The APCOP-V Organising Committee is excited to announce the following invited speakers who have kindly accepted our invitation. This list remains provisional until all travel plans for the speakers have been confirmed closer to the event.

Mark Ragan

Emeritus Professor
The University of Queensland, Australia

Mark was a pioneer of the use of 18S rRNA sequences to infer algal phylogeny. He is a co-author of A Biochemical Phylogeny of the Protists (Academic Press, 1978) and of numerous peer-reviewed articles on protists, marine algae, genome-scale bioinformatics, and phylogenetic inference in journals including Cell, Nature, Nature Microbiology, Nature Communications, and PNAS. He is a former president and an honorary life member of the International Seaweed Association, a former president of the International Society for Evolutionary Protistology, and a Fellow of the Linnean Society. More recently, Mark authored the book “Kingdoms, Empires, and Domains: The History of High-Level Biological Classification” (Oxford University Press, 2023).

Professor
University of Technology Sydney, Australia

Shauna is leading marine protistologist with a keen interest in the ecology and evolution of phytoplankton, specialising in harmful algal blooms. As the leader of Seafood Safety: Marine Algal Biotoxins research program at the University of Technology Sydney, Shauna leads a team to develop novel genetic tools for the monitoring of marine water quality, and implementing them across important aquaculture and fishing industries. She works closely with industries and government such as shellfish aquaculture, fisheries, food safety regulators, and the environmental biotechnology sector. She is also the Chief Editor for the newly launched journal, Frontiers in Protistology.

Distinguished Professor
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, USA

Debashish is an internationally acknowledged authority in the genomics and evolution of algae and protists. His earlier works established the origins and molecular timeline of diverse photosynthetic lineages in the eukaryotic Tree of Life. Together with Professor Hwan Su Yoon (Sungkyunkwan University), they pioneered single-cell genomics of protist from the marine environment (Science, 2011). Debashish has authored >300 peer-reviewed publications in areas of endosymbiosis, origin of plastids, algal and protist genomics, encompassing a broad range of ecosystems ranging from tropical coral reefs to the extreme environments such as hot springs, volcanic vents, and sea ice in polar regions. He was recently awarded the prestigious Meischer-Ishida Prize (2021/22) for his contributions in advancing our understanding of the evolution of photosynthetic eukaryotes.

Professor
Heinrich Heine Universität, Düsseldorf, Germany

Eva is a leading expert in endosymbiosis and the evolution of organelles in protists. Her group has a longstanding interest in the use of photosynthetic amoeba Paulinella chromatophora and the trypanosomatid Angomonas deanei as model systems to investigate the molecular mechanisms that underpin the interaction of the eukaryote host with bacterial endosymbionts, and the transformation of the symbionts into genetically integrated organelles. Eva has published in various high-impact journals including PNAS, Current Biology, and Nature Ecology & Evolution. In 2018, Eva’s excellence as an early-career scientist was recognised by the prestigious Heinz Maier Leibnitz Prize awarded by the German Research Foundation and the Germany Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Eva currently leads the Institute of Molecular Cell Biology at HHU Düsseldorf.

Professor, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science
The University of Melbourne, Australia

Geoff is a is a leading expert in the evolution of plastid and protists, particularly of the malaria parasites, the apicomplexans. His research identified the relict chloroplast in apicomplexans, elucidating its function and how this relict chloroplast can be targeted with antimalarial drugs. Geoff has authored >210 peer-reviewed publications, many in high profile journals such as Nature, Science, EMBO Journal, and PNAS. He has won many awards and accolades, including the prestigious Meischer-Ishida Prize (2001/02) for his discovery of nucleomorphs and research in plastid evolution. Geoff is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Project Assistant Professor and Postdoc (WPI-Bio2Q)
Keio University, Japan

Therese is an early-career researcher specialising in transposon biology and epigenetics. Her research interests include the role of small RNAs and histone modifications in DNA elimination in ciliates, with a particular emphasis on H3K27me3 and H3K9me3 during sexual development in Paramecium tetraurelia. Her PhD work has been published in several high-impact journals, including Cell Reports, EMBO Journal and Trends in Genetics, and she was recently awarded the Dr. Lutz Zwillenberg Prize by the University of Bern in recognition of her work. She is currently a Project Assistant Professor at Keio University and a Postdoc at the recently established WPI-Bio2Q Center as part of the Siomi Laboratory.

Professor
Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea

Hwan Su is the pioneer of single-cell genomics in studying protists from the marine environment (Science, 2011). His research interests include eukaryotic biodiversity, phylogeny, and genome evolution, with a focus on red algae and red algal plastid descendants (e.g., the cryptophytes, haptophytes, stramenopiles, and dinoflagellates). Hwan Su has published >130 peer-reviewed publications on the genomics and evolution of both micro- and macroalgae, including in high-impact outlets such as Science, Nature Ecology & Evolution, and Nature Communications. Hwan Su’s earlier work established the molecular timeline for the origin of photosynthetic eukaryotes; this landmark 2004 Molecular Biology & Evolution paper (cited >1000 times) is featured in the MBE Golden Citation Classics list. He is the President of the Organising Committee for the 16th International Congress of Protistology (joint ICOP/ISOP Conference) in Seoul, June 2025.

Senior Lecturer
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

Alexandra is an award-winning marine ecologist who combines field ecology with environmental microbiology, natural products chemistry and environmental science to answer questions about how environmental change influences interactions between important marine organisms and the things that consume, infect or live on them. Her research interest is in the macro-micro interactions and how these influence host health and ecosystem function. She is passionate about ecological conservation and restoration, how human health and wellbeing are linked to ecosystem function in the marine realm, and effective science communication for nature conservation. Alex drove the Operation Crayweed to restore Sydney’s seaweed forests, for which she won the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Primary Industry’s Environmental Research Eureka Award (2017), and the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage’s Green Globe Award (2017).

Professor
University of Science and Technology of China, China

Xiaoyuan is a leader in the development of ciliates as a model protist system. She received her PhD from the University of Rochester, USA, and underwent postdoctoral training at the University of California San Diego, at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She joined the School of Life Sciences at the University of Science and Technology of China in 2012. Xiaoyuan has a strong research interest in the epigenetic regulation of gene transcription, particularly the role and mechanism of three-dimensional (3D) transcription regulation involving long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) and 3D genome structures. Her groundbreaking research revealed high-order chromatin organisation in the macronucleus and micronucleus chromosomes of the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila. She has published in high-impact journal outlets including Nature, Cell, PNAS, and Genome Research. She is appointed the Group Head of a National Key Scientific Program of China, and in charge of several major projects.

Science Group Manager for Molecular and Algal Ecology
Cawthron Institute, New Zealand

Kirsty is a marine ecologist specialising in phytoplankton community dynamics, harmful algal blooms, marine invertebrates and invasive species. She has expertise in a wide range of molecular techniques for characterising biodiversity and understanding adaptation in marine organisms, including the use of qPCR/ddPCR, metabarcoding, whole transcriptome sequencing and epigenetics. Her current research focuses on understanding the impact of climate change on phytoplankton communities, including harmful algae. She currently co-leads both the Safe New Zealand Seafood Research Platform, and the nationally significant Cawthron Institute Culture Collection of Microalgae, both funded by the Stategic Science Investment Fund by the New Zealand Government. Kirsty is the Specialty Chief Editor for Marine and Freshwater Harmful Algae and Protists for the newly launched journal, Frontiers in Protistology.