Staffan Kjelleberg

Contact details:
(+61 2) 9385 2102
(+61 2) 9385 2102

Room: 317, Biological Sciences

Professor Staffan Kjelleberg’s main research focus has been to understand bacterial adaptive responses and how bacteria organise themselves in complex biofilm consortia. Outcomes of this research, conducted over the past 30 years, have led to improved understanding of bacterial starvation and stress responses, including risk assessment and biological containment of deliberate release of genetically modified organisms.

Prof. Kjelleberg’s research, in collaboration with Prof. Peter Steinberg led to the establishment of the internationally recognized Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation for basic and applied science on signaling biology, interactions between bacteria and higher organisms, and genomics-mediated understanding of complex biofilms in ecology and applications. Further, the Environmental Microbiology Initiative (EMI) – jointly established with Professors Ric Cavicchioli and Brett Neilan – has built excellence in environmental genomics as applied to environmental health and sustainability.

Prof. Kjelleberg’s readiness for collaborative, interdisciplinary research has led to entry in the Asian arena with the establishment of the Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering, using biofilm knowledge and technology to ensure the supply of clean water, a sustainable environment, and human health.


At the University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia 

2003 – present            UNSW Scientia Professor

2007 – present            Co-Director, Environmental Microbiology Initiative, UNSW

1994 – present            Director, Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation (previously Centre for Marine Biofouling and Bio-Innovation)

1994 – present            Professor, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences (previously named School of Microbiology and Immunology)

1999 – 2006                Research Director, Biosignal Pty Ltd

1998 – 2000                Head of School of Microbiology and Immunology

1981 – 1982                Research Fellow

At Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

2010 – present     Director, Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering

2008 – present     Visiting Professor

At the University of Göteborg (Sweden)

1987 – 1993         Professor and Chairman, Department of General Marine Microbiology

1983 – 1986         Researcher, Swedish Natural Science Research Council

1975 – 1980         Assistant Lecturer and Research Associate



Member of the Editorial Board of International Journals:

Member of the Editorial Board of:  Ophelia (1989-); Journal Biologia (General Biology Section) (1994-); Environmental Microbiology(2000-); Applied and Environmental Microbiology (1985-1995, 2005-); Microbes and Environments (2005-); ISME Journal (2006-); Microbial Biotechnology (2007); Molecular Marine Biology & Biotechnology (1991-2000); FEMS Microbiology Reviews (1987-2000); Microbiology (1993-1999); Journal of Microbiological Methods (1984-1990)

Editor of International Journals

Editor of:  FEMS Microbiology Reviews (2010-); Aquatic Microbial Ecology (2005-); Microbes and Environments (regional editor)(2008 -); FEMS Microbiology Ecology (1988–2004); Current Opinion in Biotechnology (Environmental Biotechnology Section (2002)

Editor of International Books

Editor of: “The Biofilm Mode of Life – Mechanisms and Adaptations” Monograph published by Horizon Scientific Press, 2007; “Biofouling: Problems and Solutions” Symposium Proceedings published by UNSW press 1994, ISBN# 0 7334 0912 1; “Starvation in Bacteria” Monograph published by Plenum Publishing Corp. 1993; “Nutrient Limitation: Global Responses and Prokaryotic Development” Symposium issue of FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 74:1243, 1990


  • Scientia Professor, University of New South Wales
  • Elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science
  • Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology
  • Vice President and President of the International Society of Microbial Ecology (ISME)
  • Member of the Executive Committee of ISME
  • President of the Swedish Society of Microbiology
  • Division Lecturer of the American Society of Microbiology
  • Rubbo Orator of the Australian Society of Microbiology
  • Honorary Fellow of the Australian Society of Microbiology
  • Visiting Research Fellow of The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
  • Skerman Lecture Award from the University of Queensland


  • Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board, Biosignal Pty Ltd (2006-2008)
  • Research Director, Biosignal Ltd (2004-2006)
  • Vice President (2001-2003) and President (2004-2006) of the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME)
  • Executive Organising Committee Member for ISME-10 (2004), ISME-11 (2006), ISME-12 (2008), and ISME-13 (2010)
  • Co-founder of The ISME Journal
  • Co-director of the Environmental Microbiology Initiative at UNSW (2007)
  • Member of the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee of the Federal Government of Australia (1994-1999)
  • Organiser of the international workshop on “Marine Biofouling: Problems and Solutions”, Sydney Australia, (1994)
  • Chairman of the National Swedish Environmental Protection Board program committee “Risk assessment of genetically modified organisms” (1990-1993)
  • Principal organiser of four Annual Meetings of the Swedish Society of Microbiology
  • Organiser of the international symposium on “Nutrient Limitation: Global Responses and Prokaryotic Development”, Göteborg, Sweden, (1990)
  • Chairman of the second Gordon Conference on Molecular Mechanisms of Microbial Adhesion, Newport RI (1989)
  • Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science Committee of Biology (1991-1993) and Oceanography (1987-1993)
  • President of the Swedish Society of Microbiology (1987-1992)
  • Member of scientific committees of several international microbiology conferences
  • Consultant for several biotechnology companies and industries