Executive Staff

Portrait of Dean Jerry

Dean Jerry


Professor Jerry is the Director of the ARC ITRH for Advanced Prawn Breeding. He has over 18 years in genetic research and has an outstanding record in the delivery of applied genetic solutions to the aquaculture industry. In the hub he is responsible for managerial oversight and coordination of science activities, facilitating communication among participating organisations, and acting as the major conduit to industry partners ensuring project outcomes are translated. He also acts as coordinator and mentor for Post-doctoral and PhD candidates within the ARC ITRH.

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Portrait o Kyall Zenger

Kyall Zenger

Deputy Director and Work-package Leader

Professor Zenger coordinates work-package 3 in regard to the generation of genomic resources, as well as facilitates achievement of activities in work-package 2. He will mentor the bioinformatics post-doc and PhD students. Prof. Zenger has established expertise in genomics, genetic map construction and experience with applied genetic solutions delivered for a diverse portfolio of species and animal production industries.

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Casey Bajema

Casey maintains a broad range of biological, environmental, molecular and genetic data within a fully-integrated database. Casey applies quality assurance procedures to ensure data integrity and accurate information is accessible to several academic and research institutions and industry partners as part of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Hub (ITRH) for Advanced Prawn Breeding.
Casey maintains a range of data from commercial prawn farm data to experimental research data, through to next generation sequencing and whole genome datasets for prawns using MySQL (Structured Query Language) databases.

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Portrait of Greg Coman

Greg Coman

Work-package Leader

Dr Coman coordinates the development of the families required to produce the specific phenotypic and genetic resources required within the project. A large part of this role will be overseeing the development of the pedigreed families required for evaluation in commercial ponds and in the challenge systems at Bribie Island Research Centre.
Dr Coman has direct experience in the domestication of Penaeus monodon, and the design and deployment of commercial prawn breeding programs with Australian and international aquaculture ventures.

Portrait of Dallas Donovan

Dallas Donovan

Industry Partner Seafarms Ltd

Mr Donovan is the Chief Operating Officer for Seafarms Group Ltd, Australia’s largest prawn farming business. He has more than 20 years’ experience in all facets of aquaculture management.
Mr Donovan manages R&D activities related to Seafarms, including coordination of hatchery and grow-out components, along with allocation of staff and resources. Mr Donovan has vast experience in managing industry collaborative R&D as the Director of Aquaculture and Operations for the National Prawn Company, Saudi Arabia he was responsible for privately funded and collaborative R&D projects. He has previously been the Chairman of the Australian Prawn Farmers Association’s R&D Committee.

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Portrait of Andrew Foote

Andrew Foote

Research Fellow

Dr Foote is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, working principally in the phenotype acquisition team. He has experience in running a range of replicated prawn trials including reproductive performance, nutrition, ploidy manipulation and viral challenges. He has experience with techniques for high-throughput, automated processing of prawn tissues using robotics for genotyping and viral assays as well as advanced imaging and gene expression techniques. He will co-supervise students and provide training to technical staff within the hub.

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Portrait of Roger Huerlimann

Roger Huerlimann

Work-package Leader

Dr Huerlimann is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, mainly working on genome/transcriptome bioinformatic analyses. Roger is experienced in molecular lab based activities (RNA/DNA extractions, quality control, library preparation), next-generation sequencing, and de novo assembly of transcriptomes and genomes. He is responsible for co-ordinating the sequencing, assembly, annotation and analysis of the Penaeus monodon transcriptome/genome. He will co-supervise students and provide training to technical staff within the hub.

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Sandra Hughes

Research Project Officer

Sandra provides information, operational and administrative support services to the Director and other executive personnel within the ARC ITRH. Sandra assists with special projects and initiatives within the hub, contributes to submissions and requests for data and information and is a key contributor to the communication interface between the ARC ITRH Executive Team.

