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Professor Tara Pukala

Tara obtained a PhD from the University of Adelaide in 2006, under the supervision of Prof John Bowie. This was followed by a postdoctoral position at the University of Cambridge, UK, working with Prof Dame Carol Robinson in the field of native mass spectrometry.

Tara returned to Australia in 2008 to her current position as a research and teaching academic in the Discipline of Chemistry at the University of Adelaide. Since 2017 she has had the role of Scientific Director of the Adelaide Proteomics Centre.

Postgraduate Students     



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Originally from El Salvador, Gerardo earned his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Chemistry from Nagoya University, Japan, in 2017 and 2019, respectively. During this period, he conducted research on NLS-PNA conjugates with the Shoji Group. Following this, he acquired two years of valuable experience in Japan's chemical manufacturing industry. In 2022, he embarked on a new academic journey in Australia, joining the Pukala Group to pursue a Ph.D. His current focus involves the development of novel oligonucleotides for DNA recognition via triplex formation, achieved through a combination of experimental techniques and computational methods.

Gerardo Urbina

PhD Candidate

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Siqi completed her Bachelor and Masters degrees in chemistry at the University of Melbourne. When the winter in Melbourne was getting too cold for her liking, she then moved to Adelaide to pursue her PhD in chemistry in the Pukala Lab. During the Masters degree she started her research project in drug metabolite adducts with nucleotides, but eventually took up interest in proteins and biological mass spectrometry. Her current project focuses on diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, which aims to develop a highly sensitive mass spectrometry method on low abundant phospho-tau proteins using synthesized mass-tag.

Siqi Li
PhD Candidate


Sarveenah has successfully completed both a Bachelor of Science (2021) and an Honours (2022) degree at the University of Adelaide. While in the Pukala group, her honours research has focused on Triplex DNA formation in Antibiotic resistant bacteria as her project. Now deeply immersed in her PhD journey with the same group, Sarveenah continues expanding her scientific horizons. 

Sarveenah Chandrasegaran

PhD Candidate

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Ruth completed a BSc (Advanced) with a double major in Biochemistry and
Chemistry in 2017, and a MPhil degree with the Pukala Group in 2020 at the
University of Adelaide. Currently, Ruth is undertaking a PhD degree with the
Pukala Group. Her research focuses on the structural characterisation of snake venom proteins using a combination of proteomic and native mass
spectrometric approaches.

Ruth Chia-De Wang
PhD Candidate


I completed a Bachelor of Science (Molecular and drug design) in 2018, majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry. In 2019, I decided to complete my honours degree in the Pukala lab working on the biophysical characterisation of DNA triplexes for antigene technology using mass spectrometry. Continuing on was a very easy decision for me, so I am currently back in the Pukala lab as a PhD candidate.

Jack Klose
PhD Candidate

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River studied a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) at The University of Adelaide majoring in chemistry and biochemistry, continuing with a PhD in the Pukala group. River's research uses mass spectrometry-based approaches to probe the anthocyanin composition of various plant extracts to better understand their bioactivity, structural patterns and reactivity. Upon completion of his PhD, River hopes to continue to work in science within the agriculture and environment sectors, finding solutions to complex global issues.

River Pachulicz
PhD Candidate


Lewis completed his B.Sc (Advanced) in 2019 with a double chemistry major, during which he undertook several undergraduate research projects. In 2020 he completed his Honours project in the Pukala group, focusing on synthesising mass signal amplification tags and developing a new mass spectrometry-based assay for oligomeric inhibitor screening. In 2021 Lewis started his PhD working on characterising protein-protein complexes in snake venom to inform alternative antivenom development

Lewis McFarlane

PhD Candidate

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Having completed a Bachelors and Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering and spent 10 odd years in the biopharmaceutical industry, it was time to know the intimate details of my love interest (read : proteins). The main objective of my study is to identify and characterise the conformational changes that take place in the protein during its manufacturing from recombinant organism to formulation as a therapeutic. The conformational changes are attributed to a number of physical and chemical processes, which are an integral part of biopharmaceutical (protein) processing e.g. shear stresses encountered during upstream (fermentation) and downstream (purification), pH, conductivity and temperature fluctuations, interaction with other impurities or chemical species which can induce structural changes, etc. The idea is to uncover the structural journey of a therapeutic protein using covalent labelling and mass spectrometry.

