I study links between patterns in Australian mammal evolution, ecology and extinction, and climate- and human-driven environmental changes. My students and I spend weeks in the field every year digging up old bones, often from caves, and exploring the contents of museum drawers. We work with experts in many different fields, including archaeologists, geologists and molecular biologists.
My own career started after I scraped through year 12 with the barest pass and began a BSc at Flinders in 1987. I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but I knew I liked science. After failing all first-year subjects except Biology, I followed the path of least resistance into second and third year, where I was introduced to evolution, palaeontology and the Australian biota. I studied kangaroo evolution for a PhD, then completed postdocs (junior research internships) at the University of California, Naracoorte Caves and Western Australian Museum, before returning in 2007 to reanimate palaeontology at Flinders following the retirement of Prof Rod Wells.
Today, Flinders Palaeontology occupies a suite of purpose-built, centrally-located labs and offices opened in 2014. We have five academic staff, including a Strategic Professor, a Matthew Flinders Fellow, a Vice-chancellor's Research Fellow and an ARC Future Fellow, as well as an ARC DECRA Fellow, eight research and technical staff, and 18 PhD and Honours students. Our dynamic, diverse, highly-interactive group leads research into deep-time evolutionary patterns and processes, and the past and potential future effects of environmental changes on biotas. We regularly make ground-breaking discoveries that attract international attention.
Want to be a palaeontologist? Flinders offers the best training ground in the country. Australia's first and only Bachelor of Science in Palaeontology starts here in 2019!
Want to get your hands dirty right now? Join the Flinders University Palaeontology Society!
I have been successful in attracting research grants totalling $4.5M since 2007, and have been project leader on an ARC Future Fellowship grant, five ARC Discovery Project grants and one ARC LIEF grant.
In 2014 I led the successful bid for Flinders Palaeo to be the focus of an Australian National Data Service Major Open Data Collections Project.
I have been awarded two Flinders Executive Dean of Science & Engineering Grants for the development of school / community outreach resources for the Bone Box (2010, 2012).
I have also received a National Geographic Research Grant (2011) and one Hermon Slade Foundation Grant (2011).
Director, Flinders Palaeontology
Coordinator, Bachelor of Science (Palaeontology)
In one way, shape or form, researchers within our group investigate the responses of species and/or communities of animals to environmental changes over timescales varying from hundreds to millions of years.
I am part of the Flinders Palaeontology Group, one of the best places in Australia to study the deep history of life. This consists of the labs of the following academic staff and research fellows (and their research groups) addressing questions across all vertebrates - from fish to mammals, and the Cambrian to the Holocene.