Sonja Frolich

Dr Sonja Frolich

NHMRC Grant-Funded Researcher (A)

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

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


Current Research Interests:

My current research focuses on the exciting intersection of proteomics, advanced imaging techniques, and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve our understanding of infectious diseases. I specialise in combining powerful tools like super-resolution microscopy (Airyscan, STED, STORM, and Expansion) with AI-driven image analysis workflows.

Currently, I apply these cutting-edge approaches to investigate the biosynthesis of rhoptry-associated proteins (RAPs) in Plasmodium falciparum, the malaria parasite. RAPs are crucial for the parasite's invasion of human red blood cells, making them prime targets for combating malaria.

Through high-resolution imaging and AI-driven analysis, I aim to:

  • Unravel the intricate mechanisms of RAPs function and interaction with host red blood cells.
  • Offer novel insights into malaria pathogenesis, opening avenues for more effective interventions.

Zeiss User Story, April 2022. "Exploring Malaria Parasite Entry into Red Blood Cells"
Zeiss User Story, April 2022. "Exploring Malaria Parasite Entry into Red Blood Cells".

 

Microscopy Australia
Microscopy Australia, April 2020. "Potential new drug target for tackling malaria".

 

My work extends beyond malaria. I successfully utilise these novel methods and algorithms for micrograph analysis in other infectious models, as evidenced by recent publications in virology (Shue et al., J Virol 2021) and bacteriology (Ascari, J Bacteriol 2023). This demonstrates the broad applicability of my research paving the way for further exploration in infectious diseases.

Lipid droplets in Panc-1 cells are largely diminished by intracellular S. flexneri
Lipid droplets in Panc-1 cells are largely diminished by intracellular S. flexneri. Cover Image by S Frölich.

 

Furthermore, I actively contribute to advancing malaria drug discovery efforts by:

  • Developing high-throughput screening assays to identify potent drug candidates, like inhibitors targeting the P. falciparum reticulocyte binding-like homologue 5 protein (Sleebs et al., Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2020).
  • Exploring novel derivatives of azithromycin for targeting malaria parasites (Burns et al., Front Cell Infect Microbiol 2022), a crucial step in combating drug resistance.

My publications in prestigious journals (Liffner, Frölich et al., Nat Comms 2020, Liffner, Balbin et al, Commun Biol 2022, and Liffner, Cepeda, ELife et al, 2023) demonstrate my expertise in parasitology, advanced imaging, image analysis, and my commitment to advancing our understanding of infectious diseases.

Through my research, I strive to make a significant contribution to the development of new antimalarial drugs and vaccines, ultimately aiming to improve global health outcomes.

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2018 - ongoing NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Associate The Malaria Biology Laboratory, University of Adelaide
    2016 - 2018 NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Adelaide
    2015 - 2016 NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Associate Children's Medical Research Institute
    2014 - 2015 Associate Lecturer University of Technolofy, Sydney
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2011 - 2014 University of Technology, Sydney Australia PhD
    2010 - 2011 University of Technology, Sydney Australia Honours

2023-26: Frölich S. (CIC) NHMRC Ideas Grant: APP2020822, with CIA Dr. Wilson.

2022: Frölich S. (sole-CI) School of Biological Sciences Early-Mid Career Research Association (BioEMCRA) seed funding, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology, University of Adelaide. "Development of machine learning based image analysis pipeline for quantification of malaria parasite proliferation and invasion."

2022: Frölich S. (CIC) with Shartner E., Dholakia K., Dunning, K. Research Roadmap Grant Scheme, Faculty of Science, University of Adelaide. "Portable digital holographic microscopy for medical and industrial applications."

2017: Part of Cross-Faculty Team. The University of Adelaide, Cross-Faculty Equipment Call. "AXT Oxford Nano-imager Single Molecule Microscope."

2017: Part of Robinson Research Institute Team. AHMS Research Infrastructure Upgrade. "Spinning Disc Confocal Microscope."

2017: Part of Robinson Research Institute Team. AHMS Research Infrastructure Upgrade. "Arrayscan XTI High-content screening in-cell imaging platform."

2016: Part of Robinson Research Institute Team. The University of Adelaide, DVCR, Research Infrastructure Scheme. "Advanced Confocal Microscope."

2016: Part of Cross-Faculty Team. The University of Adelaide, DVCR, Interdisciplinary Research Fund. "Imaris Advanced Microscopy Analysis Software."

