Professor Vincent Pettigrove - Chief Investigator
I am the Chief Investigator for the Aquatic Environmental Stress research group (AQUEST) at RMIT University. My primary research interests are to understand and address the impacts of aquatic pollution on aquatic ecosystems. Other research interests include freshwater sediment toxicity, exotic fish management, pesticide pollution, endocrine disrupting chemicals, macroinvertebrates and the use of fish and other biota as indicators of sediment pollution. I have designed and conducted a broad range of biological and water quality research and monitoring programs that help catchment management authorities, water authorities and environmental regulators identify the priority issues impacting aquatic ecosystems. I have produced over 100 published journal articles and peer-reviewed conference papers. I was the Chief Executive Officer at the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM) at the University of Melbourne from 2010 to 2018 and has over 30 years of experience working with and within government agencies assessing freshwater aquatic ecosystems and understanding the impact of pollution on these systems.
Professor Dayanthi Nugegoda
I have led the Ecotoxicology Research Group at RMIT University since 2004. And was also a research leader for the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM) based at the University of Melbourne (2010-2015). My group has developed novel methods to assess, monitor and evaluate the effect of toxicants and other environmental stressors on aquatic organisms, and ecosystems and received international recognition. These include research on trace metals, pesticides, endocrine disrupting chemicals and cyanobacterial toxins; effects of salinity on freshwater systems, and ocean acidification on biota from rotifers to seabirds. In 2018, in partnership with Vincent Pettigrove, I set up the Aquatic Prevention Pollution Partnership funded by Melbourne Waterat RMIT, which is incorporated into the Aquatic Environmental Stress (AQUEST) Research group. From 2011- 2013, I was elected President of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Australasia. I have contributed expert opinion on many government panels including the environmental impacts of Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining , on pesticides to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) of Australia, on ecotoxicology to The New South Wales Environment Trust; The Research Councils of Hongkong, South Africa, Norway, France and the Netherlands; The OECD Validation Management Group for Ecotoxicity Tests (VMG-eco); The SETAC Global Bioaccumulation Advisory Group and Animal Alternatives Advisory Group and to the Australian Shipowners Association. In 2015 I served on the Scientific Reference Panel for Onshore Natural Gas and Water for the State of Victoria, and was re-appointed to the Science Panel for the Victorian Coastal Council. In 2017 I was invited by the Lead Scientist of Victoria to join the Scientific Reference Group for Onshore Conventional Gas until 2020 I have graduated >21 PhD and 5 Masters by research candidates, and generated internationally acclaimed research outputs as author or co-author since 1987; with more than 150 papers, 3 books and 3 book chapters published.
Dr Hung Vu - Aquatic Ecotoxicoligist
I completed my master's degree in Environmental toxicology at Clemson University, United States (2009), looking at the toxicity of pulsed copper exposures to Daphnia magna. I obtained my PhD from The University of Melbourne in August 2017. My PhD research focused on the impacts of single and mixture of fungicides on crustaceans and organic matter breakdown in aquatic ecosystems using variety of laboratory and field methods. I am interested in developing standard toxicology bioassays and biomarkers to assess effects of pollutants on aquatic organisms.
Dr Sara Long - Senior Research Fellow
After completing my PhD at RMIT on the effects of crude oil on marine invertebrates, I worked as an ecotoxicologist at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) at Monks Wood, UK. Here I investigated the effects of exposure patterns (acute, chronic, intermittent) of pesticides and industrial contaminants on detoxification responses in terrestrial animals. I was also involved in a European Union-funded framework 6 project assessing risk of chemicals on biodiversity. I managed a collaborative project between CEH and the University of Cambridge developing small metabolite biomarkers of pesticide exposure using novel metabolomics techniques. I returned to Australia in 2009 and worked at the University of Melbourne/CAPIM between then and July 2018. I started working at the Aquatic Environmental Stress (AQUEST) research group in September 2018. My main focus has been developing methods to measure and understand biological effects of environmental stressors in local Australian species that can be used in biomonitoring programs to assess the condition of waterways. I have co-supervised two PhD students to completion, three Master’s students and one graduate diploma student. I am currently co-supervising three PhD students. My research interests are in understanding how environmental stressors (chemical as well as natural) are toxic to organisms. I use a range of techniques to get a better understanding of the mechanisms of toxicity such as metabolomics and enzyme assays as well as measures of fitness, such as growth, reproduction and fecundity. I am also interested in linking early warning biomarker responses in individual organisms to higher level ecological effects such as community responses.
