• The University of Western Australia (M084), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Although I've worked with a diverse array of species and systems, a common theme is an interest in understanding how evolutionary forces and population dynamics shape genetic variation within natural populations, with a focus on conservation. Currently I am a NESP (National Environmental Science Program) Threatened Species Recovery Hub Research Fellow with the Mitchell lab in the School of Biological Sciences, and until 2019 I held a co-appointment with Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research Crown Research Institute in New Zealand (https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/home).

My work at UWA has focused on describing contemporary genetic diversity within threatened species and building this data into population viability models to enable informed decision making around species translocations. This allows estimates of not just the probability of survival of translocated populations, but also how much source population genetic variation is captured, and projects how well that genetic diversity is retained into future generations. I work closely with WA’s Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy NGO. Target species have included the banded hare wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus), the western barred bandicoot (Perameles bougainville), the dibbler (Parantechinus apicalis) and the Shark Bay mouse (Pseudomys fieldi) – all chosen for DBCA’s ‘Dirk Hartog Island: Return to 1616’ project. My current project is genomics-based and uses tens of thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to understand the genetic diversity within the western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) with the specific aims of understanding how variation is partitioned across the remnant range, assessing impacts of recent population crashes and associating environmental variables with existing genetic variation.

My role within the Biodiversity and Conservation Team at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research in New Zealand, as a population geneticist and bioinformatician, saw me involved with the molecular component of a 4 year MBIE funded Research Programme on kiwi rescue which includes developing a non-invasive genetic approach for population monitoring of kiwi (Apteryx spp.) from microsatellite data. Other projects included quantifying population bottlenecks and estimating allele retention in translocated populations of Cook Strait giant weta, and the genetic delimitation of taxa within New Zealand land snails. My genomics based work helped reveal population connectivity in the Galaxias maculatus fish species complex using SNPs data generated from genome complexity reduction techniques (i.e. genotype-by-sequencing), and I have worked extensively on the discovery of viral aetiological agents of wildlife disease using de novo metagenomcis, mostly in endangered New Zealand birds, e.g., kākāpō and rowi kiwi. I’ve also assembled and annotated the NZ common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) transcriptome as part of the ‘Achilles Heel’ project – which aims to find good candidate genes for gene silencing for control of this invasive species. Such work often relies on bash scripting to link perl and python programs.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Human Genetics, PhD, Evolutionary History of a South American Population Isolate and the Genetic Basis of a Complex Neuropsychiatric Trait, University College London

Oct 2001Jun 2005

Award Date: 30 Jan 2006

Population and Quantitative Genetics, MSc by Research, Investigation and Characterisation of a Hypervariable Fragment of Control Region mtDNA in 7 Species of Suiforme, University of Edinburgh

Oct 1999Sept 2000

Award Date: 31 Oct 2000

Zoology, BSc Honours , Mapping accumulated deleterious alleles on the neo-Y chromosome of Drosophila americana americana using urate oxidase, University of Edinburgh

Oct 1994Sept 1998

Award Date: 30 Sept 1998

External positions

Population Geneticist and Bioinformatician, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research

Nov 2011 → …

Research expertise keywords

  • population and evolutionary genetics
  • conservation genetics and wildlife ecology
  • molecular ecology
  • bioinformatics
  • computer simulations


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