2015: Frölich S. "Quantitative Telomere Health Analysis in Cancer: A Novel High-content Pipeline." Jenes for Genes Foundation.

2015: Frölich S. "A Structural understanding and quantitative measure of telomere health." CMRI Research Excellence Awards. University of Sydney.

2015: Frölich S. "Imaris Advanced Microscopy Image Analysis Software for analysis of telomere health in cancer cells." CMRI Capital Expenses Grant. University of Sydney.

2014: Frölich S. (Technion Australia Scholarship) Bio-innovation and Entrepreneurship Course at Technion, Israel Institute of Technology (Haifa, Israel).

2012: Frolich S. (The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation Travel Award).

2012: Frölich S. (Young Investigator Prize). Australian Society for Parasitology.

2012: Frölich S. (Vice Chancellor’s Postgraduate Travel Grant). UTS, Sydney.

2011: Frölich S. (Student Research Grant). UTS, Sydney.

2011 - 14: Frölich S. (PhD Scholarship) Department of Industry, Innovation Science, Research and Tertiary Education, Australian Government. 

 

  • Guest Lecturer, 3rd Year MICRO 3007 - Infection & Immunity A (Theory) III (since 2022), University of Adelaide
  • Guest Lecturer, OB&GYNAE 3100 – Research Project in Reproductive Health, (2015-2017), Medical School, University of Adelaide.
  • 91353 Microscopy and Flowcytometry (2013-2015), lectures and laboratory demonstrations. UTS, Sydney.
  • 91352 Parasitology (2011-2014), lectures and laboratory demonstrations. UTS, Sydney.
  • 91314 General Microbiology (2011-2014), laboratory demonstrations. UTS, Sydney
  • 91330 Epidemiology and Public Health Microbiology (2011-2014), laboratory demonstrations. UTS, Sydney.
  • 91368 Bioreactors and Bioprocessing (2011-2014), laboratory demonstrations. UTS, Sydney.

 

 

  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2023 Co-Supervisor Characterising key machinery that orchestrates malaria parasite host cell entry Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Shamit Singla
    2023 Co-Supervisor Functional characterisation of novel proteins in essential malaria protein complexes Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Meghan Emma Zadow
    2023 Co-Supervisor Characterisation of cytosolically exposed rhoptry leaflet interacting protein interacting partners that are essential for malaria entry into host cells Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Mia Andrews
    2023 Co-Supervisor Characterisation of malaria merozoite surface protein function and vaccine potential Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Keng Heng Lai
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2022 - ongoing Co-Supervisor Super-resolution Microscopy of Plasmodium falciparum rhoptries during merozoite development The University of Adelaide PPR III Lab Placement Other Part Time Aditi Upadhyay
    2022 - 2022 Co-Supervisor Building of Malaria Transfection Plasmids The University of Adelaide PPRIII Lab Placement Other Part Time Sophie Frances Thomson
    2022 - 2022 Co-Supervisor Imaging Plasmodium falciparum Rhoptries and Rhoptry Associated Proteins During Merozoite Development The University of Adelaide - Honours - Shamit Singla
    2021 - 2022 Co-Supervisor Imaging Plasmodium falciparum Rhoptry and Rhoptry Interacting Protein During Red Blood Cell Invasion The University of Adelaide - Honours Full Time Maxim Buckley
    2021 - 2023 Co-Supervisor Application of Expansion Microscopy to Visualise Plasmodium falciparum rhoptry and rhoptry associated proteins The University of Adelaide PPRIII Lab Placement Other Part Time Meghan Zadow
    2021 - 2021 Co-Supervisor Functional characterisation of malaria proteins and identification of interacting partners required for red blood cell invasion The University of Adelaide - Honours Part Time Ella May Edwards
    2019 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Basics of protein immunolocalisation and high-end microscopy in Plasmodium falciparum University of Adelaide - Other - Priscilla Peter Thomas
    2017 - 2021 Co-Supervisor The effects of the drug BGP-15 on metabolic processes altered by advancing age and oxidative stress on murine fertility Robinson Research Instutute, The University of Adelaide - Doctorate Full Time Yasmyn Gordon
    2016 - 2016 Co-Supervisor Mitochondrial Function Regulates Telomere Elongation during Embryogenesis Robinson Research Institute, The University of Adelaide - Honours Full Time Yasmyn Gordon
    2013 - 2013 Co-Supervisor Gametocyte antigens as a new coccidiosis vaccine Univeristy of Technology, Sydney - Master - Jacqueline Farhat
    2013 - 2013 Co-Supervisor Gametocyte antigens as a new coccidiosis vaccine University of Technology, Sydney - Honours - Annisha Shahparee
  • Mentoring