Dr Kathryn Hassell - Senior Research Fellow
I completed my undergraduate degree in biology and an honours project in crustacean aquaculture at RMIT University, for the award of B.App.Sci.(Hons) in 2003. I received my PhD in fish biology in 2009 from RMIT University and worked as a research fellow at the University of Melbourne from2009-2018. I have completed research exchanges at Brunel University (London, UK) and Nagasaki University (Japan), and my research is focused on understanding the impacts of environmental pollutants on fish health and reproduction. I utilise laboratory studies on early life stages as well as biomonitoring studies with adult fishes, and use a range of techniques, including histological analyses, molecular and protein-based biomarkers and morphological assessments. I work with freshwater and estuarine species inhabiting a range of environments, including urban streams and wetlands, sites downstream of wastewater treatment plant discharges and coastal estuaries.
Dr Claudette Kellar - Senior Research Fellow
I completed my undergraduate degree in biological science and completed an honours degree in invertebrate ecology at Deakin University in 1999. In 2004, I completed my PhD thesis at Monash University investigating macroinvertebrate assemblages in temporary ponds. I was previously a research fellow at CAPIM, the University of Melbourne working in the freshwater aquatic pollution and prevention area. I have over 15 years’ experience in freshwater ecology and am experienced at designing, sampling, identifying invertebrates, statistically analysing data and writing publications/reports. I began working at Aquatic Environmental Stress (AQUEST) Research Group, RMIT University in 2019. I am currently a senior research fellow and manage a number of projects, including the Aquatic Pollution Prevention Partnership (A3P) projects, that investigate the effects of pollution on freshwater systems and deliver cost effective tools for waterway managers. I have co-supervised a number of masters students and am currently co-supervising two PhD students. My main research focus is to describe the impact of pollutants on aquatic macroinvertebrates and to combine chemistry and biology to identify causes of ecosystem stress using a multiple lines of evidence approach. Other areas of research include macroinvertebrate community structure and ecology, effects of environmental stressors on different levels of biological organisation, environmental impacts and assessment.
Dr Jackie Myers - Senior Research Fellow
I completed my undergraduate degree in marine and freshwater science and an honours degree in aquatic ecotoxicology at Deakin University in 2002. In 2008 I was awarded my PhD in aquatic toxicology/algal physiology at Monash University. I am an Aquatic Ecotoxicologist with over 17 years’ experience in this field. My research interests are focused around marine and freshwater ecotoxicology, particularly on understanding how human-induced stressors affect flora and fauna in aquatic environments. Since completing my PhD I have worked with industry, government and research organisations in Australia, Japan and New Zealand on various projects using aquatic plants and algae, invertebrates and fish to assess acute and chronic effects of environmental and anthropogenic stressors such as pesticides, nutrients, algal toxins and general water quality parameters in multiple lines of evidence approaches to understand pollution issues in marine, estuarine and freshwater environments. I joined RMIT in 2018 as a senior research scientist with the Aquatic Environmental Stress Research group (AQUEST) and Aquatic Pollution Prevention Partnership (A3P). Current projects I am involved in evolve around chemical use, litter, citizen science and environmental assessment.
Dr Ana F Miranda - Research Fellow
I completed a BSc degree in Biology and Honours in ecotoxicology at the Universidade de Aveiro Portugal in 2007. Receiving a Leonardo scholarship I interned at the Polytechnic University of Catalunya, Spain where I focused on the toxicity of pesticides and heavy metals in water and sediment to aquatic invertebrates. I joined RMIT University in 2009 as a research assistant and worked across several projects in ecotoxicology using a range of test organisms and evaluating the effects of contaminants such as nanoparticles, microplastics, metals, pesticides and endocrine disrupting chemicals. In 2012, I joined the algal biotechnology group as a research officer working on several projects using algae and aquatic plants as bioindicators, for bioremediation, biofuel and valuable products. In 2015 I started the ‘Marine Bioluminescence Signatures” project in developing molecular markers for the identification of Australian marine dinoflagellates in a collaborative project with the Defence Science Technology Group. Completing my PhD, evaluating the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on Australian native fish, in 2018, I then joined the Aquatic Environmental Stress research group (AQUEST) at RMIT University as a research fellow. My current research interests are to understand the impacts of pollution on different organisms, from algae to marine mammals, using different biomarkers. I also am interested in metagenomics for molecular taxonomy and assessment of ecosystem perturbations.
