Current Research Students

Current Research Students

Our students work on a range of exciting projects, which are outlined below.

Luke SilverLuke Silver (PhD Student) is using genomic data to
investigate immune genes in Australian marsupials with a focus on koalas where he is using resequenced genomes to examine patterns of diversity in functional and neutral regions of the genome across the entire east coast of Australia. This work will be used to inform conservation and management decisions in the fight to save our threatened species.

Holly Nelson (PhD Student) is working on how we can use genomics to revolutionise threatened species management. From genome assembly to downstream analyses using whole-genome data, Holly is using her work to answer genetic questions on the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle, Koala, and other threatened species. Her work, in partnership with the NSW Governments Saving Our Species program, aims to create more robust conservation strategies that can be developed and applied together with wildlife managers..

Jian Cui (PhD Student) is investigating the immune gene characterization and expression in the Tasmanian devil and other marsupials.

Andrea Schraven (PhD Student; co-supervised with Dr Catherine Grueber) is projecting the long-term impacts of supplementation to improve the status of wild Tasmanian devil populations with the ongoing threat of DFTD. By evaluating population genetic and fitness data before and after translocations, she is comparing how populations change over a few generations, and then feeding the data into computational models to simulate “evolutionary time”. The results will directly inform conservation management decisions for the species long-term recovery.

Toby Kovacs

Toby Kovacs (PhD Student) I am using historical and modern Koala genomes to assess shifts in functional diversity over time, estimate genomic mutation rates, and test for signatures of local adaptation. I have a background in phylogenetics and molecular evolution and am completing my PhD in the Molecular Ecology, Evolution and Phylogenetics Lab in collaboration with the Australian Wildlife Genomics Group and the Center for Evolutionary Hologenomics (University of Copenhagen).

Patra Petrohilos (PhD Student) is researching the evolution of devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). By investigating anticancer properties of naturally occurring peptides, she is aiming to identify novel agents with therapeutic potential against DFTD.

Adele Gonsalvez (2022 Honours Student) is investigating the expression and the antimicrobial activity of defensins from the platypus and short-beaked echidna

Simon Tang (2022 Honours Student) is creating a reference genome for the stuttering frog (Mixophyes balbus) for the purpose of characterising novel antimicrobial peptides

Lucy Ockert (2022 Honours Student) is characterising the pouch microbiome in lactating and non-lactating Tasmanian devils to understand the immunological protection of marsupial pouch young provided by cathelicidins.

Cloe GardnerCloe Gardner (2023 Honours student) is characterising the milk transcriptome of the koala to identify novel antimicrobial peptides which could be used to help improve milk substitutes for orphaned joeys.