Researcher

Professor Mark Tanaka

Field of Research (FoR)

Biography

I am a mathematical and computational biologist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences (BABS). At UNSW I am also a member of the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre (E&ERC). I received my BSc(Hons) in genetics from the University of Sydney and my PhD in mathematical biology from Stanford University. My postdoctoral work at Emory University was in the area of microbial evolution.

A...view more

I am a mathematical and computational biologist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences (BABS). At UNSW I am also a member of the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre (E&ERC). I received my BSc(Hons) in genetics from the University of Sydney and my PhD in mathematical biology from Stanford University. My postdoctoral work at Emory University was in the area of microbial evolution.

A major component of my research programme concerns understanding how microbes including pathogens evolve. My research has considered topics such as mutation rates in pathogens and how they evolve; how antimicrobial resistance arises and the consequences of the fitness cost of resistance; the life-cycle of viruses; features of bacterial genomes such as mobile genes and gene clusters; and how microbes alter their environments and thus their own evolutionary trajectory. Another component of my research concerns analysis of genetic data from pathogen isolates collected in molecular epidemiology studies. My research group develops mathematical models which we use to make inferences from genetic and genomic data. I am also interested in human cultural evolution and modelling the interaction between behaviour and disease/health.

For more information about us please visit our lab website.

Professional service roles and affiliations

  • PLoS Computational Biology, Associate Editor
  • Theoretical Population Biology, Associate Editor
  • Genetics Society of AustralAsia, Society for Mathematical Biology, Member
  • Acting Head of School, BABS, 2018-2019
  • Deputy Head of School (Research Director), BABS, 2016-2018

Awards and Achievements

  • Future Fellowship (Australian Research Council) 2014-2018
  • Moran Medal, Australian Academy of Science (jointly with S. A. Sisson) 2011
  • QEII Fellowship (Australian Research Council) 2009-2013
  • Samuel Karlin Prize for PhD thesis, Stanford University
  • Charles Gilbert Heydon Scholarship, University of Sydney
  • Spencer Smith-White Prize, University of Sydney
  • University Medal, University of Sydney

My Grants

Selected research grants

  • National Health & Medical Research Council Project Grant 2018-2020, Reducing pertussis burden by optimising molecular epidemiological surveillance of epidemic Bordetella pertussis in Australia. CIs: R. Lan, V. Sintchenko, F. Mooi, M. Tanaka
  • Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2017-2019, New models linking microbial natural history and molecular evolution. CIs: M. Tanaka and R. Lan
  • National Health & Medical Research Council Project Grant 2017-2019, Optimising temporal genomic surveillance of Salmonella infections in Australia. CIs: R. Lan, V. Sintchenko, M. Tanaka, S. Octavia
  • National Health & Medical Research Council Project Grant 2017-2019, Assessing acellular pertussis vaccine effectiveness: integrating transmission models, genetics and cohort data to inform policy. CIs: J. Wood, M. Tanaka, R. Lan, P. McIntyre, H. Gidding, P. Campbell
  • Australian Research Council Linkage Project 2016-2018, Elucidating the genetic basis of newly evolved metabolic functions in yeast. CIs: R. Edwards, M. Wilkins, M. Tanaka, P. Attfield, P. Bell
  • Australian Research Council Future Fellowship 2014-2018, How microbes build their environments through evolutionary feedback. CI: M. Tanaka
  • National Health & Medical Research Council  Project Grant 2013-2015, Molecular epidemiology and high resolution surveillance of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium in Australia. CIs: R. Lan, V. Sintchenko, M. Tanaka, S. Octavia
  • Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2011-2013, Understanding mutation and genetic reassortment in viruses: New mathematical models of viral dynamics and evolution. CIs: M. Tanaka, P. White, K. Koelle, R. Regoes
  • Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2009--2013, Mathematical models and bioinformatic analyses of bacterial genome evolution. CIs: M. Tanaka, A. Francis and R. Lan
  • Australian Academy of Science, Scientific Visits to Europe 2006. CI: M. Tanaka
  • Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2005-2007, Evolutionary models and bioinformatic analyses of genetic variation in pathogens. CIs: M. Tanaka and A. Francis.

My Research Supervision


Areas of supervision

Mathematical and computational modelling in population and evolutionary biology. For more information see our lab website.


Currently supervising

Sara Loo (postdoctoral research associate), Xiyan Xiyong (PhD candidate), Anna Ong (Hons)

Winton Wu (PhD; joint supervisor: Jai Tree), Eden Zhang (PhD; joint supervisor: Belinda Ferrari).


My Teaching

  • Coordinator of Microbial Genetics (BABS3021/MICR3621)
  • Lecturer: Genes, Genomes and Evolution (BABS3291), Genetics (BABS2204/2264), Microbiology (MICR2011), Applied Biomolecular Sciences (BABS1202) and other courses.
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Location

Room: 2111 Biological Sciences E26


Map reference (Google map)

Contact

(+61 2) 9385 2038
(+61 2) 9385 1483

Publications

by Professor Mark Tanaka

ORCID as entered in ROS