Monica Tewman - Senior Co-ordinator, Knowledge and Communications (Knowledge Broker)
I am the Senior Co-ordinator, Knowledge and Communications (or Knowledge Broker) for the Aquatic Environmental Stress research group (AQUEST) at RMIT University including the A3P partnership. My background is in Aquatic Science; having obtained my BSc degree in Environmental and Conservation Biology and an Honours degree at Monash University in 2003, where I focussed on the effects of urbanisation on macroinvertebrates. With 15 years’ experience in the water industry, 13 were at Melbourne Water, in various roles including investigating river health through flora and fauna survey, custodian of the long term water quality network, heading investigations into the long-term effects of river restoration works and looking for efficiencies in capital works processes, including fishway construction. I have always had a strong focus on turning science into practical on ground solutions and improvements. In February 2019, I joined AQUEST which plays to my strengths, using my organisational knowledge of Melbourne Water to connect with the right people and processes to enable the best on ground river health solutions.
Michael Clark - Research Assistant
I obtained my BSc in Applied Science from RMIT University through OUA in 2016 and completed honours in ecotoxicology at RMIT in 2017, where I focused on the effects of three commercial insecticide formulations and the mixtures thereof on two native freshwater crustacean species. I joined AQUEST in February 2019 where my main focus is in the analysis of freshwater macroinvertebrate samples, building on skills learnt during my over 10 years’ experience as a volunteer with the WaterWatch citizen science program, performing water quality monitoring of freshwater ecosystems. Since joining AQUEST, I have been involved and gained experience in a range of aquatic research and management projects. My main areas of interest are in understanding the effects of pollutants on macroinvertebrate populations and communities, and in increasing the range of standard Australian native species used for standard toxicology bioassays.
Rebecca Reid - Research Assistant
I obtained my Bachelor in Animal and Veterinary BioSciences from LaTrobe University in mid 2009, and joined CAPIM later the same year. There I was responsible for maintenance of the chironomid, amphipod and snail cultures for use in the sediment toxicity work in the laboratory, as well as field deployment of some of these animals. I gained a large volume of knowledge on the life history traits and required culture and experiment conditions for these animals. As well as managing the running of the toxicity tests, collecting the data, and processing the samples at the end of a test in the lab. I was also in charge of placing orders for all laboratory consumables and ensuring that the lab was always fully stocked. In addition, I helped out with other field or lab work where required. This position has continued since I moved across to AQUEST at RMIT in January 2019.
Daniel MacMahon - Research Assistant
I obtained my BSc from La Trobe University in 2005. Following this I worked as an inorganic chemist at an environmental laboratory for a number of years; here I gained considerable experience in water and soil testing. I joined the CAPIM team in October 2009 and have since gained valuable experience working on a broad range of aquatic research and management projects. Moving with the team to RMIT in August 2018, under the banner of AQUEST. My research interests are broad and varied. Main areas of interest include: Developing and testing novel passive samplers for use by AQUEST and its industry partners Implementing stormwater monitoring programs to source pollutions hotspots for Melbourne Water and councils Using chironomid deformities as indicators of aquatic pollution.
Adrian Ixcoatl Cervantes - PhD Candidate
I completed my undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo (Mexico) in 2003. I entered industry as a quality control engineer for two years, and after that I spent one year as a process engineer at the biggest petrol refinery in Mexico. In 2011, I graduated with a master of science in environmental engineering from the UMSN (Mexico), a three years program during which I worked on identifying specific river environmental flows in the Lerma’s river (physical habitat simulation), Mexico. At the same time in 2011, I co-founded an environmental consultancy company that is still running in Mexico. In 2015, I won an international scholarship from the Mexican Government. In addition, I was awarded a scholarship from the University of Melbourne, and joined CAPIM as a PhD student in December 2015. My research field is water pollution and water management. My PhD focuses on identifying and understanding pesticide pathways through groundwater and how they may affect groundwater dependant ecosystems. My research interest are ecotoxicology, aquatic environments, and environmental metabolomics.
Rhys has worked at Melbourne Water for 23 years, including 11 years in his current role as the manager of waterways and wetlands research. His previous roles at Melbourne Water involved strategic waterway management planning, as well as waterway health monitoring and investigations. During this time, in addition to completing a part-time PhD at the University of Melbourne and a part-time Master of Science at Monash University, he has also participated in several collaborative research projects as an industry partner with various universities and government agencies.
Ms Gina Mondschein - Aquatic Ecologist, BSc, M.Sc
I completed my Masters of Science at the University of Melbourne and CAPIM in 2015. Since then, I have worked on various projects with a strong focus on aquatic entomology and ecology. I have six years of experience collecting, identifying and processing macroinvertebrate samples as well as skills in project management, teaching and report writing. Most recently, I have assisted with a broad range of projects in areas including long term macroinvertebrate monitoring, ecotoxicology and litter management. My research interests include developing novel macroinvertebrate and habitat assessment techniques, implementing measures to maximise and retain in-stream habitat, and improving indicators for riverine health. I have extensive experience collecting terrestrial and aquatic macroinvertebrates under various conditions in catchments across Victoria.