Associate Professor Belinda Ferrari
ARC Future Fellow, Deputy Head of School and Director of Research
Field of Research: 
Microbial ecology
Contact details:
(+61 2) 9385 2032

Room 4102, Level 4, Building E26

School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences,

UNSW Sydney



I am currently an ARC Future Fellow, Deputy Head of School and the Director of Research. My research area is environmental microbiology. I specialise in Antarctic soil biodiversity and perform discovery-based and applied research. I am passionate about integrating single cell technologies with innovative cultivation methods and genomics to the uncover the diversity and functional capacity of uncharacterised soil microbiomes. By doing so, my team recently discovered a novel carbon fixation process where cold adapted bacteria literally ‘live on air’. We coined this microbial-based process ‘atmospheric chemosynthesis’ and published these findings in the prestigious journal Nature. My team also works on using microbes as indicators of soil health, for the assessment of ecosystem recovery during bioremediation and for developeming site-specific ecotoxicity assessments. My future goals are to continue to challenge our understanding of the nutritional limits required for life, while training the next generation of confident scientists.


I am a supportive, approachable superviser with my team being comprised of a high number of PhD and Honours students

  • Uncovering the diversity of novel secondary metabolites in polar soils - Nicole Benaud, PhD; Completed 2020
  • Residual toxicity and bioremediation of soils at Casey station, Antarctica - Sarita Pudasaini, PhD; Completed 2020
  • Isolation and characterisation of Candidatus Dormibacteraeota (AD3) in Antarctic soil- Kate Montgomery, PhD
  • Understanding drivers of the nitrogen cycle in pristine and hydrocarbon contaminated polar soils - Sally Crane, PhD
  • Microbial diversity and drivers of community assembly across east Antarctica - Eden Zhang, PhD
  • Mapping the global significance of atmospheric chemosynthesis - Angelique Ray, PhD
  • Microbial community shifts after a decade of change in the Windmill Islands, east Antarctica - Sin Yin Wong, PhD
  • Microbial bioactives and elucidating their role in Antarctica - Carolina Gutiérrez-Chávez, PhD
  • Cultivation and characterisation of ammonia oxidising Archaea from Antarctic Enrichments – Devan Chelliah, PhD
  • Ecotoxicity assessments of aged hydrocarbon contaminated soils at Casey station - Jessica Dai, Honours
  • Can Candidatus Eremiobacterota be cultivated? - Dana Tribbia, Honours


Leadership and Service

  • UNSW Sydney, Deputy Head of School and Director of Research, School of BABS, 2018 - current
  • UNSW Sydney, University Promotion Committee (A/Prof) 2018 - 2020
  • UNSW Sydney, Senior Lecturer Promotion Committee, Faculty of Science 2017-2018
  • International Scientific Committee Member for Polar and Alpine Microbiology conference, 2019
  • Australian Microbiome Scientific Co-ordination Working Group, 2019 - current
  • UNSW Sydney, Faculty of Science Board member, 2018 - current
  • Royal Society of New Zeakand, Marsden Fund, Panelist Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour, 2017-2019
  • Academy of Sciences National Committee for Antarctic Research, 2012-2016