School of Physical Sciences
Faculty of Sciences
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD, but is currently at capacity - email supervisor to discuss availability.
Tara Pukala obtained a PhD from the University of Adelaide in 2006, under the supervision of Prof John Bowie. This was followed by a postdoctoral position at the University of Cambridge, UK, working with Prof Dame Carol Robinson in the field of native mass spectrometry.
Tara returned to Australia to her current role as lecturer in the Discipline of Chemistry at the University of Adelaide in 2008. Here she leads a multidisciplinary research group focused on developing new approaches, primarily utilising mass spectrometry, to investigate the structure, function and interactions of macromolecules important in biology.
Since 2017 she has had the role of Scientific Director of the Adelaide Proteomics Centre.
- My Research
- Grants and Funding
- Professional Activities
Biological macromolecules such as proteins and DNA form the machinery that underlies all biological functions. The ability to ‘see’ the atomic detail of these assemblies, including their structures and interactions with other molecules, provides an opportunity to understand their biological activity. It also helps unravel processes which have gone astray to cause disease, and therefore find new treatments for a range of human illnesses.
In recent years mass spectrometry has emerged as a powerful tool for structural biology, in many cases capable of exceeding other techniques by diversity in application and information content. This is due to the ability of mass spectrometry to precisely identify biomolecules, binding interactions, detect individual species present in a mixture, and offer conformational information for large, dynamic and heterogeneous structures, with physiological relevance.
Research in the Pukala group is directed towards development of new approaches, primarily using mass spectrometry, to obtain insight into the structure, function and interactions of macromolecules, with a focus on enhancing understanding of multi-molecular systems involved in disease.
Current projects include;
- development of ion mobility-mass spectrometry (and complementary tools) for the study of large protein complexes
- design of novel mass spectrometry amenable protein cross-linking strategies
- mechanistic studies of protein misfolding and aggregation
- structural analysis of triplex DNA
For more details of current projects, see the Pukala Group website.
Date Position Institution name 2017 Associate Professor University of Adelaide 2012 - 2016 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide 2008 - 2011 Lecturer University of Adelaide 2007 - 2008 Postdoctoral Research Fellow University of Cambridge
Awards and Achievements
Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount 2017 Research Award Australian and New Zealand Society of Mass Spectrometry Bowie Medal Australian and New Zealand Society of Mass Spectrometry Australia — 2014 Teaching Award University of Adelaide Faculty of Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching University of Adelaide Australia — 2012 Research Award HG Andrewartha Medal Royal Society of South Australia Australia — 2011 Award Young Tall Poppy Science Award Australian Institute of Policy and Science Australia — 2010 Award South Australian Young Achiever (Science and Technology) Awards Australia Australia — 2009 Research Award University of Adelaide Faculty of Sciences Early Career Research Excellence Award University of Adelaide Australia — 2003 Award University of Adelaide Medal University of Adelaide Australia — 2003 Scholarship George Fraser PhD Scholarship University of Adelaide Australia — 2001 Scholarship Ferry Scholarship Cedric Arnold Seth Ferry Trust — —
Date Institution name Country Title 2003 - 2006 University of Adelaide Australia PhD 1999 - 2002 University of Adelaide Australia BSc (Hons)
Research InterestsAnalytical Biochemistry Analytical Chemistry Analytical Spectrometry Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Biologically Active Molecules Characterisation of Biological Macromolecules General Chemistry Medicinal and Biomolecular Chemistry Organic Chemistry Proteins and Peptides Proteomics and Intermolecular Interactions Structural Biology Structural Chemistry and Spectroscopy
Year Citation 2008 Sanchez-Torner, L., Pukala, T., Vilaseca, M., Robinson, C., Giralt, E., & Carulla, N. (2008). Recycling in A beta(1-42) amyloid fibrils. In JOURNAL OF PEPTIDE SCIENCE Vol. 14 (pp. 108). WILEY. 2008 Sanchez, L., Pukala, T., Zhou, M., Vilaseca, M., Carulla, N. L., & Giralt, E. (2008). Structure and dynamic characterization of beta A aggregates using HID exchange experiments by mass spectrometry. In JOURNAL OF PEPTIDE SCIENCE Vol. 14 (pp. 110). WILEY. 2007 Gehman, J. D., Boland, M. P., Pukala, T. L., Bowie, J. H., & Separovic, F. (2007). Membrane interactions of antimicrobial peptides from Australian tree frogs.. In BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL (pp. 70A). Baltimore, MD: BIOPHYSICAL SOCIETY.
Year Citation 2015 Smid, S., Das, S., Musgrave, I., & Pukala, T. (2015). Bioactive polyphenol interactions with beta amyloid: a comparison of binding, fibril inhibition and neuroprotection. Poster session presented at the meeting of JOURNAL OF NEUROCHEMISTRY. Cairns, AUSTRALIA: WILEY-BLACKWELL.
