Prof Nicole Webster: BSc (Hons I), PhD
I obtained my PhD in marine microbiology from James Cook University in 2001, studying how microorganisms contribute to the health of coral reef invertebrates. Moving from the tropics to the poles, my postdoctoral research was undertaken at the University of Canterbury, investigating the utility of microbes as biomarkers for environmental stress in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. In 2005 I commenced a role as research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and in 2017 I commenced a joint appointment as Professor at the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics, University of Qld. Throughout my research career, I have employed experimental and field-based ecological research combined with metagenomic, metatranscriptomic and advanced imaging approaches to uncover the contributions of microscopic life to the health, survival and adaptation of marine species. I have also had a strong focus on translating fundamental research outcomes into strategic tools for coral reef management. With an ever-growing desire to play a greater role in positioning science at the forefront of society's decision-making, in 2021 I commenced a position as Chief Scientist for the Australian Antarctic Division where I am looking forward to developing the innovative and collaborative pathways needed to improve our understanding, management and conservation of this wild and fragile ecosystem.
- This project is constructing the first Great Barrier Reef microbial genomics database to provide a framework to ascertain the environmental relevance / ecosystem consequences of changes in microbial community structure and function following environmental perturbation.
- This project is developing a unique molecular platform for deriving quantitative stress thresholds for microbial communities inhabiting key reef habitats (seawater, sediments, invertebrates).
- This project is assessing the establishment and maintenance of microbial symbiosis in a model marine sponge species, visualizing physiological interactions between host and symbionts and assessing stability of the partnership under future climate conditions.
In situ Cultivation of Reef Symbionts
- Development of a microscale isolation system (SYMBIO-CHIP) that will enable the first in situ cultivation and recovery of recalcitrant symbionts and unravel the microbial functions that support host's health and ecology.