Professor Barbara Nowak is internationally renowned for her research on fish parasitology, specifically finfish. She obtained her PhD in 1991 from the University of Sydney and in 2004, obtained her DSc from the University of Agriculture in Szczecin Poland. She is currently Professor at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at University of Tasmania and Associate Dean for Research Training.
Over the course of her career, she has received >78 grants totalling $18.5 million dollars. Her research is concerned with the health of farmed fish with a focus on the interaction between host, parasites and the environment. In particular, her research is concerned with disease control and investigation of fish mortalities. The research has had a significant impact on improving aquaculture production and sustainability. For example, she led a project to develop a method to detect blood flukes in bluefin tuna, in collaboration with Japanese and Australian scientists, uncovered a new species and intermediate host, and developed a treatment solve the problem of blood flukes in the bluefin tuna industry. Her findings were adopted by the industry and reduced bluefin tuna mortality in the Australian industry from 12% to below 1%.
Professor Nowak is currently working closely with the international Atlantic salmon farming industry, seeking similar results for amoebic gill disease. Her lab has discovered the parasite that causes the disease, determined the extent of gill lesions caused by the parasite, and is developing control methods.
She is an outstanding PhD supervisor with >43 PhD and 3 Masters completions and is currently supervising 8 PhD students and 1 Masters student. In the last five years, four of her students were awarded the Rob Lewis Medal and recognised as giving the best presentations at international conferences.
Her research standing in the international community is evidenced by Membership of the several Journal Editorial boards; Editorial Board, Acta Ichtyologica et Piscatoria (2001 to present), PeerJ (2014 – present), Associate Editor, Journal of Aquatic Animal Health (2002 – 2012), Member of Editorial Board, Journal of Fish Diseases (2005 – 2014) and Associate Editor, Journal of Fish Diseases (2015 – 2016).
She is also Project advisor/member of the steering committee for:
ADIOS Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine Ireland 2017- 2019
Functional Annotation of Salmonid Genomes (FAASG) 2016-date
MBIE Feed Efficient Salmon (New Zealand) 2016-2021
Gill Health Initiative 2013-present
Genomics in Lice and Salmon (GiLS) BC Genome Canada project 2008 – 2010
Professor Nowak is sought after as a conference speaker, invited to give keynote presentations around three times per year and has been an invited speaker at >16 international conferences.
Professor Nowak strives to promote Australia as a centre for parasite research and foster international scientific interaction. In 2006, Professor Nowak successfully applied for ARC/NHMRC Research Network for Parasitology funding for a Researcher Exchange for Prof Iva Dyková at the Academy of Sciences in the Czech Republic to visit the University of Tasmania to do research on Neoparamoeba spp. and run a short training workshop for researchers and PhD students. In 2007, Professor Nowak won an ARC/NHMRC Research Network for Parasitology Award for a Researcher Exchange to visit the Pacific Biological Station in Canada and salmon farms on the Pacific Coast of Canada and the USA.
In addition to her scientific contributions to the field of Parasitology, Professor Nowak has worked tirelessly for the ASP. Before joining the ASP in 2006, Professor Nowak helped to organise the 2002 ASP Annual Conference which was held in Hobart. She was invited to give a keynote presentation at the 2006 ASP Annual Conference and was co-chair of the 2012 ASP Annual Conference held in Launceston. Professor Nowak became the ASP Tasmanian State Representative from 2006 to 2009 and from 2016 until the present. Under the ASP banner, Professor Nowak continuously strives to promote parasitology to the public and to the local scientific community. Professor Nowak has run regular parasitology events for the parasitology community to promote parasitology research and to attract new ASP members from Tasmania and is the driving force behind this strong ASP presence. Since 2013, Professor Nowak has run annual Fish Histopathology workshops that showcase ASP student parasitology research to an audience of veterinarians, pathologists, university lecturers, researchers, students and government agency workers. Professor Nowak and her team at the University of Tasmania have organised annual ASP state outreach events since 2013 as part of University of Tasmania and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies Open Days and National Science Week, they have also participated in ASP 2012 Inspiring Australia events and the Royal Society of Tasmania 2013 National Science Week events. The annual Open Day “Parasitology for Kids” events targeted young future scientists and accompanying adults who were encouraged to make their own parasites with craft material and look at real fish parasites under the microscope.
In view of her outstanding contributions to science, parasitology and the Society, Barbara Nowak is an extremely worthy recipient of the title, Fellow of the Australian Society for Parasitology.