    Date Topic Location Name
    2024 - 2024 Machine learning workflows for analysis of Plasmodium falciparum rhoptry associated proteins PPRIII Lab Placement, The University of Adelaide Ca Dat Pham
    2021 - 2023 Insights into the Biological Constraints on Malaria Red Blood Cell Invasion and the Implications for Vaccine Development The University of Adelaide Jill Chmielewski
    2019 - 2022 Functional characterisation of putative Plasmodium falciparum invasion ligands and their homologues The University of Adelaide Juan Miguel Balbin
    2018 - 2021 Characterisation of the Function and Vaccine Potential of Surface Exposed Antigens Required for Malaria Parasite Invasion of Human Host Cells The University of ADelaide Isabelle Grace Henshall
    2017 - 2023 The effects of the drug BGP-15 on metabolic processes altered by advancing age and oxidative stress on murine fertility Robinson Research Institute, The University of Adelaide David Thomas Kennedy
    2017 - 2020 Functional Characterisation Of Novel Plasmodium falciparum Proteins And Their Role In Erythrocyte Invasion. The University of Adelaide Benjamin Scott Liffner
    2016 - 2020 The Molecular Mechanism of Progesterone Receptor in Regulating Gene Expression in Mouse Granulosa Cells during Ovulation Robinson Research Institute, The University of Adelaide Doan Thao Dinh
    2016 - 2020 Investigation of azithromycin analogues and proteasome-like inhibitors as quick-killing antimalarials The University of Adelaide Amy Lee Burns
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2021 - ongoing Member 2021 ASP Conference Organising Committee and Talk Judge Australian Society for Parasitology Australia
    2021 - ongoing Chair 2021 Lorne I&I Organiser and Chair of the ECR Networking Event 2021 Lorne Infection and Immunity Conference Australia
    2021 - ongoing Member Women In Malaria The University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
    2021 - ongoing Member School of Biological Sciences Early-Mid Career Researcher Association University of Adelaide Australia
    2019 - ongoing Member 2019 ASP Conference Organising Committee Australian Society for Parasitology Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2020 - ongoing Member Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing Australia
    2013 - ongoing Member Australian Society for Microbiology Australia
    2010 - ongoing Member Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Society Australia
    2010 - ongoing Member Australian Society for Parasitology Australia
  • Community Engagement

    Date Title Engagement Type Institution Country
    2024 - ongoing Mitcham Girls High School Public Community Engagement Mitcham Girls High School -
    2023 - ongoing Parasites Unmasked, National Science Week Public Community Engagement Australian Society for Parasitology -
    2022 - ongoing Promoting STEM in Early Learners Public Community Engagement Goodwood Primary School -
  • Industry Partnerships

    Date Engagement Type Partner Name
    2016 - ongoing Collaboration Cellomics Inc. (ThermoFisher Scientific)
    2015 - ongoing Collaboration MetaSystems, Carl Zeiss Pty Ltd - ZEISS Group
  • Review, Assessment, Editorial and Advice

    Date Title Type Institution Country
    2023 - ongoing Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation (CRF) Grant Assessment Channel 7 -
    2022 - ongoing School of Biological Sciences Postgraduate Symposium Peer Review The University of Adelaide -
    2022 - ongoing Channel 7 Children's Research Foundation (CRF) Grant Assessment Channel 7 -
    2022 - ongoing Shark Tank School of Biological Sciences Grant Assessment The University of Adelaide -
    2021 - ongoing Adelaide Protein Group Peer Review The University of Adelaide -
    2020 - 2023 Oliphant Science Award, South Australian Science Teachers Association Peer Review The University of Adelaide -
    2020 - ongoing School of Biological Sciences Postgraduate Symposium Peer Review The University of Adelaide -
  • Position: NHMRC Grant-Funded Researcher (A)
  • Email: sonja.frolich@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Molecular Life Sciences, floor 4
  • Org Unit: Molecular and Biomedical Science

Connect With Me
External Profiles