JULY 2020

July started with celebration … Stephanie’s birthday with amazing crystals looking cup cakes from Chris S 😉

And now as we are experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 positive cases in Victoria, we had to go back into lockdown, slow down the lab, and start wearing mask. Not all super-hero wear capes, some wear a mask, and you can make it become a fashion item and ix the colour 😉 Of course Stephanie went for a pink mask, what else she would say 😉 

Then we found some golden nuggets in our trays, and we had some amazing crystals diffracting to the edge of our Eiger detector.

Returning to the synchrotron with our beautiful crystals, which make Chris S very happy 😉

JUNE 2020

JUNE 2020

Some chocolate mud cake, Dhil’s favourite for his birthday

And in the lab, we are seeing some crystals slowly growing 😉 and we are busy in the lab and so tip boxes are filling up and down very quickly

The institute is stocking up on hand sanitiser station, stay safe and apart keep us together.

MAY 2020

Chris L practising for his 1st year confirmation, before doing a zoom confirmation. And of course passing with flying colours.

After a few weeks in lockdown, we started to work on the new SARS-cov-2 virus and trying to do our best within the large international effort. We are seeking to understand how the immune system recognise and fight the infection, important question to help us fight the virus. Andrea was working hard to grow some T cell lines.

More than ever, we need to get our flu shoot. This year

With Stage 2 restrictions now in place we are limited to 30 people on the floor. We have decided to run an AM shift and PM shift. As the saying goes  ‘Teamwork makes the dream work!’

APRIL 2020

Hannah is having fun at the FlowCore facility … trying to run an experiment on Friday night is never a great idea, but it does give very good results 😉 so all worth it.

A rare Lion was found in the lab this week 😉 Emma and Chris S discovering 3D animals on Google

You don’t have to write alone, it helps to have a writing partner to give a second opinion. Even if they don’t talk much, you’ll find that their input will get you through the long days of writing at home. Chris L writing his literature review with company from his dog Canella 😉 #WFH

Congrats to Andrea: 1st year PhD confirmation passed with flying colours

Even the 1st year PhD confirmation had to be done with zoom, which is not an easy exercise. Andrea has done a great job to explain her PhD project and also showed some amazing results 😉 a manuscript is in preparation so we will be able to share this with you all soon. Congratulations again Andrea 😉 and to her supportive supervisors Emma and Chris S. 

Well done to Stephanie: 1st lecture

Perfect timing … giving my first lecture under the social distancing rules means that I’m on my own talking in an empty theatre with all the recording equipment for students to stream the lecture live and also have access later on. A strange feeling to be alone there, but the recent research on the new coronavirus gave me the opportunity to show how structural biology can help us understand viruses, and why we need to gather more information.

Chris’ mini-series on cryoEM

As we are away from the lab bench, it’s a great time to learn a new technique, do some personal development. And this is exactly what Chris L has been doing; watching tutorials on cryoEM, and making a miniseries of presentations for our lab meeting 😉 Great to see that you can talk about cryoEM and use pictures of fantastic shoes to explain spatial & temporal coherence! Well done & looking forward to part two of the series.  

MARCH 2020

New tech takes Tea time to a new level

As we are getting used to our new tea time via zoom, jokes are coming back into our daily routine 😉 It’s a good thing for our mental health while we are limited in our capacity to leave our homes. Chris S showed us how to use “snap camera” that allows you to use filters on your camera, giving some additional humour to our meetings 😉 

Virtual birthday cake 😉

As social distancing is in place, and most of us are currently working from home, we have been lucky to have our tea time over zoom. It has helped us keep together and connected as a lab as much as we can. It can be easy to forget important personal milestones in these moments, but it is important to keep thinking about each other as often as you can. Andrea thought she could slide under the radar, but we managed to wish her a happy birthday and cut her a virtual birthday cake 😉 

COVID-19 is even in our lab talk

As we progress with March, the new-coronavirus pandemic is still hot in our minds. The research has been very active in the field and it gave a great opportunity for Andrea to give us an update on the latest results during her lab meeting presentation. 

Virtual meeting and Tea time

It is only March 2020 and this year already felt so long.

COVID-19 pandemic certainly changed the way we work worldwide with social distancing enforced.

Thanks to technology we can still be connected.

We are minimizing our day on site by reorganising our work, to allow work from home when possible, and in the lab we practiced social distance guidelines. Meanwhile, our Lab Head Stephanie just came back from France (holiday cancelled and quick return) and in self isolation for 14-days. We used Zoom for video conferencing to stay connected. We talked about what need to be done/arranged during this time regarding lab work or work from home.  

Virtual teatime with lab members. 

