Dr Matthew Baker

Scientia Research Fellow
4102, L4 West, Bioscience South E26
(+61 2) 9385 1255
(+612) 9385 1483

Lab website:

Professional Experience

2018-2021: UNSW Scientia Research Fellow, School of BABS
2017-2018: Lecturer, School of BABS
2013-2016: Postdoctoral Researcher, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute/UNSW
2010-2013: Postdoctoral Researcher, Chemistry Research Laboratory & Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford
2011-2013: Community Manager, Colwiz Research

Research Contribution

I completed my PhD at Oxford University as a John Monash Scholar studying the bacterial flagellar motor that makes nearly all bacteria swim. Subsequently, I investigated protein transport, in particular the bacterial twin arginine transporter (TAT) using cell imaging and artificial bilayer systems. I recently demonstrated the novel domain-swap mechanism for rotor assembly (NSMB 2016), and have focused primarily on how simple subunit interactions govern assembly of complex architectures, including the filament (eLife 2017). The next question is how this complexity emerged. To begin addressing this, my group at UNSW looks at how ion selectivity changes using directed evolution to examine the evolutionary landscape that constrains the adaptation of the motor.

I also investigate force-sensitive proteins that change confirmation to activate ion channels. These are essential at all scales of life, in bacteria to respond to osmotic shock and in mammals in the sense of touch and hearing, and they are involved in cancer progression and arthritis. This is in collaboration with Professor Boris Martinac of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Dr Kate Poole within the School of Medicine at UNSW, and A/Professor Bailong Xiao at Tsinghua University.

I also have a love of radio and a background in science-communication, and was selected as a 'Top 5 Under 40' Scientist in Residence at the ABC in 2015. Since then, I have been the regular science presenter on Nightlife, which is broadcast on ABC Local across Australia, and have produced content for the Health Report, Science Show, Saturday Extra and Earshot on ABC's Radio National. I have also applied my biophysical skills to data journalism, selected as Australia's inaugural Google Newslab Fellow in 2016 embedded at The Sydney Morning Herald.

Honours & Awards

2017: Young Tall Poppy Science Award NSW
2016: Young Investigator Award – Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Annual Meeting
2016: Google News Lab Fellowship – Sole Australian Fellow
2015: Delegate to Australia-China Youth Dialogue
2015: Top 5 Under 40 Winner – ABC/UNSW fellowship to ‘discover Australia’s new generation of science thinkers’
2015: Robert M Macnab Memorial Travel Award to speak at BLAST XIII in Tucson, Arizona
2014: France-Australia Science Innovation Collaboration Early Career Fellowship
2005-2009: John Monash Scholar

Active Research Projects


Click here for Dr Baker's publications list