Pletzer lab 2021

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)


Kathy Sircombe

Assistant Research Fellow

Kathy joined the lab part-time as an Assistant Research Fellow (ARF) working on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, polymicrobial infections, and animal models. She has a BSc (2016) and MSc (2019) in Genetics from the University of Otago and 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.

Kathy also works part time with A/Prof. Jo Kirman.

Contact: kathy.sircombe(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.

Sam also works part time with Prof. Iain Lamont.

Contact: sam.taylor-wardell(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 Dr 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

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 Dr. Allan Gamble.

Contact: rosca196(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 Dr Lyn Wise.

Contact: hamal380(at)

Claude Vincent

BSc Hons student

Claude joined the lab as a 4th year Microbiology Hons student working on the stringent stress response and creating Tn-Seq libraries in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. With a major in Microbiology and a minor in Pharmacology, Claude’s research interests involve antimicrobial resistance, especially in a hospital setting. Claude is a talented artist and plays volleyball.

Quals: BSc Microbiology (major) Pharmacology (minor)

Contact: vincl731(at)

Finn Dusterwald

BSc Hons student

Finn joined the lab as a 4th year Genetics Hons student working on the stringent stress response and SpoT-mediated regulation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Finns research interests include the use of bioinformatic applications in better understanding antimicrobial resistance. Outside of the lab, Finn enjoys playing football and bouldering, and a wide variety of instruments including the marimba.

Quals: BSc Microbiology, DipSci Genetics

Contact: dusfi481(at)

Visiting Researchers

Dr Shilpa Saseendran Nair

Visiting Researcher

Shilpa joined the lab as a visiting researcher as part of the project requirements with her clients. She is the Director of ‘Real World Labs Limited‘ providing science consultancy services mainly on antibacterial efficacy testing. She has completed a PhD in Molecular medicine (MBIE funded) from the University of Auckland, focusing on biocidal options to control the transmission of pathogens. She is also working as a part-time tutor in Crimson Education. She is a professional classical dancer, interested in travelling and exploring nature.

Quals: PhD in Molecular Medicine, MSc in Biotechnology, BSc in Biotechnology and Botany (double majors).

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

Further information: Real World Labs Limited

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
  • Deborah Yung; BSc(Hons); 2020
  • Alana Hampson; BSc(Hons); 2020
  • Sophie Qiu; BBiomedSc(Hons); 2020
Summer Students
  • Claude Vincent (2020/2021)
  • Alana Hampson (2020/2021)
  • Deborah Yung (2019/2020/2021)