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1995 …2023

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Personal profile

Biography

Michelle Power (She/Her) is a Professor in the School of Natural Sciences. Her research career began a parasitologist and has now broadened to consider co-infection and disease ecology within Australian ecosystems.

Michelle is particularly interested in reverse zoonoses or the transmission of disease agents from humans to wildlife species. An interest that has seen emphasis on studies examining the dissemination of antimicrobial resistant bacteria to wildlife species and subsequent impacts for wildlife health.

Michelle studies a suite of pathogens with an emphasis on gut parasites (Cryptosporidium and Giardia) and bacteria, and the interactions of these agents with diverse hosts (flying foxes, possums, koalas, Tasmanian devils, penguins, Australian sea lions and people). Michelle is particularly interested in parasite epidemiology and zoonotic risks. 

The research outcomes from Michelle's group are significant for human health and wildlife health and the growing global issue of emerging infectious diseases. Michelle also uses innovative ways to increase public awareness on issues of AMR. The use of Citizen Science through the Scoop a Poop project has both engaged citizens through knowledge and active participation in the project. 

Research interests

Host parasite interactions

The study of parasites and their hosts has traditionally focussed on single host-single parasite models. However, recent information shows that interactions between endemic organisms (microbiota) and co-infecting agents influence infection outcomes. Within this framework we are examining parasite co-infections within the enteric system and relationships between co-infecting agents and the microbiota of the host. My research extends to aspects of co-evolution, parasite adaptation, co-infection, and diversity, taxonomy and epidemiology of a range of parasites including CryptosporidiumEimeria and Giardia

Antibiotic resistance ecology 

The emergence of antimicrobial resistance is a major global health issue. Resistance is no longer only a human health issue with resistant bacteria having now spread to our wildlife. Michelle and her team are examining the spread of resistant bacteria to key wildlife species with the aim of understanding health impacts to wildlife, their role in further spread and persistence of resistant bacteria in the environment, and identification of wildlife indicators to monitor spread of resistant bacteria. This work feeds into the One Health framework for managing and mitigating the on-going issue of antimicrobial resistance.

Teaching and Leadership

Michelle's philosophy of teaching focusses on real world issues to engage students in the learning process and places them at the centre of learning through flipped classroom activities. Michelle has taught across a breadth of programs at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Her professional ethos centres on advancing excellence through activities and actions that integrate Research, Learning and Teaching and Outreach –the core of Macquarie University.

The integration of Research, Learning and Teaching, and Outreach is evident through the Scoop a Poop Citizen Science project (scoopapoop.org.au). Scoop a Poop enables citizen scientists to contribute to the global fight against antibiotic resistance by collecting possum poop from the backyards and the samples are initially tested for antibiotic resistance genes by undergraduate students. 

Awards

Vice Chancellors Learning and Teaching award (ECR) | 2012

FSE Learning and Teaching award for integrating research into teaching | 2017

FSE Learning and Teaching award Academic Excellence | 2020

FSE Award for Leadership in Inclusion (Equity and Diversity) | 2022

Community engagement

Media

‘We can’t blame animals’ The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/19/we-cant-blame-animals-human-pathogens-are-making-their-way-into-vulnerable-wildlife

The Lighthouse https://lighthouse.mq.edu.au/article/november-2020/new-front-opens-in-australias-fight-to-save-the-koalas

https://theconversation.com/humans-are-polluting-the-environment-with-antibiotic-resistant-bacteria-and-im-finding-them-everywhere-150744

Radio

ABC Sydney Drive, Self-Improvement Wednesday, What are zoonoses? https://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/self-improvement-wednesday/michelle-power/12767616

ABC Nightlife Emerging infectious disease panel discussion https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nightlife/zoonotic-diseases-and-pandemics/12497566

https://www.findinggeniuspodcast.com/podcasts/in-forward-and-reverse-understanding-zoonosis-michelle-power-department-of-biological-sciences-at-macquarie-university-in-sydney-australia/

ABC Radio Canberra – Scoop a Poop National Science Week event chat | Aug 15, 2020

ABC Radio Darwin | November 26, 2020

Monday Drive, Eastside FM | December 7, 2020

Education/Academic qualification

Biological Sciences, PhD, Epidemiology of Cryptosporidium in Eastern grey kangaroos, Macquarie University

Award Date: 1 Oct 2003

Zoology, Bachelor of Science, Macquarie University

Award Date: 20 May 1997

External positions

Co-chair Queers in Science NSW

1 Jan 2023 → …

Flying fox advisory committee

6 Dec 2020 → …

Australian Wildlife Health Institute organising committee

Jul 20201 May 2023

Wild and Comparative Immunology Consortium

Dec 2019 → …

Birds and Marine Mammals Antarctic Wildlife Health Group , Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research SCAR

2016 → …

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