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All Team Members

Professor Erica Donner

Research Director

“If you're interested in systems thinking, One Health AMR is just about the most perfect topic you can choose. It unravels in all different directions – everything is magnificently interlinked, in the most fascinating and alarming ways.”


Professor Erica Donner is an interdisciplinary environmental scientist and the Research Director of SAAFE CRC. With expertise in chemical and microbiological risk assessment, as well as systems-based contaminants analysis, Erica is particularly interested in managing antimicrobial resistance risks in the water cycle, organic waste, and food production systems.

Erica describes her entry into AMR research as “roundabout”. While working on the environmental risk assessment of engineered nanosilver with an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship grant, she became interested in the common claim that microorganisms couldn’t become resistant to silver – which she knew not to be true.

Curious to see whether this was leading to an increase in silver resistance in environments receiving nanosilver-contaminated water, she observed an increase in other types of antimicrobial resistance in lab experiments with silver and other metals. And with that, she was hooked. Erica developed a grant with SA Water and SA Health, which focused on the risk assessment of AMR in wastewater. The rest, as they say, is history.

Erica joined the University of South Australia in 2009. She was appointed as Associate Research Professor and Research Leader of the University’s Future Industries Institute in 2015, before being promoted to Research Professor in 2019.

Here, she led a portfolio of industry-partnered research projects with a focus on the assessment and management of chemical and microbiological risks in water, wastewater and food production systems; wastewater-based epidemiology for infectious disease surveillance; and One Health AMR. It was these activities that culminated in Erica leading the bid to establish SAAFE CRC.

Today, she leads our national consortium of researchers working together with industry and government partners to co-design, develop and implement best practice solutions to tackle the complex threat of AMR.

Erica’s other notable positions include: Australian Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (ASTAG) member; Steering Committee member and Chair of the Communications and Education Sub-committee for the South Australian AMR Action Plan (SAAMRAP); Co-Lead of the Food, Soil and Water Security Theme in the NHMRC-funded Health Environments and Lives (HEAL) network.