Devi Stuart-Fox (Principal Investigator)
I completed a Bachelor of Science in 1996 and Bachelor of Science (Hons) in 1998 at the University of Queensland. I began my research career with projects on phylogeography and molecular systematics of lizards under the supervision of Craig Moritz. I then did a PhD on natural and sexual selection on colour patterns in a group of dragon lizards (1999-2002) at the University of Queensland under the supervision of Ian Owens, Greg Johnston and Justin Marshall. Having developed a fascination for the evolution of animal visual signals, I did a postdoc with Martin Whiting at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa on colour change in dwarf chameleons. I spent four years (2003-2006) in South Africa then moved to Melbourne to take up an ARC postdoctoral fellowship (2007-2009) and faculty position at the University of Melbourne, where I am now Professor.
Amanda Franklin (Postdoctoral Research Fellow March 2019 – )
Amanda completed her undergraduate and Masters degrees at the University of Melbourne. She then received a Fulbright scholarship and moved to Tufts University in Boston, USA to complete her PhD. There, she combined field work and lab work to research visual communication and camouflage in a stomatopod crustacean. When she completed her PhD in 2017, she travelled around the States for a few months before returning to Melbourne to work as a data scientist at the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). After about a year at EPA, she has now moved back to the University of Melbourne as a postdoc with us. She will research colouration and visual ecology in beetles.
Katrina Rankin (Technical Officer/ Research Assistant April 2015 – )
Katrina completed her MSc on the heritability of male throat colouration in polymorphic tawny dragon lizards. She has taken on the role of Research Assistant in the Lab to learn loads of new skills and hone those she picked up during her Masters. Originally a marine biologist, she has fallen in love with the dragons. Sometimes updates the website. Learning to tweet: @kjrankin88.
Laura Ospina Rozo (PhD student, Mar 2018 – )
Originally from Colombia, Laura has joined the lab as our first beetle investigator! Co-supervised by optical physicist, Prof. Ann Roberts and microscopist Dr. Allison van de Meene, both within the University of Melbourne, Laura will be using a range of techniques including microscopy, spectroscopy, biophysical modelling, and behavioural assays to investigate how and why beetles have such striking colours, patterns and effects.
Leslie Ng (PhD student, July 2018 – )
Leslie completed his MSc on honey bee colour perception. He is extending his investigation of honey bee cognition for his PhD, co-supervised by Adrian Dyer and Jair Garcia from RMIT. In particular, he will be using behavioural training techniques to examine the time sense of honey bees, and understand if they process temporal components of information signals when they make decisions.
Lu-Yi Wang (PhD student, Nov 2018 – )
Like many members of the lab, Lu-Yi dreamed of becoming a herpetologist, but during her Masters researching the secondary defence of an aposematic weevil in Taiwan, she developed a great interest in insects. Following up her topic in Masters, Lu-Yi joined a group in Germany to study the mechanism of this defence strategy from the perspective of functional morphology. Now, she follows her heart, and moved to Australia for her PhD, investigating the colouration and thermoregulation of fantastic jewel beetles! Check out Lu-Yi’s website!
Bryony Margetts (co-supervisor, MSc student, June 2020 – )
Bryony is researching colour vision in some beautiful Australian jewel beetle species, specifically exploring the function of their ability perceive far red light. She is also planning to do a systematic review exploring similarities in traits across taxa (birds, fish, bugs etc) that can see far red light, in order to see if there are common attributes. Bryony is supervised by Dr. Amanda Franklin.
Patricia Henríquez Piskulich (PhD student, Nov 2020 – )
Patricia is a veterinarian and beekeeping consultant from Chile. While working with honeybees she developed an interest for natives bees. She completed her MSc on the effects of urbanization on native bees of the high Andes of central Chile. For her PhD, the focus has changed but her interest in bees remains the same. With Devi as her primary supervisor and Mark Elgar as a co-supervisor, she will focus on the mechanisms, functions and evolution of structural coloration in bees.
Kei-Lin Ooi (PhD student, Aug 2021 – )
Kei-Lin hails from the United States, where she completed a Bachelor of Science at UC Berkeley. After spending time as a laboratory technician researching insect vectors in wine grapes, she had a brief stint doing medical research for her Honours degree at the University of Melbourne before returning to her main interests in evolutionary biology. She is now supervised by Devi Stuart-Fox and Iliana Medina for her PhD, investigating aposematism in multiple taxonomic groups in order to understand the role of warning colouration in evolutionary processes.
Lab alumni (since 2008)
Wen-Yun Liao (MPhil student, Feb 2019 – Aug 2021)
Wen-Yun joined the lab from Taiwan to investigate the thermal properties of birds eggs. She investigated whether the reflectance of eggshell serves an important thermoregulatory function, and tested the relationship between eggs’ reflectance, climate and nest type.
Sophie Roberts (co-supervisor, Honours student, July 2020 – May 2021)
Sophie collated data on frog toxicity and colouration, to reveal trends and potentially the reason behind the evolution of camouflage in toxic frog species. Sophie was supervised by Iliana Medina.
