My main research interests are in understanding the ecological and genetic adaptive capacity of biodiversity to major environmental change.
My group uses genomic and statistical analytical procedures to understand how gene diversity and gene flow at different spatial, temporal and
organismal scales confer adaptation and resilience to changing conditions past, present and future. This research aims to understand, monitor and
better manage biodiversity, particularly adaptation in the face of the anthropogenic threats of habitat fragmentation, over exploitation, invasive species and climate change. Our work has changed habitat management criteria, timber extraction thresholds, export restrictions and restoration practices, adapted by government agencies, NGOs and intergovernmental organisations (e.g. CITES.
At the University, I am Professor of Plant Conservation Biology and Director
of the Centre for Conservation Science and Technology. I also hold a
number of national and international advisory positions; including on the
Global Timber Tracking Network, International Barcode of Life Scientific
Steering Committee and part of the Export Working Group convened by the UN
Office of Drugs and Crime to advise on Forest and wildlife crime.
I am experienced in commercialising research, and am Chief Scientific Office
of Double Helix Tracking Technologies, a Bioknowledge startup
headquartered in Singapore that uses DNA tools to eliminate illegally
logged timber from global supply chains. Im also part
I lead a number of other Regional and National research programs,
including the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) for which I am
Associate Science Director. The Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network
(TERN), is a national research infrastructure investment ($55M) and
involving 100s scientists staff across Australia. In this role, I have
helped lead a step change for the field to encourage a more collaborative
and open access approach, and recently helped steer the production of the
Australian Ecosystem Science Long Term Plan.
I have held formal leadership roles within government, including Head of
Science for the Science and Conservation Directorate of the South
Australian Department of Environment (2006-2012) and Acting Director of
the South Australian Museum (2014). I am currently Principal Advisor:-
Biodiversity Research Partnerships for the South Australian Department of
Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
I was made full professor in 2006, nine years after gaining my PhD in
Plant Evolutionary Biology (1997) from the University of St Andrews, UK.
My group comprises 40 scientists, technical leads and students, and has
published over 200 papers and book chapters, many in high impact journals.
Our group has lead 28 research grants (total value >$34M), and partnered
on a further 22 grants (total combined ~$100M), and collaborated with over
300 researchers, from 100 institutes in 30 countries. Since 2008, I have
given 40 invited plenaries at national and international meetings, and
enjoy communicating my work to a general audience, through public talks
(100), general publications, media articles (>100) and a blog