Blog icon

Dr Jana Sperschneider

Senior Research Scientist


Please enter a valid first name

Please enter a valid last name

Please enter a valid email address

Please enter your message to send to the contact


I am a bioinformatician who uses computational techniques to drive knowledge discovery in biology. I completed a M.Sc. in Computer Science with a focus on Bioinformatics at the University of Freiburg, Germany. In 2008, I commenced a Ph.D. at the University of Western Australia in which I developed novel methods for the computational prediction of non-coding RNA structure. In 2012, I joined CSIRO as a Postdoctoral Fellow to work on plant-pathogen interactions. In 2018, I joined the Australian National University as a Research Fellow at the Biological Data Science Institute and was awarded a 2019 ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) to uncover how rust fungi cause devastating plant diseases. In 2021 I joined CSIRO as a Senior Research Scientist where I lead the Data Intensive Approaches team.

I apply my analytical, collaborative and multi-disciplinary skills to a wide range of interesting biological problems. Some of my current research interests are:

  • Interactions between plants and their pathogens with a focus on comparative genomics, evolution and infection mechanisms
  • Application of machine learning to protein function prediction, such as effector prediction and subcellular localization prediction
  • Achieving chromosome-scale assemblies of various species with long read sequencing and chromosome conformation capture data for spatial/temporal understanding of genome structure
  • Function of small RNAs in host-pathogen interactions and relationships between molecule structure and function

I have released several widely used software tools for effector prediction using machine learning (;, for plant and effector localization ( as well as for RNA structure prediction (; I am an accredited Software Carpentry instructor, I have taught Python in various short courses and I am passionate about reproducible and collaborative science.

Current Roles

  • Team Leader
    Data Intensive Approaches

Academic Qualifications

  • 2012

    Ph.D. in Bioinformatics
    The University of Western Australia

  • 2007

    Diplom (M. Sc.) in Computer Science
    University of Freiburg

Professional Experiences

  • 2012-2018

    Postdoctoral Fellow

Achievements and Awards

  • 2022-2026

    Julius Career Award

  • 2021-2022

    Thomas Davies Research Grant (AUD $20,000 offered to Early-and Mid-Career Researchers in the field of Marine, Soil and Plant Biology)
    Australian Academy of Sciences

  • 2020-2020

    ANU Pilot Project Award for single-cell sequencing of rust haustoria
    10x Genomics

  • 2018-2018

    Tansley Medal for excellence in Plant Science
    New Phytologist

  • 2018-2018

    INRA-CSIRO exchange scheme award

  • 2019-2022

    Discovery Early Career Researcher Award 2019 (DE190100066, AUD $362,000)
    Australian Research Council (ARC)

  • 2017-2017

    Agriculture and Food Director’s Award in the category ‘Next-Generation Talent’

  • 2017-2017

    Agriculture and Food Director’s Award in the category ‘Inclusion & Diversity’ (Team award)

  • 2009-2009

    Google Australia and New Zealand Anita Borg Finalist

  • 2008-2011

    University Postgraduate Award for International Students (UPAIS)
    The University of Western Australia

  • 2008-2011

    International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS)
    The University of Western Australia

Other highlights

  • 2021-2021

    Invited keynote speaker: HiC workshop. Genomics Aotearoa. 18-19 February 2021, New Zealand.

  • 2020-2020

    Invited keynote speaker: “From long-read sequencing to understanding genome biology: my journey in plant-pathogen interactions”. AMSI BioInfoSummer 2020, Australia.

  • 2020-2020

    Invited keynote speaker: New Phytologist Next generation scientists 2020 meeting. University of Tartu, Estonia, postponed due to COVID-19

  • 2019-2019

    Teacher for ‘Advanced Python’ in the ‘2nd Advanced Scientific Programming In Python - Asia Pacific’ course (Canberra, 20th-27th January 2019)

  • 2017-2017

    Invited speaker: Queenstown Molecular Biology satellite meeting on “Plant-Microbe Interactions”. Queenstown Research Week, 3-6 September 2017, Queenstown, New Zealand.

  • 2016-2016

    Invited speaker: IS-MPMI XVII Congress. Special session: Rust fungi – Molecular mechanisms underlying disease and resistance. 16-21 July 2016, Portland, United States.

  • 2014-2014

    Invited speaker: Australian Pathogen Bioinformatics Symposium. 2 December 2014, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

  • 2014-2014

    Invited speaker: Pawsey Petascale Bioinformatics Symposium. 10 November, 2014, Perth, Australia.

  • 2013-2013

    Invited speaker: EMBO workshop “Integrating omic approaches to host-pathogen interactions”. 25 – 28 June 2013, Liverpool, United Kingdom.

We have publications by Dr Jana Sperschneider