Meet the PI: Dr. Daniel Pletzer


Kathy Sircombe

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.

Contact: kathy.sircombe(at)

Dr. Sam Wardell

Sam joined the lab part-time as an Assistant Research Fellow (ARF) working on transcriptome analysis (RNA-Seq) of mono- and polymicrobial Pseudomonas aeruginosaStaphylococcus 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 and was recognized as an exceptional thesis at the University of Otago. His background ranges from molecular biology and biochemistry to bioinformatics and computational analysis.

Contact: sam.taylor-wardell(at)

Nikita Lyons

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)

PhD Students

Deborah Yung

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)

Contact: yunde607(at)

Minati Choudhury

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

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)

MSc Students

Alana Hampson

Alana joined the lab as a Master of Science (Microbiology) student in a collaborative project with Blis Technologies and Dr. Lyn Wise 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)

Contact: hamal380(at)

BSc Hons Students 2021

Claude Vincent

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

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)

This could be you!

Are you interested in infectious diseases or antimicrobial resistance?

Check out our opportunities and apply!

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)