Professional Staff
Meet our team of professional staff who will work with you throughout your project. The team have a comprehensive set of skills and deep technical knowledge gained from years of experience working in research and commercial laboratories.

Service Managers

Jackie Chan

Jackie has been the manager of our Sanger sequencing service since 2011. She was awarded her PhD in 2015 from UNSW on the molecular and population genetics of prawns. Jackie has over 14 years of experience with Sanger sequencing from design through to data analysis and has extensive hands-on experience with the technology and its application. She is also the service manager for our Fluidigm and NanoString services, providing clients with expert advice on the broad application of these platforms.

Jason Koval

Jason has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2008. He graduated from UNSW in 2008 with a Master of Science in Biotechnology. Jason manages the operations and resourcing for the Centre’s Illumina DNA, metagenome, amplicon and targeted DNA sequencing services. He also previously implemented and managed the Roche 454 sequencing service, Sanger sequencing and fragment analysis services. Prior to this, Jason worked at Silliker Inc. Food Science Centre (USA) as an operations supervisor and microbiologist.

Helena Mangs

Helena has extensive expertise in genomics, transcriptomics and epigenetics, her passion is to guide and support researchers in their application. She has been at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2011, prior to this she was an NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow at Sydney University. Her interest in molecular biology started over 20 years ago, when she completed a post-doctoral Licentiate degree at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Her previous research spans from blood clotting to RNA splicing and the underlying molecular biology of tumor suppression. Helena manages the operations and resourcing for the Centre’s Illumina large genome, exome, transcriptome and single cell sequencing services.

Tonia Russell

Tonia has been providing sequencing services to the scientific community for over 18 years. Since starting at the Centre in 2009 she has gained experience in Sanger sequencing, short read NGS sequencing and long-read sequencing. Tonia established the Centre’s long-read sequencing services using PacBio sequencing technology and is currently driving the development of our Oxford Nanopore and HiC services. Tonia’s career in the provision of scientific services also includes three years in London at the National Amyloidosis Centre where she provided genetic testing for the diagnosis of Familial Mediterranean Fever and Amyloidosis.

Research Officers

Erika Becker

Erika has been working as a Research Officer in the microarray team at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2012. She has a wealth of experience in genotyping and gene expression array technology. Erika was awarded her PhD in 2003 from the University of Queensland and she has worked in various laboratories and research centres in Queensland and NSW gaining extensive experience in both molecular and cell biology.

Angela Chilton

Angela has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2015. She completed her undergraduate degree in biological sciences at the University of Western Sydney and was awarded her PhD from UNSW on the microbial and molecular diversity of biological soil crusts of Australia in 2018. Angela works as a research officer in the Amplicon Service, providing expert technical and project planning assistance to clients including pre- and post-project support.

Caitriona Murray

Caitriona was awarded her PhD from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland on genetic variation in the bovine genome: signatures of selection and demographic history in 2008. She has been at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2014 and works as a Research Officer in the Next Generation Sequencing team. Prior to this, she worked at the University of Southampton, UK as a project technician, specialising in plant tissue culture and C. elegans.

Jessica Gurr

Jessica has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2019. She was awarded her PhD in 2018 at the University of Sydney on developing genomic tools for the management of threatened species. Jessica works as a Research Officer within the Next Generation Sequencing team, providing a broad range of technical and project planning advice to clients undertaking transcriptomic, epigenomic, or genomic sequencing projects. Prior to this, she worked at the Dog Breeding Science, designing and optimising new PCR-based assays for coat phenotypes and genetic disorders in dogs.

Dr Christie Foster

Christie has been working as a Research Assistant in the Microarray team at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2020. Prior to this, she worked in biodiscovery/biotechnology, molecular microbiology and environmental science fields. She was awarded her PhD in 2015 from the University of Sydney on Studies on the Biology of Chromera velia: Flagellar Assembly, In Vitro Growth Improvement, and Novel Pigmentation. Her interests lie in plant conservation, ecology and biodiversity, where she volunteers as a fieldwork assistant with the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan and a citizen science contributor for the “Wild Pollinator Count” and “Great Cicada Blitz” citizen science projects.

