Dr Colin Scott

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Dr Scott was born in 1975 in Scotland. He obtained a BSc (hon) in Genetics from the University of Wales (UK) in 1996 and a PhD in Molecular Microbiology from Sheffield University (UK) in 2000.

He moved to CSIRO Entomology in Canberra in 2004 as a post-doctoral fellow, and now leads the Biocatalysis and Synthetic Biology Team in CSIRO Land & Water and the also the 'Chemical & Fibres' Application Domain in CSIRO’s Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform.

Dr Scott has a strong interest in understanding, engineering and harnessing the enormous biochemical and metabolic diversity that has evolved in nature, particularly in bacteria.

Nature has produced organisms that can perform some truly amazing chemistry at a level of sophistication that human chemists simply can’t match. Some of these biochemical innovations date back to the origins of life itself, where the 'chemical language' of biology developed. However, new biochemical functions still arise in response to changes in the chemical environment that organisms find themselves in, including the novel chemical challenges that post-industrial humanity provides.

Colin and his team investigate newly evolved catalytic proteins (i.e., enzymes) that catabolize synthetic chemicals (e.g., herbicides). Evolution of these new functions happens over a remarkably short span of time, especially in bacteria. Such systems are excellent models for studying the molecular mechanisms that drive (and constrain) evolution.

​While these evolutionary studies of enzymes provide deep insights into the way that biology works at a chemical level, there is also a broad range of practical applications for enzyme technologies. For example, we can use enzymes and microbes to drive chemical transformations (i.e. biocatalysis) that are lower in cost and are less polluting than traditional chemical methods. Biocatalysis is rapidly becoming a preferred technology in chemical manufacture.

With Synthetic Biology, these process can be transferred to fermentation organisms, closely related to the organisms used to make cheese, beer and wine, that can be used to manufacture complex chemicals from simple, cheap starting materials.

​Colin's current research activities include:

  • Protein structure/function relationships
  • Evolution of new protein function
  • Developing biotechnologies for pesticide bioremediation and biocatalysts for the synthesis of pharmaceuticals,
    fine chemicals and plastics/polymers
  • Investigating the role of Synthetic Biology in developing the next generation of biocatalysts

    For more information about Colin’s work, please visit the CSIRO Biocatalysis Team web page: http://csirobiocatalysisteam.net.

PhD projects and Partnering Opportunities are available in these areas - please contact Colin directly for more information: colin.scott@csiro.au

Academic Qualifications

  • 2000

    PhD in Molecular Microbioogy
    University of Sheffield

  • 1996

    BSc (Hon) in Genetics
    University of Aberystwyth

Achievements and Awards

  • 2010-2013

    Julius Award


We have publications by Dr Colin Scott