Wildlife Detective and STEM Superstar Sheds Light on Museum Research

 In Media releases

Wildlife detective turned STEM superstar and Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) BioInfoSummer 2018 public lecturer, Professor Rebecca Johnson is set to give Perth a taste of life in the southern hemisphere’s only forensic DNA lab.

Locals can join her for a behind the scenes exploration of research at the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) during a free talk at the University of Western Australia co-hosted by AMSI as part of its 2018 BioInfoSummer event.

The first female Director in AMRI’s 190-year history, Professor Johnson will talk about life as Australia’s leading wildlife forensic scientist and her team’s world-leading research, including recent findings that a rare rock wallaby is still hopping in the Kimberley.

“With over 90,000 DNA samples and forensics and genomics capabilities our team has provided DNA analysis to support identification of the Kimberley rock-wallaby’s ongoing existence on mainland Western Australian,” explains Professor Johnson.

While no longer present in WA, the team’s leadership of the international genomic project to map the koala genome has put the lab on the world stage. Research that is set to shed light on the mysteries of an Australian icon.

“This represents a world-first in de novomammalian genome sequencing that will provide new insights into Koalas and their evolution. This an important step for conservation of one of our most beloved native animals,” says Professor Johnson.

Passionate about engaging young Australians with science, Rebecca hopes the more unusual aspects of her research will attract WA school students to the event.

“Science and maths are not boring, I am constantly surprised at the directions my research takes me. We’ve tackled wildlife trafficking and the illegal rhino horn trade and I have even helped fight crime!”

Join Professor Johnson for the 2018 AMSI BioInfoSummer Public Lecture from 6pm, Wednesday, 5 December at the University of Western Australia, Crawley Campus. For more information and to register, visit bis.amsi.org.au/public-lecture/.

Sponsored by the Harry Butler Institute, this lecture is part of AMSI BioInfoSummer 2018 hosted by the University of Western Australia (Crawley Campus). Australia’s leading bioinformatics and mathematical and computational biology training event, students, researchers and field professionals are exposed to cutting-edge discovery and technology in this fast-paced and exciting field.

AMSI Director, Professor Geoff Prince said this year’s program, including Professor Johnson’s public lecture, reflected the broad application and need for bioinformatics and biostatistics to drive discovery in the age of big data.

“We are delighted to have Rebecca on board for this year’s public lecture as part of our 2018 BIS program. Her work exemplifies the broad application of this field in understanding and protecting our wildlife,” said AMSI Director Geoff Prince.

AMSI BioInfoSummer 2018 is jointly funded by the Department of Education and Training and the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, with support from the University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University, The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, EMBL Australia Bioinformatics Resource, Decode Science, Australian Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Society.

Available For Interview
Australian Museum Research Institute Director, Professor Rebecca Johnson
AMSI Director, Professor Geoff Prince

Media Contact: Laura Watson
E: media@amsi.org.au
M: 04215 18733
P: +613 9035 3683https://amsi.org.au/wp-admin/profile.php

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