Paritosh Tripathi

PhD Candidate

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I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in China and then moved to Australia for a study of a Masters degree. In 2015, I completed my Master of Science (Chemistry) at the University of Melbourne, under the supervision of Prof. Richard O'Hair. My background was to probe the mechanisms of group 11 metal promoted decarboxylation catalysis in gas-phase via multistage mass spectrometry experiments and DFT calculations. To broaden my horizon on application of mass spectrometry, I decided to join the Pukala group to undertake my PhD candidacy and change my research area to biochemistry. Now my project is to use mass spectrometry to obtain insight into DNA-DNA interactions and DNA-protein interactions.

Jiawei Li
PhD Candidate

Postdoctoral Researchers



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Blagojce completed his PhD at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute and the University of Wollongong in 2017, under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Heath Ecroyd and Dr. Andrew Aquilina. His PhD project focused on studying the structure-function relationship of small heat-shock proteins, which are associated with numerous degenerative diseases, using native mass spectrometry. He joined the Pukala group in 2017 to investigate the role lipids play in the aggregation dynamics of alpha-synuclein using a range of mass spectrometry-based approaches.

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Isobella joined the Pukala Group in late 2021 to characterise triplex DNA formation through native mass spectrometry and UV-Vis spectroscopy, and develop methods to synthetically modify oligonucleotides for improved third strand binding, for ultimate application as an anti-gene antibiotic technique. Her BSc (Chemical Biology), BSc Hons I (Organic Chemistry) and PhD in Chemistry were obtained from the University of Queensland. Her PhD research under the supervision of James De Voss and Joanne Blanchfield involved synthetising probe substrates to investigate enzyme mechanisms (2020). Her first post-doctoral position was with Craig Williams, also at UQ, synthesising AHAS-inhibitor herbicides for Weeds of National Significance using a bio-isostere approach. She is passionate about working at the interface of synthetic chemistry and chemical biology to tackle problems in human health and well-being.




Postgraduate Students

2022  Shona Swart

MPhil Thesis: 

2021 Alex Begbie

PhD Thesis: A Biophysical Investigation of Nucleic Acid Triplexes and Inversion Site Recognising Analogues

2019-2021  Emily Bubner
MPhil Thesis: Mass Spectrometric Characterisation of Protein Assemblies from Bitis arietans Snake Venom

2018-2019  Chia-De Ruth Wang
MPhil Thesis:
Structural Investigation of Snake Venom Proteins by Mass Spectrometry

2012 - 2018  Denise Tran
PhD Thesis:
Biological and Structure Characterisation of Eukaryotic Prefoldin

2014 - 2017  Kayla Downey

MPhil Thesis: Design and Synthesis of Protein Chemical Crosslinkers: A Modular Approach

2009 - 2013  Antonio Calabrese
PhD Thesis: Characterisation of Protein Structure and Interactions; Novel Applications to the Study of Bioactive Peptides


Honours Students

2022 Sarveenah Chandrasegaran

2020  Lewis McFarlane

2019  Jack Klose

2018  Brandt Dolic

2016  Alexander Begbie, Zoe Owens

2015  Yannii Pouferis

2014/2015  Henry Sanders

2014  Charles Whidborne

2013  Alexander Button, Michael Graetz

2012  Deanna Carmen, Tess Ferrin

2010  Nikki Good, Lam Ho, Lauren Speechley

2009  Jingjia He


Postdoctoral Researchers

2009 - 2014  Yanqin Liu

2011 - 2013  Danielle Williams

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