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Our people

Jimmy Botella

Professor of Plant Biotechnology

BSc Quantum chemistry, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (Spain)

Hons Quantum chemistry, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (Spain)

PhD Biochemistry, Universidad de Malaga (Spain)


After graduating in quantum chemistry and doing just one biology subject in my 5 years degree, I ended up doing a PhD in biochemistry (long and funny story) followed by postdocs in Michigan State University and Pennsylvania State University. I moved to Australia in 1994 and founded the Plant Genetic Engineering Laboratory. My scientific interests are focused on plants but I’m really curious about pretty much everything, so it is easy to convince me to set collaborations on completely unrelated topics. When I am not filling up forms in triplicate for the bureaucrats, I like to go around the lab and annoy my students, and I am sure they appreciate my efforts (the students, not the bureaucrats). My average response time for emails is around 1.5 months and it is not unknown to receive my reply to the Christmas greetings in August-September.

Aside from science, my main interests are windsurf and kitesurf. So, don’t look for me in my office if it is windy because you won’t find me. I get 'wind-sickness' when it is blowing over 20 knots and have to leave urgently for the beach with my boards and kites.

Yuri Trusov

Postdoctoral scientist


I was born in Russia. I graduated from Novosibirsk University and worked as a researcher in the Institute of Cytology and Genetics. My scientific interests were always within the area of molecular mechanisms and evolution. In 1997 I moved to Australia and joined the Plant Genetic Engineering Laboratory. Since then I developed high level skills in plant molecular biology.


My spare time, vacations and holidays I prefer to spend in the lab.


Mike Mason

Postdoctoral Scientist


I amnot sure what I am yet but I'll tell JImmy soon.

Dang Thi Thanh Tam

PhD student


I am a PhD student in plant biotechnology from Vietnam. My project is the “Study of G-protein mediated signalling pathways in plant defence and cell death”.

I am an optimistic person. Working with plants is my favourite activity. I am not quite sure about the best four things that I’m good at, but might be cooking, baking, singing and working as scientist. Let’s be friends then you may know how good I am :)



Parastoo Karimian

PhD student


I am an Iranian PhD student in a multicultural lab, PGEL! 😊

My project currently focuses on the "Investigating the mechanism of G-proteins mediated defence in plants". 

Playing basketball and spending time in nature are my best leisure activities.   

Natsumi Maruta

PhD student


I am a PhD student from Japan. I joined PGEL during the third year of my undergraduate degree. My project was about host-delivered RNA interference for disease resistance against a fungal pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum. After that I did my Honours project on G proteins in plant immunity where we found that extra-large G proteins (XLGs) are involved in defence against different plant pathogens and that XLGs are partners of the heterotrimeric G protein beta-gamma dimer. As it was very exciting for me to study plant G proteins, I decided to further continue my research on XLGs for my PhD project.


Other than being in the lab, I also enjoy learning Spanish and dancing.


Wainer Montero

PhD student


I am a PhD student from Costa Rica. My project is related to Vanilla Biotechnological Improvement to increase disease resistance to Fusarium oxysporum. I really enjoy to work on the PGEL.

Out of the Lab, I love spend time with my family and TKD practices.

Yiping Zou

PhD student


I am a PhD student from China. My projects deals with the development of "next generation diagnostics". They are a combination of molecular biology and nanotechnology. Pretty cool technology.

Thi Thao Ninh

PhD student


I am PhD student and I come from Vietnam. My project is to investigate the roles of heterotrimeric G protein α and β subunits in tomato. I am using CRIPR gene editing technology to do it.


Reading and traveling are my hobbies.

Daniela Richaud

Master student


I am an Agricultural Engineer from Chile doing an Mphil at the PGEL lab. I am interest in Plant Breeding and I came here to learn about CRISPR gene editing technology. During my research project I will be investigating the role of heterotrimeric G protein γ type C subunits in tomato using CRISPR technology.


Apart from my love from plants I loved outdoors activities like climbing and trekking, also I like traveling, arts and crafts.

Jiayu Chen

Honours student


coming soon

Siyuan Wang

Honours student


coming soon

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