Pletzer lab 2022

Meet our Team

Dr Daniel Pletzer

Principial Investigator

Daniel started his laboratory at the University of Otago in 2019. Follow this link to learn more about his journey from Austria to New Zealand: Meet the PI

Contact: daniel.pletzer(at)


Dr Sam Wardell

Assistant Research Fellow

Sam joined the lab as an Assistant Research Fellow (ARF) working on transcriptome analysis (RNA-Seq) of mono- and polymicrobial Pseudomonas aeruginosa–Staphylococcus aureus infections. He obtained his PhD in Biochemistry in Prof. Iain Lamont’s lab at the University of Otago. His thesis was on the evolution of antibiotic resistance in P. aeruginosa. His background ranges from molecular biology and biochemistry to bioinformatics and computational analysis.

Contact: sam.taylor-wardell(at)

Nikita Lyons

Assistant Research Fellow

Nikita joined the lab as an Assistant Research Fellow (ARF) working on combinatorial therapies for Pseudomonas aeruginosa. She has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience and Genetics from the University of Otago and a research background across cellular and molecular biology. Her research interests include synergistic influencers of disease, and the use of genetic technologies to investigate cellular function & dysfunction. Outside the lab she rides racehorses and enjoys contributing to science outreach programs.

Nikita works part time with Prof. Iain Lamont on an HRC-China Biomedical Research Project.

Contact: nikita.lyons(at)

Postgraduate students

Deborah Yung

PhD student

Deb is a PhD (Microbiology) student working on Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus biofilms and treating them with novel antimicrobials such as peptoids in vitro and in vivo. She is also interested in bacterial and fungal skin infections, specifically necrotising fasciitis. Outside the lab, Deb enjoys playing and coaching hockey, playing the violin, reading and drawing.

Quals: BSc hons Micro (1st class), BSc Micro (major) Japanese (minor)

Deb is co-supervised with A/Prof Lyn Wise.

Contact: yunde607(at)

Minati Choudhury

PhD student

Minati is a Prosthodontist with experience in rehabilitation of head and neck cancer patients. She is a PhD (Dentistry) student working on the antimicrobial, antibiofilm, and immunomodulatory activity of nanoparticles against oral microbes and their possible use in cancer care.

Minati is co-supervised with Dr. Don Schwass, A/Prof. Geoffrey Tompkins, A/Prof. Carla Meledandri, and Prof. Paul Brunton.

Contact: chomi713(at)

Catherine Ross

PhD student (Pharmacy)

Catherine joined our lab as a PhD (Pharmacy) student, investigating prodrug strategies to promote site specific delivery of antibiotics. Outside of the lab, Catherine works as a pharmacist.

Quals: BPharm hons (1st class)

Catherine is co-supervised with Prof Sarah Hook and A/Prof Allan Gamble.

Contact: rosca196(at)

Kathy Sircombe

PhD student (Pharmacy)

Kathy worked in the lab as a part-time Assistant Research Fellow (2020-2021) and recently started her journey as a PhD (Pharmacy) student. She has a broad research background ranging from molecular pharmacology to epigenetics. Her main research interests encompass the idea of how diseases and conditions that affect us in our younger years or as transient exposures can affect us later in life. In her spare time, she enjoys heading into the outdoors, and she is also a volunteer Girl-Guide Leader.

Quals: BSc (2016) and MSc (2019) Genetics

Kathy is co-supervised with Prof. Sarah Hook and A/Prof. Allan Gamble

Contact: kathy.sircombe(at)

Alana Hampson

MSc student

Alana joined the lab as a Master of Science (Microbiology) student in a collaborative project with Blis Technologies testing skin probiotics against ESKAPE pathogens. Outside of the lab, Alana is the Chief Financial Officer for Chiasma Dunedin, an organisation that creates links between academia and the wider science, technology and engineering (STEM) industries.

Quals: BSc hons Micro (1st class), BSc Micro (major) Politics (minor)

Alana is co-supervised with A/Prof Lyn Wise.

Contact: hamal380(at)

Shuying Wee

BBiomedSc(Hons) student

Shuying joined the lab as a summer student working on the immunomodulatory activity of novel peptidomimetics. She continues her work as a 4th year Biomedical Sciences (Hons) student.

Quals: BSc Biomedical Sciences

Contact: weshu898(at)

Jess Henricks

BSc Hons student

Jess joined the lab as a 4th year Microbiology Hons student working on peptide-functionalized hydrogels to treat Pseudomonas infections.

Quals: BSc Microbiology

Jess is co-supervised with Dr Jaydee Cabral

Contact: henje903(at)

Tiu Cullen

BSc Hons student

Tiu joined the lab as a 4th year Microbiology Hons student working on the anti-motility activity of ascorbic acid against multidrug resistant Pseudomonas.

Quals: BSc Microbiology

Contact: culti853(at)

Bianca Tawatao

BSc Hons student

Bianca joined the lab as a 4th year Microbiology Hons student working on peptide – antibiotic combinations to treat Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Quals: BSc Microbiology

Contact: tawbi727(at)

This could be you!

Check out our opportunities

Are you interested in infectious diseases or antimicrobial resistance?

Apply now!

Previous students in the lab

Postgraduate Honours Students
  • Claude Vincent; BSc(Hons) Microbiology; 2021
  • Finn Dusterwald; DipSci Genetics; 2021
  • Deborah Yung; BSc(Hons) Microbiology; 2020
  • Alana Hampson; BSc(Hons) Microbiology; 2020
  • Sophie Qiu; BBiomedSc(Hons); 2020
Summer Students
  • Amy Johnston (2021/22)
  • Shuying Wee (2021/22)
  • Michelle Cronje (2021/22)
  • Claude Vincent (2020/21)
  • Alana Hampson (2020/21)
  • Deborah Yung (2019/20/21)

Previous visiting researchers in the lab

Dr Shilpa Saseendran Nair

Shilpa is the Director of ‘Real World Labs Limited‘ providing science consultancy services mainly on antibacterial efficacy testing.

Contact: ssn.shilpa11(at), info(at)