Claire McLean (Postdoctoral Research Fellow May 2014 – July 2020)
Claire did her Honours with me on the predation costs of courtship rejection displays in Lake Eyre dragons. After taking some time out to do other things, Claire decided that she missed science and lizards and returned to do her PhD on the evolution of colour polymorphism in tawny dragon lizards (Ctenophorus decresii), co-supervised by Adnan Moussalli (Museum Victoria). In May 2014 she was awarded her PhD and carried on, doing a postdoc using next-generation sequencing to identify pigmentation genes in tawny dragons.
Iliana Medina (Postdoctoral Research Fellow May 2017 – June 2020)
Iliana completed her undergrad and masters at the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia, where she studied evolution of colour in poison frogs. In 2012 she moved to Australia to complete her PhD at the Australian National University where she worked with coevolution between avian brood parasites and their hosts. She then did a short postdoc at ANU before moving to Melbourne as a McKenzie Fellow. Iliana’s main interest is the macroevolution of animal behaviour and coloration, and she uses phylogenetic comparative methods in combination with field and lab experiments to answer broad questions in ecology.
Po Peng (co-supervisor, PhD student, Nov 2016 – Jan 2020)
Originally from Taiwan, where he completed a Masters degree in I-Min Tso’s lab, Po decided to persue a career in ecological and evolutionary research, co-supervised by Mark Elgar, focusing on investigating the adaptations of behavioural traits and their evolutionary implications on interspecific interactions. These include the visual and chemical cues contributing to the maintenance of symbiotic interactions, as well as resultant communication adaptations in spatiotemporal scale.
Caroline Dong (PhD student, Mar 2016 – Dec 2019)
Caroline did her Masters with Bob Thomson in Hawaii from 2012 – 2015. She undertook her PhD with us investigating genomic patterns of speciation in our favourite colour polymorphic tawny dragon lizard (Ctenophorus decresii). Check out Caroline’s website!
Justin Cally (MSc student, Mar 2017 – Oct 2018)
Justin completed his BSc and BBiomend Sci at Monash University before joining the Stuart-Fox Lab. With a strong interest in sexual selection, Justin investigated the broad population fitness effects of sexual selection through research synthesis and macroevolutionary methods. With co-supervision from Luke Holman, he performed a meta-analysis on experimental evolution and comparative studies to quantitatively determine the role of sexual selection in shaping population fitness as well as extinction risk. Justin also utilised phylogenies alongside environmental, historical and intrinsic predictors to ask the same question on a broad comparative scale across multiple taxa.
Joshua Munro (co-supervisor, MSc student, Mar 2016 – Jan 2018)
Josh investigated thermal adaptation in Australian butterflies within and between species, across different climatic conditions. He used specialised imaging equipment and spectrometry to measure the reflectance of butterfly wings across the full spectrum from UV through human visible and into the near-infrared! Josh used specimens at Museum Victoria, with Ken Walker – and is co-supervised by Michael Kearney.
Leslie Ng (co-supervisor, MSc student, Mar 2016 – Oct 2017)
Leslie investigated whether or not brightness is a dimension of honey bee colour perception. We know that there is plasticity in bee colour discrimination, but Leslie explored whether there is also plasticity in achromatic mechanisms such as brightness. While his bee empire was at Melbourne University, Leslie was co-supervised by Adrian Dyer at RMIT.
Richard Bartle (MSc student, Mar 2016 – Oct 2017)
Rick investigated rival recognition and mate selection in northern and southern tawny dragon lizards. He conducted lots of behavioural trials on his captive dragon population to understand the role of male colour morph in male-male interactions, as well as courtship behaviours.
Marleen Baling (co-supervisor, PhD student, Feb 2012 – July 2017)
Marleen completed her PhD at Massey University (New Zealand) supervised by Jim Dale (co-supervised by me). She was looking at the evolution of colour variation within and between populations in shore skinks (Oligosoma smithi).
Elizabeth Newton (MSc student, July 2015 – May 2017)
Elizabeth completed her Masters on a comparative study of the relationship between near-infrared reflectance and thermal environment in birds. She was based at Museum Victoria, taking photographs and spectral measurements of their extensive bird collection.
Tess McLaren (MSc student, July 2015 – May 2017)
Tess was co-supervised by Dr Ruchira Somaweera and performed a comparative study of the evolutionary drivers of colour change in agamid lizards throughout Asia. She grounded her research with an incredible field trip to India to measure colour change of some of the most spectacular agamids in the world.
Luisa Teasdale (co-supervisor, PhD student, Apr 2012 – Dec 2016)
Luisa did her Masters (2010-2011) on the function and evolution of throat colour polymorphisms in tawny dragon lizards (Ctenophorus decresii). She completed her PhD on deep phylogenetic relationships of land snails using next generation sequencing, supervised by Adnan Moussalli (Museum Victoria). I’m her ‘supervisor’ at the university. She is right into bioinformatics.
