The effects of inbreeding on Thoroughbred racehorses

A scientific study conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney has uncovered breeding strategies to improve the athletic success of Thoroughbred racehorses. The researchers found that horses with higher levels of inbreeding tended to have reduced athletic ability. Thoroughbred horses are often mated with related individuals in order to select for desirable traits, ultimately …

Three MEEP students receive their PhDs

Three students from the MEEP Lab have been awarded their doctorates in the past few weeks. Andrew Ritchie was awarded a PhD for his thesis “Evaluating the performance of diversification models for reconstructing evolutionary history”. Chapters of the thesis have been published in Organisms Diversity & Evolution and in Systematic Biology. Andrew is about to commence a postdoctoral research …

Fenner Medal from Australian Academy of Science

Prof. Simon Ho has received the 2017 Fenner Medal from the Australian Academy of Science. The medal was presented during the Science at the Shine Dome event in Canberra, an annual gathering of the nation’s top scientists. Simon gave a brief talk about his work, entitled “The evolutionary timescale of the Tree of Life”. The Fenner Medal …

How cathedral termites arrived to build their ‘skyscrapers’

They build among the tallest non-human structures (proportionately speaking) in the world and now it’s been discovered the termites that live in Australia’s remote Top End originated from overseas – rafting vast distances and migrating from tree-tops to the ground, as humans later did. Referred to as “cathedral” termites, the Nasutitermes triodiae build huge mounds up to …

PhD student Charles wins Postgraduate Excellence Prize

MEEP PhD student Charles Foster has won the Postgraduate Excellence Prize from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. This award was established by the school in 2002 to “support and promote the development of postgraduate student research excellence”. Charles was judged the winner of the prize based on his talk on “Untangling the patterns …

The Higgs Bison: Mystery species hidden in cave art

Ancient DNA research has revealed that Ice Age cave artists recorded a previously unknown hybrid species of bison and cattle in great detail on cave walls more than 15,000 years ago. The mystery species, known affectionately by the researchers as the Higgs Bison* because of its elusive nature, originated over 120,000 years ago through the …

Workshop: Taming the BEAST in the South Pacific

Members of the MEEP Lab will be part of the teaching term for the upcoming workshop “Taming the BEAST in the South Pacific”. Phylogenetics and phylodynamics are central topics in modern biology. Phylogenetic inferences reconstruct the evolutionary relationships between organisms, whereas phylodynamic inferences reveal the dynamics that lead to the observed relationships. These two fields …

Poster prize for PhD student Charles

MEEP PhD student Charles Foster has won the Australian Systematic Botany Prize for the best student poster at the Australasian Systematic Botany Conference. The meeting was held in Alice Springs and brought together plant systematists from the Australian region. Charles’s prize-winning poster was entitled “There goes Thecanthes: molecular systematics expands the circumscription of Pimelea” and …

PhD student Jun delivers Scholar’s Address

MEEP PhD candidate Jun Tong delivered the Scholar’s Address at the recent Faculty of Science Awards ceremony at the University of Sydney. Jun’s address, delivered to an audience of high-achieving students, their parents, distinguished alumni, and staff, concerned the importance of scientific research and scholarship. The Faculty of Science Awards ceremony is held annually, with …

Oceans apart: Sampling the hawksbill turtle’s genetic diversity

Eight genetically distinct populations of hawksbill turtles have been identified in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. The study by researchers from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences has revealed connections between populations in different oceans and identified management units for conservation. Marine turtles travel around the world to feed and mate, but as the saying goes, …