Australian Research Council
2018-20: ARC Discovery Project (DP180103974)
V Bulone and T Pukala. Characterisation of vital carbohydrate synthases in pathogenic oomycetes. $546K
2017-19: ARC Discovery Project (DP170102033)
T Pukala and A Politis. Mass spectrometry to reveal the role of lipids in protein misfolding, $324K
2011-13: ARC Discovery Project (DP110100496)
T Pukala. Structural and functional investigations of the human transcription machinery by ion mobility mass spectrometry, $340K
2010-12: ARC Discovery Project (DP1093143)
T Pukala and J Bowie. Novel mass spectrometric approaches to the study of protein-protein interactions, $360K
2013: ARC LIEF (LE130100199)
P Hoffmann, T Chataway, J Bowie, G Fincher, M Brown, T Pukala, C Franco, D Keating, D Brooks, L Cosgrove, K Fung, M Herderich, W Hines. Establishment of the peptide and protein quantitation centre of South Australia: PAPQuaC-SA, $475K
2012: ARC LIEF (LE120100181)
L Botten, D Leinweber, L Radom, J Gready, M England, A Mark, H Blackburn, A Hogg, C Jakob, A Pitman, BJ Powell, K Rasmussen, L Moresi, A Yu, M Knackstedt, M Bilek, M Ragan, B Schmidt, R Muller, T Pukala, J Sori, C Turney, K Hourigan, D Adelson, R Khanna, J Denier, B Pailthorpe. Strengthened merit-based access and support at the new NCI petascale supercomputing facility, $650K
2016-2018: The Australia & Pacific Science Foundation
S Petit, T Pukala, R Schumann, A Naikatini, A Scanlon. Unique pollination system of an important rainforest tree involving obligate manipulation by bats, $45K
2016-17: University of Adelaide Interdisciplinary Research Fund
V Bulone, T Pukala, A Zannettino, C Doonan, C Sumby. An interdisciplinary research program to map the protein-glycan interactome of key eukaryotic
cellular systems: interfacing biophysics and chemistry with cancer research, microbiology and plant sciences, $25K
2016: University of Adelaide Faculty of Sciences eLearning Program
NM Williamson, TL Pukala, CJ Doonan. Development of level II chemistry online assessment and student feedback. $7K
2013-14: University of Adelaide Interdisciplinary Research Fund
I Musgrave, S Smid, L O’Keefe, T Pukala. Structure function relationships of antiamyloid drugs: verification in an in-vivo model, $21K
2013-14: University of Adelaide Interdisciplinary Research Fund
T Pukala and M Fuller. Mass spectrometric approaches to characterise alpha-synuclein-glucosylsphingosine interations: application to the Parkinsonian Syndrome, $25K
Teaching interests include:
Biological structure determination
Mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy
Biological and synthetic organic chemistry
Physical organic chemistry
Foundations of chemistry
Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2019 Principal Supervisor Mass Spectrometric Characterisation of Protein Assemblies from Snake Venom Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Emily Rose Bubner 2019 Co-Supervisor Identification of Human Biomarkers for Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease ad other Dementia Related Illnesses Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Kym McNicholas 2018 Principal Supervisor Structural Investigation of Venom Proteins Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Chia-De Ruth Wang 2017 Principal Supervisor Synthesis and application of novel protein reagents for structure determination. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Katherine Stevens 2017 Principal Supervisor Biophysical Characterisation of unusual DNA Structures Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Alexander Jacob Begbie 2016 Principal Supervisor Characterisation of proteins and protein complexes using MS Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Henry Michael Sanders 2016 Principal Supervisor Mas Spectrometric Analysis of Higher Order DNA and Protein Structures Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jiawei Li 2015 Principal Supervisor Analysis of In-Vitro Aggregation of Therapeutic Proteins Using immobility Mass Spectrometry Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Paritosh Kumar Tripathi 2011 Co-Supervisor Study of Ebselen and Selenium Containing Amino Acids in vitro Properties Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jason Lee Wedding
Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2016 - 2018 Co-Supervisor A Mechanistic Study of the Stability of Triple-Stranded DNA Structures Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mrs Belinda Jayne Boehm 2015 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Small molecular inhibitors of Amyloid beta and alpha Synuclein amyloidogenic aggregation, toxicity and in silico design of amyloid-binding ligands Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Sukanya Das 2014 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Design and Synthesis of Protein Chemical Crosslinkers: A Modular Approach Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Kayla Monique Downey 2012 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Biological and Structure Characterisation of Eukaryotic Prefoldin Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Denise Tran 2010 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Structural and mechanistic studies of post-translationally modified peptides and proteins Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Thi Thanh Nha Tran 2009 - 2013 Co-Supervisor Characterisation of Protein Structure and Interactions: Novel Applications to the Study of Bioactive Peptides Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Antonio Calabrese 2009 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Linked beta-cyclodextrin trimers: From molecular recognition to polymer network hydrogels Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Trang Thi Hanh Nguyen 2009 - 2014 Co-Supervisor A study on the interactions of synthetic IGF-II analogues with the type 1 IGF and insulin receptors Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Miss Jade Misty Cottam
Date Role Committee Institution Country 2011 - ongoing Member Australian and New Zealand Society for Mass Spectrometry Executive Committee Australian and New Zealand Society for Mass Spectrometry Australia
Date Role Membership Country 2009 - ongoing Member Australian Society for Biophysics Australia 2005 - ongoing Member Royal Australian Chemical Institute Australia 2004 - ongoing — Australian and New Zealand Society for Mass Spectrometry Australia
Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country 2017 - ongoing Associate Editor Frontiers in Chemistry (Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry) Frontiers Switzerland 2017 - ongoing Associate Editor Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry Wiley United States 2017 - ongoing Editor European Journal of Mass Spectrometry SAGE Journals United Kingdom 2013 - ongoing Board Member Nature Scientific Reports Nature Publishing Group United States
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