Darshi Ramesh

Darshi has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2015, as a Research Officer in the Next Generation Sequencing team. She was awarded her PhD in 2004 from the University of Sydney on the influence of glucocorticoids on osteoclast formation activity and life span. Darshi has extensive professional expertise and knowledge across a wide spectrum of research techniques including molecular biology, tissue culture and immunology.

Stefano Vecchiarelli

Stefano has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2016. He graduated from Brunel University (UK) with a Master of Science in molecular medicine and cancer research in 2013. Stefano is a Research Officer within the Next Generation Sequencing Team, performing tasks such as assisting in the management of DNA projects, implementing the Centre’s robotic liquid handling systems and providing backup and technical support for the Centre’s Illumina NGS sequencers.

Dr Gurjeet Kohli

Gurjeet has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2019. He was awarded his PhD from UNSW on developing molecular diagnostic tools and formulating strategies to manage risk of a human illness (Ciguatera) caused due to harmful algal blooms in 2014. Gurjeet works as a Research Officer in the Centre within the Amplicon Service team. Prior to this, he has worked in Germany and Singapore, as well as the University of Technology Sydney, gaining experience in project management, bioinformatic analysis and planning and executing molecular biology experiments.

Dr Kerry Nutt

Kerry has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2020, as a research officer, specialising in sequencing via Illumina platforms. She was awarded her PhD in 2006 at Queensland University of Technology on characterisation of proteinase inhibitors from canegrubs for possible application to genetically engineer pest-derived resistance into sugarcane. Kerry is currently working on obtaining her masters in diagnostic genomics at the Queensland University of Technology.

Research Assistants

Kylie Cairns
Scott Genner

Scott has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2018. He graduated with a Bachelor of Medical Science (First Class Honours) from the University of Technology in 2014. Scott is a Research Assistant within the Next Generation Sequencing Team, performing tasks such as quality control checks, and preparing samples for sequencing. Prior to this, he worked at the Heart Research Institute, performing a wide variety of molecular biology techniques to produce quality data for publication.

Rhys Stark

Rhys has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2018. He graduated from University of Technology with a Bachelor of Biotechnology (First Class Honours) in 2015. Rhys is a Research Assistant within the Next Generation Sequencing team, performing tasks such as generating sample quality control reports, and preparing samples for sequencing. Prior to this, he worked at The Garvan Institute, investigating personalised treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Crystal Cui

Crystal has been working as a Research Assistant in the Amplicon Service since 2019. Prior to this, she worked as a research assistant at Shandong University, China and a microbiologist technician for Mérieux NutriSciences, Madison, USA. Crystal graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from University of Wisconsin (USA) in 2017. Crystal’s has extensive technical experience in genomics, microbiology and chemical engineering research.

Chathurika has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2021. She was awarded her PhD in 2020 at Western Sydney University for ecological interactions of rhizobia and their effects on the nitrogen nutrition of field pea. Chathurika is a Research Assistant within the Amplicon Service team. Prior to this, she worked at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, extracting and sequencing soil DNA.

Support Staff

Robin Heron

Robin graduated from UNSW in 2012 with a Masters of Information Technology, and has been providing IT support for the Ramaciotti Centre since 2011. Working within the Research Technology Services group, Robin supports the Centre by managing storage systems and backup solutions, managing HPC systems, and by procuring hardware and infrastructure for projects and advising on purchases. He assists researchers with computing on various platforms including AWS, Azure and the national facility NCI.

Keren Natalia

Keren has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2018 as the Centre Quality Manager. She is a quality management system professional with 15 years’ experience specialising in quality system implementation based on ISO9001, ISO13485 and ISO/IEC17025 (NATA). Keren also has a background in medical microbiology and immunology, graduating from UNSW with a Bachelor of Science in 2004.

abigail

Abigail has been working at the Ramaciotti Centre since 2018. She graduated from UNSW in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Medical Microbiology and Immunology. Abigail provides executive support, general administration, and software implementation of the CRM system. Prior to this, she worked in the strata industry in various administrative roles.