Howitt Group - Transporter structure and function

DNA and keyboard

We are interested in how transporters function and we aim to understand their molecular mechanisms. We are using heterologous expression systems to characterize transporters and mutant variants that have been generated by site-directed mutagenesis or random methods. This allows us to test hypotheses about which regions of the transporter are important for function.

We are also interested in science education, especially in student perceptions of research and how this impacts on their learning of science.



Susan Howitt

Susan Howitt
Professor Susan Howitt completed her PhD at ANU, working on the genetics of symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria. She then...

Honours Student

Masters Student

PhD Student

Senior Research Officer

Visiting Fellow



Selected publications


  • Howitt SM and Wilson AN. Developing, expressing and contesting opinions of science: encouraging the student voice.  Higher Education Research and Development. 34:541-553
  • Wilson AN, Howitt SM, Higgins DM and Roberts PJ.  (2015) Making Critical Thinking Visible in Undergraduates’ Experiences of Scientific Research.  In ‘Critical Thinking in Higher Education’, eds M. Davies and R. Barnett. Palgrave MacMillan. 491-508.
  • 2014
  • Howitt SM and Wilson AN.  Revisiting ‘Is the scientific paper a fraud?’  EMBO Reports.15: 481-484
  • Price GD and Howitt SM (2014) Topology mapping to characterize cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporters: BicA (SulP/SLC26 family) and SbtA. Molecular Membrane Biology. 31:177-182
  • Du J, Förster B, Rourke L, Howitt SM, Price GD. (2014) Characterisation of cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporters in E. coli shows that SbtA homologs are functional in this heterologous expression system. PLoS One
  • GD Price and SM Howitt (2014) Plant Science: Towards turbocharged photosynthesis Nature 513:497-498


  • Wilson A., SM. Howitt, G. Åkerlind, P. Roberts, K. Wilson. (2013) Connecting expectations and experiences of students in a research immersive degree. Studies in Higher Education. 38: 1562-76


  • Wilson A., SM. Howitt, K. Wilson, P. Roberts. (2012). Academics' perceptions of the purpose of undergraduate research experiences in a research-intensive degree. Studies in Higher Education: 37: 513-52
  • Price GD, Pengelly JJ, Forster B, Du J, Whitney SM, von Caemmerer S, Badger MR, Howitt SM, Evans JR. (2012) The cyanobacterial CCM as a source of genes for improving photosynthetic CO2 fixation in crop species. J Exp Bot. 64: 753-68
  • Seymour VA, Curmi JP, Howitt SM, Casarotto MG, Laver DR, Tierney ML.(2012) Selective modulation of different GABAA receptor isoforms by diazepam and etomidate in hippocampal neurons. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 44(9):1491-500
  • Wilson A and Howitt SM (2012) Is more always better? An Australian experiment with a research-intensive undergraduate degree. Council of Undergraduate Research Quarterly. 33: 28-33


  • Price GD and Howitt SM (2011) The cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporter BicA: its physiological role and the implications of structural similarities with human SLC26 transporters. Biochem Cell Biol. 89(2):178-88
  • Price GD, Shelden MC, Howitt SM (2011) Membrane topology of the cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporter, SbtA, and identification of potential regulatory loops. Mol. Memb. Biol 28(5):265-75.


  • Shelden MC, Howitt SM and Price GD (2010) Membrane topology of the cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporter, BicA, a member of the SulP (SLC26A) family Mol Memb Biol 27: 12-23
  • SM Howitt, AN Wilson, KF Wilson and P Roberts (2010) “Please remember we are not all brilliant:” undergraduates' experiences of an elite, research-intensive degree at a research-intensive university . HERD 29: 405-420
  • Gruber BD, Ryan PR, Richardson AE, Tyerman SD, Ramesh S, Hebb DM, Howitt SM, Delhaize E. (2010) HvALMT1 from barley is involved in the transport of organic anions.J Exp Bot. 61:1455-67
  • Henry RI, Cobbold SA, Allen RJ, Khan A, Hayward R, Lehane AM, Bray PG, Howitt SM, Biagini GA, Saliba KJ, Kirk K. (2010) An acid-loading chloride transport pathway in the intraerythrocytic malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. J Biol Chem. 285(24):18615-26.

All publications

News & events


A new joint initiative between The Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Canberra (UC) will open a new career door for health students.
Congratulations to the six RSB members who have been promoted to Level E Professor as of 1 January 2015.
Study species, the Tobacco plant
It has been proposed that cyanobacteria — which obtain their energy from a highly efficient form of photosynthesis — might hold the key to increasing the yield of our most important crops and vegetables.
Professor Rice and Associate Professor Howitt
The Australian National University (ANU) Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington today announced the appointment of three fellows to mentor the Tuckwell Scholars when



Photosynthesis is an essential process that involves using sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar molecules and oxygen.

Updated:  19 November 2019/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB/Page Contact:  Webmaster RSB