana Cibele Dantas, Prof. Dr. Fatima Menezes Bento

Further information

Supervisors: Distinguished Professor Andy Ball and Professor Ivan Cole


  • Truskewycz, A, Beker, S, Ball, AS & Cole, I 2019, 'Photoluminescence Measurements of Carbon Quantum Dots within three-dimensional hydrogel matrices using a high throughput 96 well plate method', MethodsX, IN PRESS, Available online 26 February 2019.
  • Meyer, DD, Beker, SA, Heck, K, Peralba, M & Bento, FM 2018, 'Simulation of a surface spill of different diesel/biodiesel mixtures in an ultisol, using natural attenuation and bioaugmentation/biostimulation', Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, vol. 90, no. 3, pp. 2741-2752.
  • Bücker, F, de Moura, TM, da Cunha, ME, de Quadros, PD, Beker, SA, Cazarolli, JC, Caramão, EB, Frazzon, APG & Bento, FM 2018, 'Evaluation of the deteriogenic microbial community using qPCR, n-alkanes and FAMEs biodegradation in diesel, biodiesel and blends (B5, B10, and B50) during storage', Fuel, vol. 233, pp. 911-917.
  • Boelter, G, Cazarolli, JC, Beker, SA, de Quadros, PD, Correa, C, Ferrao, MF, Galeazzi, CF, Pizzolato, TM & Bento, FM 2018, 'Pseudallescheria boydii and Meyerozyma guilliermondii: behavior of deteriogenic fungi during simulated storage of diesel, biodiesel, and B10 blend in Brazil', Environmental Science and Pollution Research International, vol. 25, no. 30, pp. 30410-30424.
  • Beker, SA, da Silva, YP, Bücker, F, Cazarolli, JC, de Quadros, PD, Peralba, MdCR, Piatnicki, CMS & Bento, FM 2016, 'Effect of different concentrations of tert- butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) on microbial growth and chemical stability of soybean biodiesel during simulated storage', Fuel, vol. 184, pp. 701-707.
  • Beker, SA, Machado, ME, Maciel, GPS, Silva, R, Cataluña, R, Caramão, EB & Bento, FM 2015, 'Antimicrobial potential of bio-oil for use in diesel oil B10', Journal of the Brazilian Chemical Society, vol. 27, pp. 91-98.
  • Meyer, DD, Beker, SA, Bücker, F, Peralba, MdCR, Guedes Frazzon, AP, Osti, JF, Andreazza, R, Anastácio de Oliveira Camargo, F & Bento, FM 2014, 'Bioremediation strategies for diesel and biodiesel in oxisol from southern Brazil', International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, vol. 95, pp. 356-363.

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer