Barr Lab

Current Lab Members


Picture of Isa Magnin-Bougma

Area of Study

Isa has a strong interest in medical microbiology and how pathogens manage to survive in challenging conditions. She completed her Bachelor of Science-Honours degree at Monash University under the supervision of Professor Chris Greening and studied the roles of nitrate, hydrogen and carbon monoxide gases for Mycobacteria survival in hypoxic environments...

Isa has now joined the Barr lab as a Research Assistant/Lab Manager. Apart from working and learning all about the dynamics between phages and their hosts, Isa enjoys discovering new and hidden local places around Melbourne, eating out and relaxing with a good book or movie.

Picture of Ruzeen Patwa

I have a master’s degree in biology from New York University, and have worked in several cancer biology labs identifying genes that mediate cancer progression. In Barr lab, I provide technical support to the lab members, as well as daily management of the lab.

Apart from lab work, I enjoy watching movies, spending time with my family, and catching up with friends over a cup of coffee.


I am a medical microbiologist with a Master’s degree from the Tribhuvan University, Nepal. After which, I worked as a lecturer in Nepalese Universities for five years. I completed my doctoral study at the University of New South Wales, Sydney in 2019 which focused on mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in ocular isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In the Barr Lab, I work on therapeutic uses of bacteriophages for multi-drug resistant bacteria, with a current focus on Enterobacter infections.

Outside of the lab, I enjoy landscape photography.  

Graduate Students

Picture of Sofia Dahlman
Graduate Student
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I am a Swedish PhD student with a master’s degree in Biomedical Science from Leiden University, The Netherlands.

In the Barr Lab, my work will be directed at decoding the human gut phageome and its impact on health and disease. To this end I will identify and characterise prophages from a large number of clinical isolates. My project will use extensive bioinformatic and high throughput sequencing techniques as well as microbiology approaches.

Outside the lab, I enjoy traveling and experiencing new places, hiking, gardening, listening to audio books and eating delicious foods.

Picture of Laura Avellaneda Franco
Graduate Student
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I am a Colombian Ph.D. student. Previously, I worked on characterizing the healthy human gut virome at Alejandro Reyes Lab in Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia. In the Barr Lab, I am deciphering the potential capacity of phages to modulate the gut bacterial population. To accomplish this, I am using bioinformatics and molecular techniques.

Outside the lab, I enjoy meeting people, reading novels, and traveling.

Picture of Robert Garcia
Graduate Student

I am a Joint PhD student from the Monash-Warwick Alliance working on the interface between
synthetic biology and bacteriophages.

I got started with bioprocess engineering, bioelectrochemistry and metabolic pathways but soon
I switched to the molecular world of phages! In the Barr Lab, I want to learn about phage

About me, I am all about science and technology. But outside the lab I like to travel, to learn
about languages and the cultural heritage of the world. My hobbies are martial arts, non-fiction,
guitar and nature itself.

Follow me on Twitter @raga_rob

Picture of Ella Gillis Abram
Graduate Student
View CV

Area of Study

I arrived at the Barr lab after completing my Master's in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the Weizmann Institute of Science and working for two years as a researcher in Israeli biotech companies.

My PhD project at the Barr lab focuses on studying the defence mechanisms of Acinetobacter baumannii against bacteriophages using a combination of bioinformatics and wet lab techniques. I aim to provide new insights into the interactions between phages and their host, with a particular focus on pathogenic strains that have clinical relevance.

Outside the lab, I like hiking in nature, doing sports and spending time with my family and friends.

Picture of Leo Kan
Graduate Student

Area of Study

My research primarily focuses on unraveling the connection between capsular polysaccharide and phage predation in Acinetobacter baumannii, aiming to exploit this relationship for the advancement of phage therapy. 

I am particularly fascinated by the emerging rational design approach in the field of phage therapy, while maintaining a broader range of interests that encompass biotechnology development, synthetic biology, phage engineering, phage evolution, antimicrobial resistance, immunology, animal modeling, and in vivo imaging.

In my leisure time, I love going on phage-hunting expeditions and isolating these cool little alien spacecraft. Gotta Catch 'Em All!

Twitter: @LeoLKan

Picture of Natasha Smith
Graduate Student

Area of Study

I am a PhD student with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science (Hons) from Deakin University. I previously worked as a Medical Scientist and Technician across multiple pathology labs including at Monash Medical Centre.

My work in the Barr Lab is focused on isolating and characterising novel bacteriophages against 14 clinical multi-drug resistant Escherichia coli isolates that cause urinary tract infections. I will utilise phage training to improve the ability of phages in my collection to kill these bacteria.

Beyond the lab, my hobbies include training in martial arts, playing board and video games, and spending quality time with friends and family.

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Monash University
School of Biological Sciences
Senior Zoology
Clayton VIC 3168

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