Melanie McDowall

Dr Melanie McDowall

Grant Development and Science Communication

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Dr Mel McDowall (Sutton-McDowall) is a Senior Research Associate within the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), The University of Adelaide, which brings together the physics and chemistry of light to solve biological questions. Her role within the CNBP is to devise non-invasive, non-toxic diagnostics for predicting oocyte and embryo health and quality, stemming from Mel’s strong history in studying the metabolism of oocytes and embryos. To date, Mel has 33 research and review articles detailing oocyte and embryo metabolism (1267 citations, H-index = 16), including two reviews in Human Reproduction Update and Reproduction that has been cited 274 and 205 times respectively.

Mel received her PhD in 2005 from the University of Adelaide (glucose metabolism in cattle cumulus oocyte complexes), under the supervision of A/Prof Jeremy Thompson. Pivotal work includes identifying the role of the fuel-sensing pathway, the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway, in post-translational modifications of proteins within oocytes, a mechanism through which high glucose environments compromise oocyte and embryo health. After a brief postdoctoral position within the Department of Animal Sciences (2004-2008) investigating the role of the maternal environment on fetal wool development, Mel returned to A/Prof Thompson’s group as a senior research associate. Her work translates to both human and livestock assisted reproduction and she is currently involved in the reproduction steering committee of Dairy Australia.

In addition, Mel is passionate about science communication and outreach. She has received a Young Tall Poppy Award in recognition of her outreach activities, has written for websites such as “The Conversation” and "I Quit Sugar", was involved in the “Fertility is Ageist” campaign (yourfertility.org.au) and has just completed a three year term as the public relations secretary for the Society for Reproductive Biology.

ARC Senior Research Associate
Early Development group, led by A/Prof Jeremy Thompson: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/robinson-research-institute/researchers/group-leaders/thompson/

ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), Spark of Life: http://www.cnbp.org.au
Robinson Research Institute: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/robinson-research-institute/
Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS): http://www.adelaide.edu.au/ipas/

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2014 ARC Senior Research Associate The University of Adelaide
    2008 Research Associate The University of Adelaide
    2007 - 2008 Lecturer and Course Developer TAFE SA
    2004 - 2008 Postdoctoral Researcher The University of Adelaide
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2016 Award eChallenge: winner of research commericalisation The University of Adelaide Australia
    2016 Award eChallenge: winner of medical devices The University of Adelaide Australia
    2016 Research Award Best Transdisciplinary Publication Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS)
    2016 Scholarship Masters in Business Administration (MBA) Scholarship The University of Adelaide
    2015 Award Best Transdisciplinary Publication ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP)
    2015 Award Best International Abstract (Australia and New Zealand) Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR)
    2014 Award Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) New Scientist Award Society for Reproductive Biology
    2012 Achievement Newcastle Reproduction Early Career Research Emerging Leader Award Society for Reproductive Biology
    2011 Award Best Oral Presentation, Early Career Australian Society for Medical Research SA
    2006 Award Young Tall Poppy Science Award Australian Institute for Policy and Science
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2016 The University of Adelaide Australia Master of Business Administration (MBA)
    2001 - 2005 The University of Adelaide Australia PhD (Health Science)
    2000 - 2001 The University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Honours)
    1998 - 1999 The University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Biochemistry and Genetics)
  • Research Interests

2016: CSIRO On Prime Training Scheme, Making Better Babies ($5000). CIs Sutton-McDowall ML, Hall J & Bernhardt K 
2016: Barbara Kidman Fellowship (The University of Adelaide), $30 000 for professional development (Masters of Business Administration)
2016: Pilot project funding (Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing), Determining embryo health and morphology using whispering gallery modes (WGM) ($5000). CIs Sutton-McDowall ML & Hall J
2014-2016: ARC Senior Research Associate, ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (0.8 FTE salary + $15000 x 3 years)
2014: Seed grant funding (School of Animal and Veterinary Science), The metabolic rate of equine cumulus-oocyte complexes ($3000). CIs Lin J, Sutton-McDowall ML & Thompson JG
2014: Seed grant funding  (School of Animal and Veterinary Science), The effects of oocyte secreted factors GDF-9 and BMP15 on mitochondrial gene expression and cellular ATP concentrations in ovine oocytes ($4000). CIs McGrice H, Nattrass G, Kelly J, Sutton-McDowall ML & Thompson JG
2012-20113: Gardiner Foundation (dairy industry of Victoria), Improving the fertility of high performance Holestein cows during early lactation ($60 000). CIs Thompson JG, Robker R & Sutton-McDowall ML *1st ranked grant
2011-2013
: NHMRC project grant, Characterisation of cumulus cell molecular mediators of oocyte health ($436 299). CIA Thompson JG, CIB Gilchrist RB, CIC Sutton-McDowall, CID Gardner DG
2007-2008: Sheep Genomics Program, The long-term effects of fetal manipulation on wool follicle parameters in sheep and nutritional manipulation of hair follicle development ($178 000). CIs McDowall ML, Edwards NM, Hynd PI

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  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2016 - ongoing Member International Congress of Animal Reproduction
    2014 - 2015 Representative Executive Management Committee ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics Australia
    2013 - ongoing Council Society for Reproductive Biology Australia
    2013 - ongoing Member Dairy Moving Forward Reproduction Steering Committe Dairy Australia Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2011 - 2011 Australian Society for Medical Research
    2005 - 2008 Australasia Hair and Wool Research Society
    2005 - 2008 Society for Investigative Dermatology
    2004 - 2008 Sheep Genomics
    2002 - ongoing International Embryo Transfer Society
    2001 - ongoing Society for Reproductive Biology
  • Consulting/Advisories

    Date Institution Department Organisation Type Country
    2013 - ongoing Dairy Australia Australia
  • Position: Grant Development and Science Communication
  • Phone: 83130766
  • Email: melanie.mcdowall@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: The Braggs
  • Org Unit: Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing

Connect With Me
External Profiles