Howitt Group - Transporter structure and function

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.

Group Leader

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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

Susan Howitt in the lab

Susan Howitt feature - International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Story | Tuesday 11 February 2020
Professor Susan Howitt reflects on being a scientist
Architectural representation of a carboxysome on the windows of the RSB Linnaeus building


Story | Thursday 13 April 2017
Carboxysomes are polyhedral protein micro-compartments in cyanobacteria which concentrate CO2 and increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. In 1993, RSBS researchers Dean Price, Murray Badger and Susan Howitt determined the genetic sequence encoding for the proteins that form the protein shell of a carboxysome.

ANU-UC agreement to open doors for health students

Story | Thursday 1 September 2016

Academic promotions: Level E Professor

Story | Monday 2 February 2015
Congratulations to the six RSB members who have been promoted to Level E Professor as of 1 January 2015.

Towards turbocharged photosynthesis

Story | Tuesday 23 September 2014
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.

Susan Howitt appointed as a Tuckwell Fellow

Story | Thursday 23 May 2013

Piezo channels: tension, tethers and transduction

Event | Thu 26 July 2018

Mechanosensitive channels are fundamental molecular components of mechanosensory systems in all organisms.

Simulation of Thermally and Light-Induced DNA Damage

Event | Thu 15 March 2018

DNA is the target biomolecule of many anticancer drugs because DNA replication is one of the most vulnerable cellular process.

What does a local anaesthetic and a medication for epilepsy have in common?

Event | Thu 15 March 2018

Voltage-gated sodium channels are integral in electrical signaling within the human body and are key targets for anesthetics and antiepileptic comp