We are a passionate team of science and business professionals. From the field to the lab to the office, our team brings a diverse skill set to help our clients better measure what they need to manage when it comes to biodiversity. What unites us is the opportunity to significantly improve conservation, pest management and biosecurity efforts through eDNA technology. We are excited by and dedicated to the development and application of eDNA within these areas and beyond!
Managing Director BA Business, Entrepreneurship
Having grown up amongst both city and country life, Helen fell in love with the natural world and made it her mission to combine this passion with her business expertise. As Managing Director of EnviroDNA Helen does just that, with a Lean Start Up mindset and innovation tools always at the ready.
Helen brings to EnviroDNA the triple bottom line ideology of finding ways to positively impact environments, people and the bottom line. She has spent the last 10 years pursuing this through roles of operation, facilitation and management. Helen's experience with EnviroDNA’s sister company, cesar, built her foundation for applying business and science for conservation purposes. Most recently her experience with Australia’s leading innovation consultancy, Inventium, led her to help hundreds of people and organisations improve through creativity and innovation.
Helen's natural inclination towards people is an important aspect she brings to EnviroDNA. From building a great place to work through to ensuring the technology led nature of EnviroDNA is balanced with a customer focus, people are a key part of her day to day. Other key parts include bike commuting, veggie patch hanging and chocolate connoisseuring!
Dr Andrew Weeks
Director BA Science (Honours), PhD Ecological Genetics
Andrew’s passion is genetics. He is fascinated by the many ways different creatures adapt to their environments, and how nature versus nurture contributes to the process. He can talk about it for hours.
His interest began when studying insects in agricultural environments, but it wasn’t long before Andrew’s focus shifted to the conservation field and he has since spent the last 15 years working on some of Australia’s most endangered animals. This includes his favourite species, the mountain pygmy possum, which also happens to live in his favourite environment, the Australian alps.
After learning that many of the invasive insect species he was working with had devastating impacts on the farming industry, Andrew realised the value of basic applied research. By sharing his research he found that farmers could not only improve how they worked but also save money. He has gone on to bring this attitude to his work in conservation, where resources are scarce and monitoring is often considered a luxury. His knowledge and practical experience helped him realise that monitoring could be undertaken more efficiently, ultimately leading Andrew to undertake research into eDNA.
Andrew has led research around eDNA in Australia since 2012, applying it to a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic environments. This research has given him the confidence that eDNA can, and should, be used routinely in natural resource decision making.
While Andrew still loves to talk about genetics, he values how his experience can help businesses, managers and stakeholders make better environmental decisions. Outside of work, Andrew’s other great passion is trail running. Ironically, he has now realised that his own personal genetics are his nemesis and has recently spent more time in rehab than out on the trails.
Dr Paul Umina
Director BA Science (Honours), PhD Zoology and Genetics
Paul is passionate about the environment and loves nothing more than getting out and about in the great outdoors. Whether that means heading back to the family farm, travelling to new places or riding his bike around the foothills of Melbourne.
Growing up on a farm meant that Paul’s fascination with the natural world began at a young age and went on to become the driving force behind his decision to study biological sciences. Since completing a PhD on insects in agricultural environments, Paul has spent the last 15 years assisting Australian farmers in achieving a balance between profitability and environmental sustainability. He does this by developing new ways to combat the insect pests which plague their livelihood.
Paul is passionate about translating research findings and scientific knowledge into practical advice for industry and government. It was this that led him to team up with Andrew Weeks to form EnviroDNA. Paul is excited by the value that EnviroDNA can offer government and private organisations. He believes eDNA technology, if appropriately applied, will help to better manage natural ecosystems and protect Australia’s agricultural industries from biosecurity threats. He brings his unique experiences transcending the scientific and business worlds to EnviroDNA, and particularly likes to challenge the status quo.
Senior Wildlife Ecologist BA Science (Honours), Environmental Biology
Josh lives and breathes wildlife. Whether he’s protecting it, photographing it, kayaking through it, camping within it or mountain biking down it, a constant immersion in nature is how he chooses to spend his time.
It’s this healthy obsession with Australia’s natural habitat which first drove Josh to complete his Environmental Biology degree. After graduating he went on to demonstrate that no environment was too diverse by taking on projects in arid South Australia, the highlands of Victoria, and Tasmania’s river systems.
