P lab
Dr Wayne Patrick and Dr Monica Gerth
Principal Investigators

Wayne has a BSc (Hons) degree from the University of Otago and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He spent 4 years as a post-doc at Emory University, which was enough time to become a (long-suffering) fan of the Hawks and the Falcons. He moved home to New Zealand in 2007, to begin his academic career at Massey University's Albany campus. In late 2012, the allure of the Southern Alps, Emerson's beer and Highlanders rugby drew him back to Otago.

Profile on the Department of Biochemistry website.



Monica has a BSc in Chemistry from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and a PhD in Biomolecular Chemistry from Emory University. In 2008 she was awarded a FRST Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Prof. Paul Rainey at the Massey University’s Albany (Auckland) Campus. After this brief foray into genetics, she was lured south in 2012 by promises of spacious laboratories, regular departmental happy hours, and a complete lack of mosquitoes.

Profile on the Department of Biochemistry website.


Dr Jodi Brewster
Postdoctoral Fellow with Wayne



Originally from Christchurch, Jodi moved to Otago to study biochemistry in 2006. Captivated by biochemistry and Dunedin’s charm she stayed on to complete an Honours degree and a PhD, studying carotenoid-binding proteins in sea urchins. Jodi has now joined the lab as a post-doc, engineering ancient forms of bacterial enzymes to see how they would have stacked up to their modern counterparts. In her spare time enjoys relaxing with yoga, swimming and cooking.


Dr Scott Lawrence
Postdoctoral Fellow with Monica


Scott is originally from Wellington, where he did his BSc, MSc and PhD at Victoria University. His Masters research involved molecular characterisation of bacterial symbionts in echinoderms. For his PhD, he studied viruses associated with corals and their algal symbionts, and found evidence that viruses may play a role in several common coral diseases.

Scott is currently working as a Research Assistant with Monica, looking at chemotaxis of the avocado pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi.

In his spare time he enjoys DIYing around the house, exploring Dunedin with his dogs and playing ice hockey.

Dr Susie Warring
Research Technician with Monica


Susie was born and raised in Wellington, but ended up in the South Island for her final two years of high school. After some indecision (and chef training) she studied a BSc in Chemistry at Otago. After finishing in 2005, she secluded herself in Milford Sound working on the cruise ships, before gaining employment at Fisher & Paykel in product development. However, the allure of research brought her back to undertake her 4th year in Chemistry. Susie eventually accepted her fate of a life in research and began her Chemistry PhD at Otago in 2011, which was completed in 2016. In it, she looked at the behaviour of non-ionic surfactants at air/solution and solid/solution interfaces using a variety of techniques.

After submitting her thesis, Susie joined the dark side and began work for Monica looking at inhibition of bacterial biofilm formation using enzymatic and small molecule approaches. In her spare time she likes trying to climb things, tramping, experiencing the electic Dunedin music scene and drinking delicious beers with friends (not necessarily all at the same time).

Dr Tifany Oulavallickal
Research Technician with Wayne


Tifany was born and raised in Switzerland for 10 years, before moving to India. After school, intrigued by the world of science, she did her BTech in Biotechnology. She then moved to New Zealand to do her Masters in Engineering, in Materials and Processing at the University of Waikato. Next, she stayed on to do a PhD in Biochemistry. Her PhD project focussed on studying the evolution of AroA and MurA enzymes from Bacillus using the ancestral sequence reconstruction technique. She moved down to Dunedin to work as an ARF and her work involves engineering higher efficiency ligases.

In her free time, Tifany enjoys playing all racket sports, hanging out with friends, playing games and watching TV shows. She loves music and has made it her mission to learn how to play guitar. And she is crazy about pandas.

Mike Fairhurst
Research Technician with Monica


Born and raised in rural New Zealand, Mike decided to venture to the big city of Dunedin to complete a BSc and MSc in Biochemistry at the University of Otago. His Masters research focused on the roles of ubiquitylation in inflammatory signalling. Making the big move downstairs, he is now working as a Research Assistant with both Monica and Wayne, looking to characterise the chemoreceptors of Psa and how E. coli develops resistance to aminoglycoside antibiotics.

Outside of work, he spends his time with his friends, playing sport, and cycling around the Dunedin area.

