Dr Charles K. Lee

Charles Lee

Senior Lecturer

Qualifications: BSc (Life Science) Tsing-Hua Taiwan, PhD Waikato

About Charles

I am a microbial ecologist who utilises diverse technology-intensive approaches (e.g., genomics, molecular biology, drone-based remote sensing, and machine learning) to address basic and applied scientific challenges. My main interests are in extreme ecosystems such as Antarctica and geothermal environments, but I work on a wide range of habitats where my expertise can make an impact.


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Papers Taught

Research Supervised


  • Yang, Yuchen (in progress): Retrieving and compiling knowledge of Antarctic biology using computational techniques
  • Hamill, Carlin (in progress - chief supervisor Vic Arcus): Understanding enzyme evolution and allostery using Macromolecular Rate Theory
  • Abbaszadeh, Jaber (in progress): The global ecology of Deinococcaceae
  • Noble, Anya (in progress): The biogeography and functional roles of the Leptospermum scoparium (mānuka) phyllosphere microbiome
  • Cabria, Gamaliel Lysander (in progress): Intra-species genomic variation and gene flow in hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria
  • Brandt, Shelly (in progress - chief supervisor Craig Cary): The effects of ocean acidification on microbial nutrient cycling and productivity in coastal marine sediments
  • Monteiro, Maria (in progress - chief supervisor Craig Cary): Resolving functional resilience of microbial communities to climate-induced change in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica
  • Wakerley, Georgia (in progress - chief supervisor Craig Cary): Human impact on the McMurdo Dry Valley soils of Antarctica: extending the limits of forensic DNA detection
  • Payyakkal Viswam, Jayadev (2016 - chief supervisor Ian McDonald): The role of the gut microbiome of the Huhu grub in lignocellulose breakdown

MSc (Research)

  • Prout, Bernadette (in progress): Microbiome of Ryegrass
  • Livne, Shir (in progress): Characterising bacterial communities associated with bioactive-producing marine invertebrates
  • Challis, Jacinda (in progress): Effects of post-operative antibiotics in endoscopic sinus surgery
  • Ferris, Kelsey (2021): eDNA-based monitoring of freshwater mussel populations
  • Noble, Anya (2018): Environmental and biogeographical drivers of the Leptospermum scoparium (mānuka) phyllosphere microbiome
  • Hu, Xiaoxue (2017): Genetic tool to detect three New Zealand freshwater mussels (Echyridella menziesii, Echyridella aucklandica, Echyridella onekaka) in environmental DNA
  • Juwono, Joshua (2017): Enhancement of “flavours” through enzymatic release of glutamate

Research Interests

I study the microbial ecology and microbial genomics of a wide range of unusual ecosystems, including terrestrial geothermal habitats and the Antarctic Dry Valleys, using molecular genetic and bioinformatic tools. I also have active research projects on the microbial ecology of plant-, animal-, and human-associated habitats.

I'm interested in the development and validation of novel molecular techniques and bioinformatic analyses, and I use them in conjunction with geochemistry to examine the interactions between microbial communities and their environments.

View my Google Scholar profile here.

Recent Publications

  • Coyne, K. J., Parker, A. E., Lee, C. K., Sohm, J. A., Kalmbach, A., Gunderson, T., . . . Cary, S. C. (2020). The distribution and relative ecological roles of autotrophic and heterotrophic diazotrophs in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. FEMS microbiology ecology, 96(3). doi:10.1093/femsec/fiaa010

  • Levy, J., Cary, S. C., Joy, K., & Lee, C. K. (2020). Detection and community-level identification of microbial mats in the McMurdo Dry Valleys using drone-based hyperspectral reflectance imaging. Antarctic Science. doi:10.1017/S0954102020000243

  • Bottos, E. M., Laughlin, D. C., Herbold, C. W., Lee, C. K., McDonald, I. R., & Cary, S. C. (2020). Abiotic factors influence patterns of bacterial diversity and community composition in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica. FEMS microbiology ecology, 96(5). doi:10.1093/femsec/fiaa042

  • Monteiro, M., Baptista, M. S., Séneca, J., Torgo, L., Lee, C. K., Cary, S. C., & Magalhães, C. (2020). Understanding the response of nitrifying communities to disturbance in the mcmurdo dry valleys, antarctica. Microorganisms, 8(3). doi:10.3390/microorganisms8030404

Find more research publications by Charles Lee


Antarctica; Biochemistry; Biology; Biotechnology; Ecology; Environmental Biochemistry; Environmental Science and Technology; Microbiology; Molecular Biology

Contact Details

Email: [email protected]
Room: TRU.G.17
Phone: +64 7 838 4241