To keep a “normal” life as much as we can, we decided to have our regular Tea time on zoom, so we can not only talk about science or work all the time but also about our daily lives, shared jokes on Facebook to uplift motivation among us during these hard times. Today, we also discovered how to change Zoom background to brighten up our dull home office settings. Looking forward to the next Zoom meeting and explore more fun backgrounds!

Remember to keep checking on your loved ones using the technology we have for example through social media, videoconferencing or telephone. Make it fun and the conversation should not be about coronavirus all the time if the topic is distressing you/the other person. We all should do our best to flatten the curve at the same time looking after our mental health during this pandemic.


Food !

2020 is no exception to our traditional weekly lab meeting with some delicious food that is made by one of our lab member. This month Dimitra treated us with a cheese soufflé 😉 and Chris S with some amazing (and delicious) Flamingo cupcakes. Feb-Fig1

Lorne Proteins Conference

The 45th Annual Lorne Proteins Conference was held on the 9th-13th this month. Gras Lab members were very fortunate to attend as they took a break from their normal lab setting. 

It was good to see the team in full swing at the 45th annual Lorne Proteins conference. PhD students and post-Docs were in action as they conveyed both the excitement and passion they have for the science we do in the lab. Its conferences like these that give researchers the opportunity to share and ALSO learn about what’s going on in the world of proteins today.

PhD students Andrea, Chris and Hannah were in action presenting their respective projects. It’s one thing to do research in the lab, but its another skill to present the data in a way they can effectively communicate the science. Its conferences like these that gives helps researchers develop, grow and learn new ways to enhance their research. 

Dimitra quick to point out the importance of HIV-specific CD4+ T cells

Andrea glowing as she showcases her structures of human leukocyte antigens presenting immunogenic Influenza peptides 

Hannah fighting off the crowd as she shows how CD4+ T cells can recognise and fight of Influenza.
Chris L with his high energy T shirt getting ready to present his findings on high affinity T cell receptors.

Christopher with his ‘one-punch’ wonder on how we need to restore the ‘kick’ in Influenza- specific CD8+  T cells.

Everyone done a fantastic job and does the Gras Lab very proud 😉 

Shooting some crystals

It was the first time on our microfocus beamline MX2 for Hannah who has some new crystals 😉 not a bad start of the year for our new PhD student.  Feb-Fig5

Happy Birthday 

We had a double trouble birthday celebration 😉 for Chris S and David who is doing his summer scholarship with us. And we took that opportunity to have a late drink/food celebrations, where Hayden joined us 😉 

Welcome to Year 10 students

In February we had the pleasure to welcome the year 10 students from Glen Waverley school. Chris S who was a student in that school explained to the students his career from his own year 10 to his work as a research fellow in the lab today. Then we welcome the student in the lab and show them few techniques that we are doing routinely in the lab. Always a great experience to welcome young student in the lab.

Uncertain time

The start of university year is now delay due to the outbreak of coronavirus. We are now leaving in uncertain time, but Monash university and its staff are doing all their best to manage those new conditions. We are hoping to see our talented students back at uni very soon. 


Happy new year!!!!
We hope that you are all good and we are looking forward to 2020, and some amazing science and great results.

Smoky atmosphere
It was a very strange start of 2020 with bushfires ravaging the country, and the new burnt smell everywhere and some unreal sunset. Lucky Chris S was back on his “art latte” exhibition for our afternoon tea time, which was very comforting.

1st paper for the lab
We also celebrated our first paper as a new lab this is a new milestone for us. You can read our article there https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molimm.2020.02.011.

Hannah’s PhD start
After a short holiday, Hannah decided that it was time to start her PhD towards the end of January. Very happy to have her as PhD student in the lab 😉 looking forward some amazing science.

October/September last year, Bonin did Biomedical Industry Based Learning Placement in our lab. She had fun and decided to come back to Gras Lab for her Summer and Winter Vacation Research Scholarship Program on the 20th of January 2020. 

This is what she has to say about Gras Lab:

BONIN SOK, “The experience of the summer program in the Gras Lab was thrilling and extremely insightful. It really opened my eyes to the type of research-related activities that occurred within a career surrounding research and academia. I loved the intensity of the experience, particularly when I was able to work on a small project of my own to create proteins for the Gras Lab. This allowed me to gain independence as well as a real sense of purpose within the team. My favourite part, when reflecting back was when things never went as planned, as you can see by the 16 stacked, failed agar plate transformation. However, the process to unravelling why it didn’t work was most thrilling and the best learning experience. I’d like to thank the Gras Team for always making me feel included by giving my first ever set of pipettes and a personal lab bench and office desk to work with. I’m so grateful for this experience and most of all, for all the friendships formed within the lab.”

It was a pleasure to get to know you and working alongside with you. We wish you all the best in the future!