James Chalmers
Research Technician with Wayne


Intrigued by the opportunity to resurrect billion-year-old enzymes, James joined the E3 Lab for a summer studentship and a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry. After some time away from research the allure of another project investigating the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria brought him back as research technician.

In his spare time, James likes to watch films, listen to podcasts and play music.

Shereen Asha Murugayah
PhD student with Monica



Shereen was born and grew up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She opted for the fickle weather of Dunedin and obtained a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Otago. Shereen has done the rounds in the Department, completing a summer studentship with Dr. Alan Carne before undertaking her Honours project with Dr. Sigurd Wilbanks and Dr. Monica Gerth. She has now settled into the E3 lab for her PhD. Her project with Monica involves engineering quorum quenching enzymes to control bacterial virulence and biofilm formation. In her free time, Shereen reads, swims or listens to music.


Gabriel Rawcliffe
PhD student with Wayne



Gabriel spent his formative years in sunny Napier and moved to Otago after completing an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and microbiology at Massey University. After completing an Honours year using single molecule techniques to investigate chaperones, he moved into the world of enzyme evolution and engineering to undertake a PhD investigating the evolutionary origins of protein domains. Gabe splits his time between biochemistry, hockey, rock climbing, horse riding, and barn building, so needless to say, he is a busy man.


Tom Wiggins
PhD student with Monica



Tom grew up in Hawke’s Bay prior to moving to Dunedin for his tertiary education. Having completed his BSc in biochemistry, he decided to get a taste of postgraduate research by doing a summer studentship. It was during this summer that he became interested in quorum sensing enzymes and their involvement in the pathogenesis of many bacteria. In 2014 he continued research into this area, completing his Honours project with Dr. Monica Gerth. In his free time, Tom enjoys playing many sports, such as squash and canoe polo.


Maximilian Ehrhardt
PhD student with Monica



Born and raised in Germany, Maximilian dedicated his undergraduate and Masters to research on cytochromes P450, especially their use in biotechnological whole-cell systems. After he and two of his fellow students founded an iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machine) team at the University of Saarland and participated successfully in the iGEM competition, his interest in synthetic biology awakened. Therefore he searched for a PhD position in a prospering synthethic biology group and found the E3 Lab right on the beautiful coast line of New Zealand.

In his project with Monica he is elucidating the structures of Psa chemoreceptors and evolving them to new, favourable ligand binding capabilities.

In Maximilian's spare time he loves to spend time with his friends (and girlfriend), to cook, to play (video/board/sport) games and to admire New Zealand's beauty (places/animals/plants).


Sean Boult
MSc student with Monica



In 2012, Sean left the winterless North (Shore) for the University of Otago – unstifled by the logistics of wearing jandals in the snow. Here, he survived 4 hours in dentistry before dropping out to pursue a BSc in biochemistry. Sean’s unique skill set currently involves retrieving 1L bottles from the top shelf for his lab mates. However, he hopes to expand this over the course of his MSc with Dr. Monica Gerth, investigating bacterial chemotaxis in Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae.

Outside of the lab Sean enjoys banging his head on low hanging air vents and non-regulation door frames; rugby and rowing are good too.


Lottie Armstrong
MSc student with Monica



Lottie grew up in Chester in the North West of the UK. She moved to Auckland at the age of 17 but quickly left to go study at the University of Otago. Unsure of what she still wanted to do she entered University life with an open mind and soon became passionate about Biochemistry. Lottie is undertaking an MSc in the E3 Lab looking into the chemotaxis of Phytophthora agathidicida, the microorganism that causes kauri dieback disease.

In her spare time Lottie enjoys taking advantage of Dunedin's spectacular location by going tramping, mountaineering, rock climbing and running.


Alex Kane
MSc student with Wayne



Alex grew up in Wellington, NZ. He did not do any science at school until Year 13, when he picked up chemistry and physics and then decided to try for Med in 2014. As he went through first year he found an interest in biochemistry and continued with this to finish a BSc. Now he is planning to obtain his Masters engineering an enzyme for biopolymer synthesis.

Alex loves rugby and underwater hockey, and enjoys the outdoors. He also used to play bagpipes in his school’s pipe band and was in the a cappella group as well.


