Meet the team

Mark Waters (group leader)

After obtaining his PhD from the University of Nottingham, Mark took up a postdoc stint with Jane Langdale at the University of Oxford. In 2010 he migrated to Western Australia to work with Steve Smith on mode of action of karrikins.

In 2016 he took up an ARC Future Fellowship in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UWA.

Kelly Sun (PhD student)

Kelly completed a BSc (Advanced Science Programme) in Chemistry and Genetics at UWA. In 2012 she gained First Class Honours in Genetics, working with Steve Smith, Mark Waters and Gavin Flematti on karrkin perception in non-model species. In 2013 she was awarded an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship to pursue a PhD.

As of 2015 she moved sideways to join Prof Ian Small‘s lab, and is currently co-supervised by Mark.

Nithya Palanivelu (PhD student)

Nithya​ ​gained her BSc in Chemistry & Biological Chemistry (with a semester of Industrial Internship) from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore in 2012. ​She then obtained a MSc in Analytical Chemistry (2013) and completed a Higher Degree by Research – Preliminary (2014), both at UWA.
In October 2015 she commenced her PhD, jointly supervised by Dr Gavin Flematti and Dr Mark Waters​, and supported by the SIRF and UPA scholarships offered by UWA.

Kim Melville

Kim is a current UWA undergraduate studying Biochemistry, and joined the lab after hearing Mark’s inspirational lectures in Genetics in 2016. He’s working on protein purification and ligand-binding assays.

Lara Oppermann

Lara is also an undergraduate at UWA, studying Genetics and Biochemistry. She joined the lab in 2016, working on karrikin signalling in Brachypodium.

Jiaren (Hugh) Yao

Hugh comes from China to study for his Masters, and joined the lab in 2017.


Want to be the next recruit? Opportunities to join the lab are currently available.



Within Australia

Dr Gavin Flematti, UWA: analytical and organic chemistry

Prof Christine Beveridge, UQplant physiology and development

Prof Steve Smith, UTas: plant biochemistry and karrikin biology