Portrait of Herman Raadsma

Herman Raadsma

Work-package Leader

Professor Raadsma has an outstanding track record in livestock animal breeding using advanced quantitative genomic methods (ie.,genomic selection). Prof. Raadsma will be primarily responsible for overseeing the project design and direction of the quantitative genetic analyses and genomic selection, modelling and validation of the genetic predictions. Prof Raadsma will also have input in work-packages 1,3 and 4 to maximise crosslinking of expertise.

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Portrait of Kirby Siemering

Kirby Siemering

Industry Partner AGRF

Dr Siemering will coordinate the delivery of relevant elements of the Genomic Sequence work-package and will advise on scientific strategy, experimental design, and coordinate deliverables with bioinformatics and other project team members. He will coordinate collaborations on technology development for genome and transcriptome sequencing and assembly. Dr Siemering has extensive experience managing large and complex genomics projects.

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Portrait of Nick Wade

Nick Wade

Work-package Leader

Dr Wade is the Research Manager for the hub being responsible for facilitating communcation and coordination of the science among work-packages and industry partners.  Dr Wade will also provide science direction and leadership in the Phenotypic Acquisition Workpackage, where he coordinates CSIRO and JCU staff and resources to collect diverse measures of phenotypic traits in commercial prawn production, and during replicated phenotypic challenge trials. Dr Wade has experience in various molecular and biochemical techniques in prawns and fish, with links to the underlying functional molecular mechanisms of complex traits in prawns. He will also co-supervise students and provide training to technical and postdoctoral staff.

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Research Staff

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Jeff Cowley

Dr Cowley is a Virologist in the CSIRO phenotype acquisition team overseeing research to identify whether families of prawns can be selected for resilience against viral disease. Dr Cowley has extensive experience in running viral challenge trials and in applying molecular tests to track the progress of infection in individual prawns. He is also involved in overseeing other prawn breeding and research objectives focused on minimizing impacts of viral disease and in co-supervising students as well as technical and postdoctoral staff.

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Mehar Khatkar

Dr Khatkar is a lead researcher in computational genomics, and application of DNA markers in genetic improvement of livestock species.  He will be primarily responsible for quantitative genetic analysis, modelling breeding design and validation of genomic selection strategies.

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Agnes Le Port

Dr Le Port is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow who will help with continuous project development improvements with the Director of the Hub, Professor Jerry and the Executive team. She will assist and co-supervise honours and higher degree research students. She will be utilizing appropriate and current techniques/protocols in experimental laboratory management to ensure integrity, security and replicability of experimental procedures are carried out. She will also be responsible to communicate quality research in high ranking international scientific journals and provide conceptual support to projects.

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Christopher Stratford

Chris assists Dr Coman coordinate the development of families required to produce the specific phenotypic and genetic traits required for a successful breeding program. He will be primarily responsible for rearing animals required in the challenge systems at Bribie Island Research Centre (BIRC), as well as designing and maintaining aquaculture systems. His role will also be assisting in the development of the pedigreed families required for evaluation in commercial ponds and collection of phenotypes from commercial production ponds.

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Cheryl Tan

Cheryl works as a research assistant providing molecular laboratory support as part of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Hub (ITRH) for Advanced Prawn Breeding. Other roles include accurate measurement of genetic and biochemical changes that occur in prawns across large numbers of families. Cheryl is based with other members of the CSIRO Aquaculture program at the Agricultural and Food laboratories at Queensland Bioscience Precinct, St Lucia, Queensland.

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Peter Thomson

Associate Professor Thomson has expertise in Biometry at The University of Sydney, and has extensive experience in the development and application of statistical methods to address quantitative genetics problems.  He will be contributing to the development of methods for genomic selection, and also modelling of complex traits.

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Ron White

Professor White is a physicist who brings over a decade of experience in the application of near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy analysis within the primary industries sector.  His expertise has been in the development of optical configurations, analysis and interpretation of NIR spectral data.  Ron leads JCU’s involvement in the Rapid Assessment Unit – a collaborative joint venture between JCU and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) focussed on delivery of rapid, non-invasive technologies in application to quality and safety attributes for horticultural, agricultural, fisheries and forestry products.