Brandon Wright
Summer student with Wayne



Brandon is originally from rural Waikato, and has just completed a BSc in Genetics at Otago. He is currently working in the lab as a summer student to assemble biosensors for the food industry.

In his free time Brandon enjoys hiking, video games and cooking.


Stephanie Cho
Summer student with Wayne



Stephanie was born and raised in Wellington before her venture down to the University of Otago, completing a BSc in Genetics. Her main interest is in the application of science and technology in the medical field. She is currently carrying out a summer studentship looking at the evolution of antibiotic resistance and collateral hypersensitivity profiling in given bacterial strains.

In her free time, Stephanie enjoys badminton, baking, piano and guitar.


Ruth Platt
Summer student with Monica



Ruth was born in Melbourne and grew up in Christchurch. She has recently completed a degree in Biochemistry at Otago and is currently working in the E3 lab as a summer student, investigating the chemotaxis method by which Phytophthora find new hosts.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with friends, reading and finding good places to eat.


Past Members
Alumni and Alumnae

The last known whereabouts of our awesome, multi-talented alumnae and alumni...

  • Dr. Danni Maddock, PhD student (2013-2017): postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Ant Poole at the University of Auckland.
  • Dr. Tom Finn, postdoctoral fellow (2016-2017): postdoctoral fellow with A/Prof. Rebekah DeVinney at the University of Calgary.
  • Dr. Miguel Ramirez, postdoctoral fellow (2014-2016): postdoctoral fellow with A/Prof. Kylie Vincent at the University of Oxford.
  • James McKellar, lab manager (2013-2016): on a bicycle, somewhere between Singapore and Amsterdam.
  • Kelsi Hall, BSc (Hons) student (2015): PhD student with A/Prof. Dave Ackerley in Wellington (but co-supervised by Wayne!).
  • Alison McGhie, BSc (Hons) student (2015): MSc student with Prof. Julian Eaton-Rye (Department of Biochemistry, U. Otago).
  • Jordan Minnell, MSc student (2013-2015): PhD student with Dr. Goedele Maertens at Imperial College London.
  • Dr. Matilda Newton, PhD student (2011-2015): postdoctoral fellow with A/Prof. Burckhard Seelig at the University of Minnesota.
  • Cecilia Chambers, BSc (Hons) student and lab technician (2014-15): research technician at UCB Celltech, UK.
  • Elizabeth Prentice, lab technician (2014-2015): secondary school teacher in Christchurch.
  • Chony King, summer student (2014-2015): research technician with the Wellington Epilepsy Research Group.
  • Dr. Matteo Ferla, PhD student (2010-2014): postdoctoral fellow with A/Prof. Mark Howarth at the University of Oxford.
  • Dr. Mack Saraswat, PhD student (2009-2014): co-founder and CEO of Lifeonics Inc.
  • Hannah Burden, BSc (Hons) student (2013): Junior Ideas Ninja at Salt & Pepper PR Ltd, Auckland.
  • Dr. Paulina Hanson-Manful, PhD student (2009-2013): postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Nikki Moreland at the University of Auckland.
  • Laura Nigon, lab manager (2010-2012): research technician at the University of Auckland.
  • Natasha Comer (née le Roux), BSc (Hons) student (2012): laboratory technician at Massey University (Albany).
  • Fiona Given, BSc (Hons) student (2012): PhD student with Prof. Emily Parker at the University of Canterbury.
  • Dr. Valerie Soo, PhD student (2008-12): postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Tobias Warnecke at Imperial College London.
  • Melanie McCamish, undergraduate researcher (2012): account manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific.
  • Ilana La Grange (née Gerber), lab technician (2009-11): science teacher at Green Bay High School (Waitakere, not Wisconsin).
  • Dr. Susan Morton, lab technician (2009-10): postdoctoral fellow at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.
  • Dr. Robbie Wilson, BSc (Hons) student (2009): postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany.
  • Hayden Paul, summer student (2009-10): brand manager at Bayer.
  • Ankita Patel, summer student (2009-10): forensic technologist at Cellmark Forensics, TX, USA.
  • Dr. Ralph Grand, summer student (2008-09): postdoctoral fellow at the Friedrich Miescher Institute, Switzerland.