Over the last 10 years Josh has gone on to lead monitoring programs for a variety of fauna, and so has first-hand experience of the challenges involved in live-capture surveys. It’s this experience that has drawn Josh to eDNA, which is often more sensitive and cost effective than traditional survey techniques. Importantly to Josh, it’s a non-invasive technique, with little disturbance to any target animals. Through his extensive field experience, he has developed the ecological knowledge to design, and implement, outcome-focused projects for future-thinking clients. Josh is known for his ability to analyse, interpret and communicate data and it is these skills, as well as his passion and experience, that he brings to EnviroDNA.
The highlight of Josh’s job is that he gets to interact with a variety of organisations and communities, which means that he’s constantly sharing ideas, as well as hearing other people’s thoughts, on how best to protect Australia’s flora and fauna for future generations.
If you ever meet Josh and are looking for something to talk to him about, lead with the platypus. Josh loves the platypus and his work in ensuring its conservation has resulted in him completing over 10,000 hours of field studies throughout Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania.
Dr Katie Robinson
Senior Scientist - eDNA BA Science (Honours), PhD Biological Sciences
For almost as long as she can remember, Katie has been fascinated with the workings of the natural world, which she puts down to the fact that she loves getting to the bottom of a mystery. It’s a strange, yet happy, coincidence that she shares a birthday with fellow mystery solver, Agatha Christie.
Katie believes in the power of cross-disciplinary science. She was drawn to molecular biology as a student, and has spent much of her career exploring what these small-scale systems can tell us about bigger picture processes. In the past, Katie has used molecular tools and her knowledge of genetics to better understand the behaviour and ecology of a diverse range of species. She has studied swarm formation behaviour in locusts, native marsupial diets, genetic diversity in bees, microbial ecology and antimicrobial resistance in bacteria. Passionate about conservation, human and wildlife health and sustainability, the move to EnviroDNA was a natural progression for Katie and a further opportunity to play ‘molecular detective’. Here she uses cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology to characterise complex mixtures of DNA ‘evidence’ present in environmental samples, identify the species present and make estimates of their relative abundance.
Whether in the ocean, the bush or gardens big and small, Katie delights in being outdoors. This appreciation of our world’s natural beauty motivates her to equip you with the information you need to make decisions, and act to protect our environment.
Anthony Van Rooyen
Scientist - eDNA BA Science (Honours), Biochemistry
Anthony grew up on a picturesque farm sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Southern alps which nurtured a strong interest for agriculture and environment. This lead him to Lincoln University, Canterbury where he achieved First Class Honours in Biochemistry. When he’s not getting excited about EnviroDNA’s game-changing technologies Anthony loves nothing more than spending time with his young family.
While Anthony has a broad skillset and knowledge of contemporary genetics his real skill is in applying these genetic “toolkits” for positive outcomes in sustainability and conservation. At EnviroDNA Anthony works with clients and researchers from a diverse range of disciplines, always taking the time to begin relationships with a thorough understanding of their needs.
Anthony’s portfolio includes projects on human and animal health, biosecurity, monitoring, genetic rescue, insect pest management and identifying incursion pathways for invasive species. He loves that his work involves a wide variety of projects, which has meant that he has been able to get out in the field and apply technology to many different areas.
Anthony has been a consultant in biodiversity conservation for the past six years and has seen a growth in eDNA technologies over that time. He’s passionate about the work as it gives scientists the power to do more with less. Prior to EnviroDNA, Anthony was part of a research team investigating the effects of ocean acidification on seafloor ecosystems in Antarctica. It sounds cold, but lucky for Anthony he was based in temperature/pH controlled labs in New Zealand, missing out on those Antarctic conditions.
Sue Vern Song
Scientist - eDNA BA Science (Honours), Genetics and Computer Science
Sue completed a Bachelor of Science with majors in genetics and computer science. Her fascination with genetics arose out of a desire to understand how information was inherited in living organisms. Her interest in computer science was likely the result of her family's excitement over getting their very first dialup modem in 1996 and discovering the wonders of the internet and email.
Sue worked as an analyst programmer for a bank in Southeast Asia before being drawn back to the world of biology. Her past projects include investigating cold tolerance in Drosophila melanogaster (a well-studied vinegar fly that has long been used in genetic research) and population genomics of the cotton bollworm (a pest of several economically important crops). Her work on genomics ignited her interest in working with the increasingly large datasets generated by new sequencing technologies, which neatly led her to her current role with EnviroDNA.