Dear Frank,

it’s been a year since you left us and we dearly miss you – we always will. You have been an inspiration for so many. Your legacy continues…

I recently received a letter from Dr Dave Williams from CSIRO and a an e-mail from Andrew Bissett, who worked with you on the Biomes of Australian Soils (BASE) project.

The Biomes of Australian Soil Environments Team has recently been awarded. The e-mail stated:

“We were awarded a DNFC collaboration award recognising the BASE initiative for its work in coordinating the efforts of Australia’s soil researchers to produce a national scale soil microbial database. As Frank contributed substantially to the success of the project he was named on the award.”

Dr Williams said in his letter “This award recognises those teams or individuals who demonstrate increased flexibility and enhancement of Australia’s innovation performance through the mobility the exchange of people and knowledge.

I commend the team’s efforts to characterise the diversity, abundance, distribution and function of Australia’s unique soil microbiome through genomic analysis of 20+ billion DNA sequences from over 1500 field sites and delivered a National Framework Soil Microbial Dataset as a research infrastructure resource.

I am proud to be able to acknowledge this significant piece of work and the teams contribution and collaborative effort.”

I know, you were very passionate about the project and Andrew said, he was very happy to have you in his team.

I will try get the group together to discuss how we can take your work forward to the next stage.

With love, your companion Tina

Vale Frank Reith



(11.06.1972 – 14.10.2019)


A life well lived


Frank loved science, discovering new places, gold, wine, photography, the ocean and above all, his wife Tina.


An adventurer at heart, Frank wanted to dive into the unknown, take risks, and push limits. Always wanting to see what is over the next hill, he had a genuine passion for taking others on this journey. Frank wanted to build bridges with people from all backgrounds, fields and cultures, and help them see and share in what he himself found so fascinating about the world.


He had strong views and a willingness to express them but was always fair. He wanted to work with friends, sharing the joy of science and discovery.


On a personal level he loved Dr Who, the ultimate adventurer, being able to travel to any place and any time. Like the famous Dr, Frank discovered he worked best with a Companion. Someone wanting to explore the world but who was there to pull him back from the ‘cliff edges’ he would naturally try to lean over. Caught up by blue eyes and a shared passion for exploration Tina became Frank’s Companion, moving to Australia to be with him. For eight years they went on adventures, Tina becoming the secret ‘social weapon’ in building those bridges between academia and the broader world.


As with all adventures, at times the path can take you in unexpected directions. Sometimes you can’t choose to see what’s over the next hill but have to follow the path laid before you. For Frank and Tina, this came with a few simple words – ­an unexpected diagnosis.


Frank died peacefully at home after an extended battle with pancreatic cancer, surrounded by the mementos of his adventures and his ever-loving Companion.


Frank wanted a life well lived, to explore and share discoveries. Whilst this life was cut too short the impact on the lives of those who knew him, loved him and will miss him prove that he did indeed have a life well lived.




Frank’s wish was not to have a funeral but rather a private cremation.


Instead Frank wanted a celebration of his life well lived.


The timing and venue of this celebration is still to be determined.


Details will be posted on this blog when they become available.


As an environmentalist Frank has asked that, if people wanted to, rather than send flowers to instead make a private donation to the Sea Shepard organisation: https://www.seashepherd.org.au


For those who know Steve Rogers, he has kindly dedicated his Movember fundraising to Frank and pancreatic cancer research.  Feel free to support his fundraising: https://au.movember.com/search/?q=steve%20rogers




Recent publications this past year

FinlandChapter 6 Applications of Scanning Electron Microscopy in GeomicrobiologyChapter 7 Applications of Transmission Electron Microscopy in GeomicrobiologyRea et al., 2018Reith et al., 2019 (annals of botany)Reith et al., 2019Sanyal et al., 2019Shar et al., 2019