Tara Pukala

Associate Professor Tara Pukala

Associate Professor

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.

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.

    Expand
  • Appointments

    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
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2003 - 2006 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    1999 - 2002 University of Adelaide Australia BSc (Hons)

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

Other
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

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

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    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 Structure Determination of Biomolecular Assemblies by Mass Spectrometry Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Parveen Pahuja
    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
  • 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
  • Position: Associate Professor
  • Phone: 83135497
  • Email: tara.pukala@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4380
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Badger, floor 2
  • Room: 2 22
  • Org Unit: Chemistry

Connect With Me
External Profiles

Other Links