Dr Camilla Whittington

My research aims to understand the genetic basis of complex evolutionary innovations. Evolutionary innovations like eyes, wings, venom, and live-birth are dramatic, game-changing novelties that are responsible for much of the Earth’s animal diversity. However, their origins are poorly understood because they are produced by the collective action and evolution of thousands of genes. By applying molecular technologies and physiological methods to a targeted range of animals, my work aims to elucidate the multifaceted genetic underpinnings of evolutionary innovations and to discover fundamental evolutionary mechanisms. My interests encompass evolutionary biology, genetics and genomics, physiology, animal behaviour, and conservation.

A list of my publications can be found here. Follow me on ResearchGate, @Camilla_Whitt and Google Scholar.

Emeritus Professor Mike Thompson

The main focus of my research has been on reproduction in reptiles, with a particular emphasis on the physiology and ecology of eggs and embryos. I have studied eggs of all the major groups of reptiles in the world and have recently been studying viviparous species. My current research is concerned mainly with the evolution of viviparity (live birth) using lizards as the model. I combine physiology, anatomy and molecular biology to understand the evolution of viviparity across a range of species that have different placental complexities. Other recent projects in the lab include reproduction in shovel-nosed rays, the physiology and ecology of invasive lizards, sex determination in lizards, physiological ecology of flat rock spiders and feeding behaviour in desert lizards.

A list of my publications can be found here. Follow me on ResearchGate and Google Scholar.

Dr Charles Foster

Research Associate

Charles studies big questions in evolutionary biology. His research to date has focused on key questions in angiosperm evolution. He now uses proteomic and transcriptomic data to research the evolution of viviparity and the placenta. Charles is also passionate about cricket, and is happy to discuss the evolution of the Australian Cricket team. Follow him on Twitter @theCFos.

Dr Jessica Dudley

Research Associate

Jess is studying the biology of pregnancy in mammal and seahorses. Follow her on Twitter @jess_s_dudley

Jacquie Herbert

Research Assistant

Jacquie has the unenviable task of managing the lab and wrangling its inhabitants. She is also talented photographer and took many of the photos featured on this website.

Claudia Santori

PhD Student

Claudia is a biologist very passionate about biodiversity conservation. She is investigating the many threats to the three turtle species living in the Murray river, amazing animals which have been greatly declining in the last few decades. Claudia is very interested in alternative conservation strategies such as citizen science, and the use of GIS technology for conservation purposes. You can follow her on Twitter @claudia_santori

Alice Buddle

PhD Student

Deirdre Merry

PhD Student (UTas)

Deirdre is studying pregnancy and birth in Egernia group skinks, and is co-supervised with Dr Geoff While at UTas. Follow her on Twitter @Dei_Merry.

Alice is studying the evolution of pregnancy in Australian sharks, with a focus on morphology and physiology.

Zoe Skalkos

Research Assistant

Zoe completed her honours in the lab studying seahorse pregnancy, cosupervised by Dr James Van Dyke. She discovered the first experimental evidence of nutrient transport from seahorse dad to babies. Zoe is now a Research Assistant helping to make sure all our science runs smoothly.pregnancy using histological techniques. Follow her on Twitter @ZoeSkalkos.

Stephanie Liang

Honours student

Stephanie is researching the genetics of viviparity in what is possibly the world's weirdest lizard- the three-toed skink. Follow her on Twitter here @StephanieLiang_

Vertina Teh

Honours student

Vertina is studying seahorse pregnancy using histological techniques.

Lab Alumni

Dr James Van Dyke

Postdoctoral Fellow

Van is now a Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University, and is a close collaborator. Follow him on Twitter @JamesUVanDyke, and visit his website here.

Dr Henrique Braz

Postdoctoral Fellow

Henrique is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Butantan Institute (São Paulo, Brazil). He has a broad interest in the reproductive biology of squamate reptiles. His research focuses on topics as the evolution of viviparity, reproductive cycles, nest-site selection, and life history. Follow Henrique on Twitter @Braz_HB and visit his website here.

Dr Sadequr Rahman

PhD (2020)

Sadeq is researching the evolution of viviparity in sea stars by studying the morphological, physiological and genetic basis of viviparity in Australian species. His broad field of interest is in the evolutionary biology of diverse marine animals. He is now an Assistant Professor at Chittagong University.

Dr Nicky Rollings

PhD (2019)

Nicky is an evolutionary biologist with a focus on life history strategies and telomeres. Through studying dragons and snakes, Nicky seeks to determine the effects that telomeres have at a cellular level all the way to the evolution of species. She is now working in industry.

Dr Melanie Laird

PhD (2018)

Mel's PhD work investigated how the marsupial uterus prepares for pregnancy. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Otago.

Dr Oliver Griffith

PhD (2015)

Oliver's PhD was supervised by Mike Thompson, and he is a current collaborator. He is now a Lecturer at Macquarie University working on the evolution of amniote pregnancy for his DECRA research.

Monty Oldroyd

Honours I (2018)

Monty's project centred on the evolution of reptile pregnancy using transcriptomics. He is now undertaking further training in computational analysis.

Polly Hannaford

Honours I (2018)

Polly's project focused on respiratory gas supply to viviparous fish embryos. She is now an intern for the Australian Government.

Tara MacKenzie

Honours I (2018)

Tara worked to understand the endocrinology of fish pregnancy.

Josh's project focused on the triggers of labour in viviparous reptiles, in collaboration with Dr Jonathan Paul at the University of Newcastle. He received a grant for his research and a travel grant from the Australian Society of Herpetologists. He is now working in business.

Joshua Kemsley

Honours I (2017)

Jenna Day

Honours I (2016)

Jenna's Honours project was co-supervised by Camilla and Catherine Grueber. Jenna analysed genetic diversity to determine whether heterozygosity affects breeding success in captive Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii). The results of her work will be used to inform the design of captive breeding programs for this endangered marsupial. Jenna is now a PhD Student at the University of Sydney.

Kevin Hendrawan

Honours I (2014)

Kevin's Honours project was co-supervised by Mike Thompson, Camilla, Kathy Belov and Matt Brandley. Kevin's project looked at the regulation of the maternal immune system in pregnant Australian skinks. He received first class honours and two awards at national conferences for his research (ANZ Society for Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry 2014; Australian Society of Herpetologists 2015). Kevin is now doing stem cell and cancer research at St Vincent's Hospital.