Our team members

The fine members of our
scientific steering committee .


Prof Brajesh K Singh

President and Scientific Chair
Internationally recognised expert in the environmental microbiology.

Professor Brajesh Singh is an internationally recognised expert in the environmental microbiology, farm productivity and ecosystem functions.

His research interests encompass functional ecology, climate change and environmental biotechnology with particular focus on the role of microbes in ecosystem function and harnessing this knowledge for farm productivity and environmental sustainability.

He is currently Director of the Global Centre for Land-Based Innovation at Western Sydney University.


Dr Eleonora Egidi

Executive Director
Soil microbial ecologist.

Dr Eleonora Egidi is a soil microbial ecologist, her research focuses on investigating microbial biogeography, plant-soil-microbe interactions, and the mechanism underpinning microbial responses to environmental stressors.

She has led a number of initiatives to promote microbial ecology studies in Australia and China, organised and chaired several microbial ecology symposia at society conferences, and engaged with industry partners.

Eleonora is also committed to supporting and mentoring women is science, and has actively participated in the Athena Swan program during her appointments at both Western Sydney University and La Trobe University.

Dr Birgit Mitter

Microbial ecologist.

Dr Birgit Mitter (Austrian Institute of Technology) is a microbial ecologist with focus on bacterial endophytes. She has studied endophytic communities in a variety of plants including crops, such as tomato, potato, rice, corn and wheat but also in wild flowers and tropical trees.

In her research she is mainly interested in the relationship between microbial community functioning and plant development and health, and in translating microbial community understanding into applications for a more sustainable agriculture.

Contact: Birgit.Mitter@ait.ac.at

Dr Raul Ochoa-Hueso

Microbial ecologist.

Dr. Raul Ochoa-Hueso is an ecosystem ecologist with extensive experience investigating the consequences of human impacts on biogeochemical processes, biodiversity, and the assembly of communities in terrestrial ecosystems.

Raúl is currently a Ramón y Cajal researcher at the University of Cádiz, Spain, where he leads the “Ecosystem Ecology Laboratory” of the Viticulture and Agri-Food Research Institute (IVAGRO).
He is the main coordinator of two global sampling networks, one in vineyards (“Grapevine Microbiome Survey”) and one in grasslands (“SpatialNet”), around the world.

Contact: rochoahueso@gmail.com

Pablo García-Palacios

Institute of Agricultural Sciences, CSIC
Ramón y Cajal researcher

Dr Pablo García-Palacios leads the Ecosystem Ecology & Agroecology Lab at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences-CSIC (Madrid, Spain). He is an ecosystem ecologist focusing on understanding the role of plants and soil organisms as drivers of soil carbon and nitrogen cycling in a context of climate change and human population growth.

Pablo coordinates MICROWILD, a global consortium associated with the Global Crop Microbiome Initiative aiming to investigate how plant domestication has shaped the plant microbiome of major crops for agriculture.

Contact: pablo.garcia.pala@gmail.com

Dr Florian Walder

Dr. Florian Walder is an agroecologist, his research focuses on the interaction of crops, microbes and soil under the influence of agricultural management.

He has coordinated several on-farm networks to investigate how the farming systems and specific management practices promote or compromise crop and soil microbiome structure and functioning. Florian is interested in understanding how microbial processes can be stimulated by agricultural management to support productivity and develop sustainable agro-ecosystems.

Contact: florian.walder@agroscope.admin.ch

Dr Shengjing Shi

Dr Shi is a soil microbial ecologist with the main research focus on soil-plant-microbe interaction and soil biodiversity, microbial functional role in promoting plant growth and soil nutrient cycling, and how climate change affects plant-microbe interaction.

Shengjing is a senior scientist in AgResearch Ltd., New Zealand and leading a number of projects ranging from fundamental science to applied research aiming at developing microbial inoculants to enhance plant growth via increase nutrient use efficacy and/or disease protection.

Shengjing has received National Early Career Research Award from Science New Zealand in 2019.

Contact: Shengjing.Shi@agresearch.co.nz

Dr Sally Hilton

Dr Sally Hilton is a Research Fellow at the University of Warwick and has a strong background in molecular biology, particularly molecular microbiology. Her research interests focus on crop improvement via understanding plant-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions. Her research focuses on soil, rhizosphere and plant microbiomes using sequencing technologies and multivariate analyses.

Contact: s.hilton.1@warwick.ac.uk

Dr Juntao Wang (Bioinformatics coordinator)

Dr Juntao Wang is a soil microbial ecologist. His research interests include microbial ecological modelling, microbial diversity and soil functioning relationship, and developing microbial tools to improve agricultural production. Juntao will lead a team of bioinformaticians using metagenomic based approaches to disentangle the interactions between microbiome and crops.

Contact: juntao.wang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Didier Lesueur/ Laetitia Herrmann (pro-rata)

CIAT Asia – International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
Agricultural Genetics Institute, Pham Van Dong, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Contact: D.Lesueur@CGIAR.ORG / L.Herrmann@cgiar.org