Dr Damian Dowling
Associate Professor / ARC Future Fellow
Research in Damian Dowling’s group is focused on understanding how life evolves. We draw on experimental evolutionary, genomic and ecological techniques to explore fundamental biological questions.
Dr Rebecca Adrian
ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow
I arrived at Monash in September 2017 after receiving my Ph.D. from Auburn University in Alabama, USA. While my dissertation research focused on the physiological mechanisms underlying honest signaling in carotenoid-based coloration, I became fascinated by deeper evolutionary questions, including the potential roles of mitochondria in mediating both proximate and ultimate causes of patterns we see in nature. In the Dowling Lab, I aim to explore these new avenues of research in the model fruit fly system through tests of the “mother’s curse” hypothesis. I publish under my maiden name, Rebecca Koch.
Dr Magdalena Nystrand
ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow
I am an evolutionary biologist, with a broad interest ranging from behavioural ecology, to disease ecology, to conservation and population dynamics. I have worked on a number of different species, including Eurasian lynx, Red squirrels, Siberian jays (birds), Australian field crickets and fruit flies. The common denominator for everything I have done to date is a keen interest in evolution and ecology, and in exploring the factors that influence the evolutionary process.
Dr Susi Zajitschek
I have a special interest in sexual conflict and postcopulatory processes. Currently, I am investigating the transgenerational effects of harmful male traits, in an effort to shed light on the interplay of costs (i.e. reduction in lifespan) and benefits (reproductive success across generations) of this to females. To do this, I run experiments in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) here at Monash, and work on bean weevils (Callosobruchus maculatus) at the EBD-CSIC in Seville, Spain
I am interested in the evolution of life-history, and in particular in the trade-offs that shape senescence and lifespan, using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. My research is now focused on understanding the genetic trade-off between early life important traits (growth related traits) and lifespan itself, and if the magnitude and direction of these trade-offs change across mtDNA haplotypes and in the presence of a Wolbachia infection.
I work on the communication between the mitochondria and the nuclei. In particular I’m testing the possibility of this communication through the use of small RNAs. I found some evidence of their existence during my MSc and name them small mitochondrial highly-transcribed RNAs (smithRNAs). Now my goal is to understand their role in pathologies and thermal tolerance using both bioinformatics and experimental methods.
I completed a Bachelor of Psychology, with further general undergraduate studies in biology, ecology and chemistry. I also hold a Master of Biological Anthropology Advanced with Honours. My research thus far has been focused on primate behavioural ecology and evolution, with more specific investigation into human male aggression and its relationship with intrasexual selection. My masters work investigated the peopling of Australia and New Guinea using mtDNA. My PhD project is focused on the transgenerational effects and evolutionary implications of obesogenic diets.
Eukaryotic life hinges on coordinated interactions between genes spanning mitochondrial and nuclear genomes, and thus we can expect that epistatic interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear genotypes will be key to mediating the link between the mitochondrial genotype and the organismal phenotype. The aim of my PhD is to quantify the relative contribution of mito-nuclear epistasis to determine the expression of organismal physiological and life-history trait expression. Furthermore, I will also investigate the role of the mito-nuclear genotype in contributing to trajectories of local adaptation to the prevailing climate.
Prior to my studies at Monash, I completed a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) and Post-Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education. Although my previous studies facilitated my growth as an educator, completing the Bachelor of Science at Monash fostered my passion for research, with a keen interest in exploring the factors that contribute to co-evolution across multiple biological scales. Consequently, my past and current research projects aim to investigate how complex interactions involving natural variation within the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes, sex, and nutrition influence phenotypic variation within life history traits, using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster.
Dr Winston Yee
I completed my PhD in the Dowling lab exploring the evolutionary significance of the mitochondrial genome, focusing on mitochondrial by nuclear genome interactions. Currently I am a research assistant and laboratory manager for the Dowling lab group.