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Sarah Berry

Sarah is a PhD student within the ARC Research Hub for Advanced Prawn Breeding, based at Bribie Island Research Centre (BIRC). Having completed her BSc and Honours degrees in Zoology at The University of Queensland, in 2015 Sarah joined the Research Hub as a Research Assistant, based at Seafarms, Flying Fish Point in Far North Queensland. Sarah's thesis will be looking at the physiological response to environmental stressors in the Black Tiger prawn. In addition, candidate gene and/or RNAseq analyses will be undertaken to identify whether common response pathways are activated by differing environmental stressors.

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Jarrod Guppy

Jarrod is a PhD student within the ARC Research Hub for Advanced Prawn Breeding. He completed his BSc Adv and Honours degree in Aquaculture at James Cook University. Jarrod's thesis will aim to develop dense genomic resources required to reveal the genetic architecture of complex traits for the Black Tiger prawn. He will utilise vast parentage, genotype and phenotype data sets to computationally identify genes that play significant role in commercially desirable traits. Jarrod's research will aid the construction of the first Black Tiger prawn genome and inform the use of genomic selection to drive advanced prawn breeding.

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Sandra Infante Villamil

Sandra completed her BSc degree in Marine Biology at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University and MSc in Marine Biology and Ecology at James Cook University. In 2016 Sandra joined the ARC Research Hub for Advanced Prawn Breeding to investigate relationships between bacterial communities in black tiger prawn intestines, prawn health and pond productivity.

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Shaymaviswanathan Karnaneedi

Shayma is an Honours student within the Molecular Allergy Research Lab (MARL), in the department of Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) at James Cook University. He completed his Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree majoring in Genetics and Genomics within the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences. Shayma's thesis aims to identify and characterise known and unidentified prawn allergens using bioinformatics and molecular methods. This involves assembling and analysing the transcriptome of five different prawn species followed by allerginicity evaluation and cross-reactivity studies at a molecular level. Shayma's research is incorporated within the ARC Research Hub for Advanced Prawn Breeding.

Nima Khalilisamani

Nima Khalilisamani

Nima is a PhD student at the University of Sydney, based at Camden Campus. He completed his MSc degrees in aquaculture breeding and genetics at the Universiti Putra Malaysia, where he worked on Phylogenetics and population genetics of Eel Catfish (Plotosus canius)

from Malaysian coastal waters. Nima's thesis will be on exploration of genotype by environment interactions under commercial scenarios on performance of black tiger prawn genotypes. Molecular pedigree data would be generated to measure and analyze the commercially favorable traits concerning genomic selection.

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Tansyn Noble

Tansyn is a PhD student within the ARC Research Hub for Advanced Prawn Breeding, based at Bribie Island Research Centre (BIRC). She completed her BSc and Honours degrees in Aquaculture at James Cook University in Townsville. Tansyn's thesis will be aiming to uncover the genetic potential of Black Tiger prawns for selective breeding. This will involve optimising and validating challenge testing systems to enable accurate trait measurement. She will estimate the heritability for traits of interest and gain understanding on the genotype-environment interactions of some of these traits. Tansyn's research will provide essential knowledge for the ongoing selective breeding of Black Tiger prawns in Australia.

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Nga Vu

Nga is a PhD student within the ARC Research Hub for Advanced Prawn Breeding. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Aquaculture at Nha Trang University, Vietnam and Master of Science in Aquaculture at James Cook University. Her thesis examines the population genomic structure of black tiger shrimp within the Indo-Pacific, with a particular focus on Australian populations. Using thousands of genome-wide SNP her thesis will resolve fine-scale population structure and search for evidence of adaptive sweeps evident in the genome. Based on genetic diversity assayed, she will also model how well genomic selection prediction can be translated to various genetic populations of black tiger shrimp.

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