Maddy Yewers (PhD student, Jul 2011 – Dec 2016)
Maddy did her Masters with A/Prof Raoul Mulder on personality in fairy wrens. She artfully applied her expertise on animal personalities to colour polymorphic tawny dragon lizards. Maddy’s PhD investigated whether male throat colour morphs reflect alternative behavioural strategies and the evolutionary maintenance of polymorphism in this species.
Steven Mesis (MSc student, Feb 2015 – Oct 2016)
Steven investigated aggression in male tawny dragon lizards across a hybrid zone, focussing on the role of throat colouration in competitive interactions.
Danielle Klomp (co-supervisor, PhD student, Mar 2012 – August 2016)
Danielle did her Honours on the evolution of visual signals in Malaysian gliding lizards (Draco spp.), co-supervised by Terry Ord (University of NSW). She has now completed her PhD on the same at UNSW with Terry Ord, co-supervised by me. Her research involved field work in Borneo, peninsular Malaysia and the Philippines catching gliding lizards. Check out Danielle’s website
Viviana Cadena (Postdoctoral Research Fellow Sept 2012 – Dec 2015)
Viviana is an ecophysiologist. She did her PhD at Brock University in Canada on the effects of high altitude acclimation on thermoregulation. She joined us in September 2012 to commence a three year postdoctoral research fellowship on the adaptive significance of colour change in bearded dragon lizards.
Anna Lewis (MSc student, Feb 2014 – Nov 2015)
Anna completed her Masters investigating the effects of stress on colour expression in tawny dragon lizards – she pioneered the use of electron microscopy in our lab to look at how colour expression corresponds to changes in the structure of pigment cells.
Scarlett Howard (MSc student, Feb 2014 – Nov 2015)
Scarlett completed her Masters, co-supervised by Adrian Dyer (RMIT) and Aurore Avarguès-Weber (Cognition Animale, CNRS/Université Toulouse 3, France) on visual cognition in honey bees – she showed that the small brains of honey bees are capable of using rules to learn successive foraging tasks, and then extrapolate information to novel situations.
Maggie Haines (PhD student, Jul 2010 – June 2015)
Originally from the US where she worked on many research projects, Maggie completed her PhD in 2015, on on the conservation genetics of alpine lizards (Pseudemoia spp.) with Jane Melville (Museum Victoria) and me. Maggie is now a Project Officer at Museum Victoria using next generation sequencing to investigate genetic diversity in hybridising frog populations affected by fire. Maggie is passionate about herps and conservation; check out her website!
Katie Smith (MPhil student, Mar 2013 – Jan 2015)
Katie joined us from the US. She completed her Masters on the adaptive significance of colour change in bearded dragon lizards. She focused on the thermoregulatory benefits of colour change.
Katrina Rankin (MSc student, Feb 2013 – Nov 2014)
Katrina completed her Masters on the heritability of male throat coloration in polymorphic tawny dragon lizards. She raised a lot of baby lizards!
Marie Fan (MSc student, Mar 2014 – July 2014)
Marie studied physics, chemistry and biology as an undergraduate and then did a Masters in Bio-Engineering in France. She undertook a Masters in Conservation and Biodiversity at the University of Exeter in the UK and joined us to do her research project on the circadian colour change in bearded dragon lizards.
Ashton Dickerson (Research assistant, Nov 2013 – Nov 2014)
Ashton completed her Bachelor of Science in 2013 and began working as my research assistant shortly after. She was responsible for the care of the bearded dragons, assisted in running experiments, data processing and wherever she was needed.
Samantha Walker (MSc student, Sept 2012 – May 2014)
Samantha did her Masters on thermoregulatory behaviour in tawny dragon lizards to understand how this may influence range limits. She was supervised by Michael Kearney (co-supervised by me).
Ben Wegener (co-supervisor, PhD student, Mar 2009 – May 2013)
Ben was based at Monash University where he did his PhD (March 2009 – May 2013) with Bob Wong. He was co-supervised by Dr Mark Norman (Museum Victoria) and me. Ben’s project was on male reproductive investment strategies in the southern bottletail squid, Sepiadarium austrinum.
Zoe Squires (PhD student, Sept 2008- May 2013)
Zoe did her Honours on the effects of salinity on tadpole behaviour with Bob Wong (Monash University). She did her PhD (Sept 2008 – May 2013 ) on the benefits to females of multiple mating in the southern dumpling squid, Euprymna tasmanica. She was co-supervised by Bob Wong (Monash University) and Mark Norman (Museum Victoria). Zoe was very successful at winning grants to support her research.
Steve Heap (PhD student, Mar 2009 – Feb 2013)
Steve’s PhD was on how animals establish territorial boundaries and fine-tune behaviour in response to uncertainty in the social and physical environment. He is particularly interested in the mechanisms involved in resolving territorial disputes. Steve tackled these issues using a variety of taxa (terrestrial toadlets and cichlid fish) in the field and lab respectively. He also collaborated with Mike Mesterton-Gibbons at the University of Florida to develop a game theory model of contest resolution. He was co-supervised by Phil Byrne (University of Wollongong).