Stephen Kidd

Dr Stephen Kidd

Senior Lecturer

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Stephen graduated from the University of Queensland (PhD - molecular microbiology) and then undertook postdoctoral work at the University of Birmingham (UK) with Prof Nigel Brown (OBE, FRSE, FRSC, FRSB).

He moved to the University of Adelaide in 2008 where his research group works on pathogenic bacteria and the current work is focussed on determining the molecular, genetic and transcriptional systems bacteria use to survive under prolonged periods of time with stress. Of particular interest is that within an anatomical niche and importantly, over time, bacteria generate a diversity of cell types which enable survival. Identifying and characterising these adaptive cell types is important for understanding chronic and relapsing infectious diseases. His research investigates various pathogenic bacteria, in particular Staphylococcus aureus. Within different anatomical niches there are numerous stresses the bacteria encounter and these include nutrient stress, changes in pH as well as direct chemical stress (such as oxidative stress) and the stress generated by antibiotics.


Our focus is to understand chronic and relapsing bacterial infections. We use various traditional microbiological techniques together with modern –omics approaches to determine the molecular systems that bacteria use to survive for prolonged periods of time under physical and chemical stresses. What is particularly interesting is that when infecting an anatomical niche, over a long time period, bacteria generate a diversity of cell types – it is these that enable survival against various antimicrobial processes. 

SCV cells

By creating steady-state growth conditions we can enable the broader bacterial cell types which may have decreased fitness; to be studied – these include biofilm cells, persister cells and Small Colony Variants (SCVs). Identifying and characterising these adaptive cell types is important for understanding chronic and relapsing infectious diseases. Our research investigates various pathogenic bacteria, commensal bacteria that do switch to a virulent type and the combinations of bacteria. 

RESEARCH PROJECTS:                 Model for SCV

Many bacterial species have a capacity to respond to antimicrobial processes and assaults by the production of any number of virulence factors (above; blue circles). Pathology that is due to bacterial infection is generally the result of the interaction between these factors and the host cells. There is also a very clear understanding that within a clonal population of bacterial cells there are a variety of cell types (phenotypic variants). This may include the Small Colony Variants (SCVs – above; pale green circles), persister cells (above; dark green circles) and biofilm cells (above; gold circles).

These cell types are quasi-dormant, they have limited expression of virulence factors and immune mediators and they have low metabolic activity and growth. There are inherently tolerant of antibiotics. They are very hard to clear from the site of infection and are the basis for chronic and relapsing infections.

Compounded with this is that often within the body there are pre-existing bacteria or other co-infecting pathogens. We have projects that study different bacterial species and their transition into an alternative lifestyle: such as Staphylococcus aureusMoraxella catarrhalisHaemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoninae.

We have used continuous culture techniques to follow the development of phenotypically diverse populations (as a mono-culture or within a community of bacterial species) and then to map the transcriptional, molecular and genetic events that define these changes in the population. This includes the transition to a biofilm and the dynamics of a multi-species biofilm. We are also interested in following the molecular genetics of the bacteria and the bacterial population as they adapt to their environment in laboratory scale evolution expierments.


We have Honours Projects each year within the theme of the molecular microbiology of pathogenic bacteria during their response to stresses. The projects involve traditional microbiology, molecular biology and modern –omics techniques as well as cell biology (using human tissue culture techniques). Projects are designed around both fundamental, training and achievable tasks alongside extended goals. These projects are designed within the context of the current, developing research within the laboratory. The work is essential research, with a focus to combine with the bigger projects and therefore for scientific publications. The exact nature of the work can be discussed and actual projects described in the month or so leading into the start of the Honours year. 

Masters and PhD projects:

We welcome Masters or PhD students and can happily discuss the nature of such projects. 



