Pletzer lab 2023

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)

Postdoctoral Fellows and Staff

Dr Sam Wardell

Postdoctoral Fellow

Sam joined the lab 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)

Dr Rajesh Lamichhane

Postdoctoral Fellow

Rajesh joined the lab working on a Marsden-funded research project investigating S. aureus and P. aeruginosa co-infections.

Contact: rajesh.lamichhane(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)

Mark Nicholas Lemzin-Abdrashitov

Research Assistant

Mark joined the lab investigating the mechanisms of action of peptidomimetics.

Contact: lemma761(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: sirka135(at)

Simon Su

PhD student (Pharmacy)

Simon PhD project aims to create new antibiotic-peptide linkers to enhance drug uptake in P. aeruginosa.


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

Contact: susi1146(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)

Maddie Hardie Boys

BBiomedSc(Hons) student

Maddie joined the lab as a summer student working on the characterization of histone-like proteins in P. aeruginosa. She continues with a project on lipid modification and potassium uptake as a 4th year Biomedical Sciences (Hons) student.

Quals: BSc Biomedical Sciences

Contact: harma738(at)

Rory Smit

BMedSc Hons student

Rory is a 4th year Medical Science Hons student working on liposomes to combat S. aureus and A. baumannii.

Quals: Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery

Contact: smiro520(at)

Meg Vallabh

BBiomedSc(Hons) student

Meg joined the lab as a 4th year Biomedical Sciences Hons student working on various drug combinations to treat S. aureus infections.

Quals: Bachelor in Biomedical Sciences

Contact: valme427(at)

Stella Zhang

Postgraduate Diploma student

Stella joined the lab as a Postgraduate Diploma Microbiology student searching for novel antimicrobials to treat multidrug resistant ESKAPE pathogens.

Quals: BSc Microbiology

Contact: zhast131(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
  • Shuying Wee; BBiomedSc(Hons); 2022
  • Jess Henricks; BSc(Hons) Microbiology; 2022
  • Tiu Cullen; BSc(Hons) Microbiology; 2022
  • Bianca Tawatao; BSc(Hons) Microbiology; 2022
  • 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
  • Mervyn Lim (2022/23)
  • Rory Smith (2022/23)
  • Maddie Hardie Boys (2022/23)
  • 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)