Lab Members

Matt Piper


Dietary restriction (DR or calorie restriction) is an evolutionarily conserved intervention that extends healthy lifespan. I am interested in the nutrients and molecular mechanisms required to elicit this effect – in particular the role of protein. Knowledge of these interactions will aid our understanding of the role of nutrient balance in adult health, appetite and longevity.


Twitter: @mattpiperlab


2016 – present ARC Future Fellow, Monash University
2010 – 2016 Royal Society University Senior Research Fellow, UCL
2002 – 2010 Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UCL
2001 – 2002 Tenure-track researcher, Technical University of Delft, The Netherlands
1997 – 2001 PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, UNSW, Australia
1996 Honours [First Class] Molecular Genetics, UNSW, Australia
1993 – 1995 Bachelor of Science, University of Adelaide, Australia
2015 Australian Research Council Future Fellowship
2012 Wellcome Trust Wellcome Trust People Awards
2012 UCL Crucible Centre Art/science collaboration
2012 AGE UK Art/science collaboration
2012 – 2015 Royal Society URF research grant
2011 – 2016 Royal Society University Research Fellowship
2011 – 2014 BBSRC New Investigator Award
2011 – 2015 UCL Crucible Centre (Medical Research Council) 4y PhD studentship

Amy Dedman


Research Assistant

I hold an honours degree in biotechnology and I’ve worked as a molecular biologist for over ten years, in both academic and private industry research laboratories. I’ve always been fascinated by stem cells and I’m interested in understanding how nutrition can influence stem cell regulation, specifically the regulatory mechanisms between drosophila neuroblast proliferation and amino acids.
Outside the lab I enjoy digital art/graphic design, writing science fiction and other things too nerdy to mention.


2016 – current Research Assistant – Monash University, Australia
2015 – 2016 Research and Development Scientist – MiniFab, Australia
2012 – 2014 Project Manager – The University of Queensland, Australia
2010 – 2012 Laboratory Manager – StemLife, Australia
2007 – 2009 Research Assistant – Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Australia
2004 – 2006 Research Assistant – Queensland Brain Institute, Australia
2002 – 2004 Research Technician – University of Ulm, Germany
2001 Honours, The University of Newcastle, Australia
1998 – 2000 Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology), The University of Newcastle, Australia

Javier Gomez


PhD student

I completed my undergrad studies in Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (including one year abroad in the University of York). Afterwards I did my MRes in The University of Liverpool. I did my undergrad research project on vascular mouse models of accelerated ageing. Keeping in the line of ageing research my MRes project was based on the study of Protein and Gene Co-expression networks of Cellular Senescence. For my PhD, I would like to deepen into network analysis and other system biology analysis of ageing and it’s relationship with diet and fitness in Drosophila melanogaster. I am brand new in Melbourne so in my free time I would love to travel around and go hiking to explore the nature in Australia.


Krithika Balagopal


PhD student

I completed my undergraduate degree in Biotechnology at SASTRA University, India. I was presented with an opportunity to do my final year project in the University of Oxford, where I tried to understand how various autophagy inducers can treat monogenic disease associated with intestinal inflammation. I then pursued a MRes in Clinical Medicine in Holm Uhlig’s lab at the University of Oxford, where I investigated the mechanisms by which defective G6PT metabolism in macrophages potentiate the intestinal inflammation in patients with Crohn’s disease. For my PhD, I would be using various genetic tools to understand how nutrition affects infection and immunity in D.melanogaster. Outside of academic life, I would like to get involved with activism. I also enjoy quiet reading and going to cheesy musicals.


Brooke Zanco


PhD student

I started my undergraduate degree at the University of Queensland, studying Journalism and International Relations. During my degree I became involved in scientific communication and as a result, transferred to a Bachelor of Science at Monash University. I completed both my undergraduate and honours year at Monash University, majoring in Ecology and Conservation Biology. Throughout my honours year I studied the role of nutrition in mediating larval trait responses to temperature in different populations of D. melanogaster. Now, during my PhD I intend to study the effects of sterols and other less examined nutrients on lifespan and reproductive trade-offs in D. melanogaster, and the mechanisms behind such trade-offs. In my spare time I enjoy photography, long walks in the forest and reading.


Carolyn Ma

Carolyn Ma

Masters Student

I studied zoology and animal behaviour for my Bachelors and Masters in Research degree, respectively. I have previously studied the gustatory system of bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) and how they regulate their intake of nutrients. For my M Phil, I am investigating the molecular mechanism that modulate lifespan of Drosophila melanogaster, particularly through the nutrient-sensing pathways, TOR and GCN2 kinase. Outside of M Phil life, I like to travel around and explore new places. I also enjoy seeing live music and having a good jive.


Education and Professional Experience
2016-Present M Phil in Molecular Biology, Monash University, Australia
2015-2016 Research Technician, Newcastle University, UK
2014-2015 Masters of Research (Animal Behaviour), Newcastle University, UK
2010-2014 Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Zoology with Industrial Placement), The University of Manchester, UK


2016-Present Monash Graduate Studentship (MGS)

Monash International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (MIPRS)

Arani Azim


Masters Student

I studied biomedical science for my Bachelors degree at Monash University. For my honours year i specialised in molecular biology at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine looking at toenail clippings as an alternative to compromised bone samples for DNA extraction for human identification purposes. To broaden my qualifications as a geneticist, for my M Phil, I am investigating how a nutrient sensing kinase (involved in metabolism) alters the growth of Drosophila melanogaster with variations in dietary nutrient composition. Outside the lab life, I like to socialise with family and friends, travel and explore new places. I also enjoy watching movies and tv series, cricket and tennis, and love cooking and baking!


Tahlia Fulton


Honours Student

I recently completed my Bachelor of Science at Monash, majoring in both chemistry and genetics. Studying chemistry has provoked a need for understanding how things fundamentally work, and genetics is where my passion lies. I have developed a particular interest in how diet can effect phenotype, and my Honours project is centered around dietary induction of hardening against toxicological stress. Outside of the lab I can be found at the gym, at the snow or curled up with a cat and a cup of coffee.


Josh Johnstone


Undergraduate student

I’m currently undertaking a Bachelor of Science at Monash University, with a major in genetics. I have a particular interest in the mechanisms of ageing and their regulators, one such regulator being nutrition. In the lab, I’m investigating how manipulating individual amino acids affects lifelong health in Drosophila melanogaster. Outside the lab I enjoy surfing and exploring the hiking trails surrounding Melbourne.

Lab Alumni

Helen Rushby – Honours student
Title of Research: Flies, smell and appetite

Rob di Paolo – Honours student
Title of Research: Drosophila microbiota and amino acid supply

Andrea Chan – Honours student
Title of Research: Amino acid deficits and toxicity hardening

Sasha Pollock – Honours student
Title of Research: The role of essential amino acids in lifespan

Iris Bouwmeester – Dutch visiting student
Title of Research: Flies, nutrition and cold stress