  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2020 - ongoing Associate Head (Learning and Teaching), School of Biological Sciences University of Adelaide
    2018 - ongoing Deputy Director (Australian Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance Ecology, ACARE) University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2017 - 2018 Associate Dean (Student Life) University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2013 - ongoing Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2008 - 2012 Lecturer University of Adelaide
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2012 Award Faculty of Science Early Career Teaching Award University of Adelaide Australia -
    2009 Fellowship Fellow of the Australian Society for Microbiology ASM Australia -
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2008 University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia Graduate Certificate (Higher Education)
    1995 - 1998 University of Queensland Australia PhD
  • Research Interests

I am Program Co-ordinator for the Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology). 

I am coordinator for Science Internships

I teach into several other course.

I lead a Global Mobility Study tour to South Korea - Seoul-changing Biotechnology.

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

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2024 Principal Supervisor Phenotypic Diversity of Staphylococcus aureus During Colonisation. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Chloe Michelle Burford-Gorst
    2023 Principal Supervisor Bacterial lifestyles that provide tolerance of antimicrobials Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Hasindu Gayanitha Dassanayake
    2022 Co-Supervisor Validating Novel Antibiotic and Herbicide Targets to Circumvent Resistance Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Daniel Adam Hawkins
    2022 Co-Supervisor Identification of bacterial resistance to silver-based wound dressings. Master of Clinical Science Master Part Time Dr Matipaishe Saul Mashayamombe
    2020 Co-Supervisor Understanding the effect of biochar on the reduction of hydrogen sulphide in biogas from a biodigester Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Ben Ashleigh Collins
    2020 Co-Supervisor Microbial dark matter: linking structure, functional genetics and bioremediation potential of microbial communities in a degraded hypersaline estuary. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Christopher Clement Keneally
    2019 Co-Supervisor Disruption of sub-gingival biofilms using innovative anti-microbial compounds to prevent and treat periodontal disease Master of Philosophy (Dentistry) Master Part Time Ms Julia Kaburaki
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2020 - 2023 Principal Supervisor Investigating the Influence of Fungicide Usage and Vineyard Disease Management on the Grapevine Microbiome and Wine Quality Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Brady Leigh Welsh
    2019 - 2023 Co-Supervisor Antimicrobial resistance in Escherichia coli and enterococci isolated from beef cattle Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Yohannes Equar Messele
    2018 - 2022 Co-Supervisor Pre-Clinical In Vitro and In Vivo Testing of Novel Antimicrobials for the Treatment of Bacterial Infections Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Hang Thi Nguyen
    2018 - 2023 Co-Supervisor Lanthanide-doped upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) for biomedical
    Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Afshin Karami
    2018 - 2022 Principal Supervisor Persistent Staphylococcus aureus infection through the selection of alternative lifestyles Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr James Lee
    2017 - 2020 Co-Supervisor The Use of Biochar in High-Solids Anaerobic Digestion Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Mathu Indren
    2016 - 2020 Co-Supervisor Investigation of the IcsA-mediated Shigella flexneri hyper-adherence Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jilong Qin
    2015 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Characterisation of the Shigella flexneri O Antigen Polymerase Wzy Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Pratiti Nath
    2013 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Polarity and Secretion of Shigella flexneri IcsA: A Classical Autotransporter Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Matthew Thomas Doyle
    2012 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Haemophilus influenzae survival and biofilm formation in a complex physical, chemical and multispecies environment. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Alexandra Tikhomirova
    2011 - 2015 Principal Supervisor STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS: STRESS RESPONSE AND ITS ROLES IN PATHOGENESIS Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Minh Giao Long Bui
    2010 - 2016 Co-Supervisor Proteomic Analysis of Enterococcus faecalis Cell Membrane Proteins under Alkaline Stress Conditions Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time APrf Peter Cathro
    2009 - 2014 Principal Supervisor Coupling Stress Responses and Growth Pathways in Haemophilus influenzae Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Changde Donald Jiang
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2015 - ongoing Chair School of Biological Sciences Teaching and Learning Committee University of Adelaide Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2015 - ongoing Member Australian Society for Antimicrobials Australia
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2014 - ongoing Consulting Editor Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology - -
  • Position: Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: 83135396
  • Email:
  • Fax: 83134362
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Molecular Life Sciences, floor 5
  • Org Unit: Molecular and Biomedical Science

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