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Associate Professor Camilla Whittington

I am fascinated with the convergent evolution and biology of pregnancy and the placenta. My team and I apply a range of methods including physiological and morphological techniques technologies and molecular technologies to elucidate the evolution and genetic basis of these traits. We have worked with marsupials, monotremes, rodents, and sharks, and our current focus is on using Australian lizards and seahorses as model systems. My interests encompass evolutionary biology, genetics and genomics, physiology, animal behaviour, and conservation. I share the Applied and Evolutionary Zoology Lab with Associate Professor Catherine Grueber.

See Google Scholar for my team's publications. Feel free to email me for reprints.


Dr Mitchell Hodgson
Research Associate

Mitchell is an evolutionary biologist with a broad interest in how ectotherms respond to temperature and climate. Mitchell is working on understanding the fitness implications of parity mode using skink species that vary geographically between egg-laying and live-birth. Yes, he always looks this happy when he is around lizards!


Dr Maggs X
Fulbright Fellow

Maggs is examining the transition from oviparity to viviparity in lizards, funded by a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship.


Zoe Skalkos

PhD Student

Zoe (Honours student in 2019) is studying seahorse pregnancy, cosupervised by Associate Professor James Van Dyke and Dr Samson Dowland.


Dineth Pathirana
PhD Student

Dineth (Honours student in 2023) is working on the genetics of Saiphos equalis, co-supervised by Associate Professor Catherine Grueber.


Deirdre Merry
PhD student (UTas)

Deirdre (Honours student in 2018) is studying pregnancy and birth in Egernia group skinks with Associate Professor Geoff While at UTas, co-supervised by Camilla.


Arda Poda
Honours Student

Arda is working on shark placentation, co-supervised by Dr Samson Dowland and Professor Maria Byrne.


Blake Eager
Honours Student

Blake is working on seahorse reproductive biology, co-supervised with Dr Emily Remnant.


Natalie Gonzalez
Honours Student

Natalie is working on parthenogenesis with Associate Professor Catherine Grueber, co-supervised by Camilla.

Jacquie Herbert

Jacquie had the unenviable task of managing the lab and wrangling its inhabitants for many years. She is also talented photographer and took many of the photos featured on this website. She now volunteers in the lab in between running The Christmas Shop (Ramsgate).

Lab Alumni


Dr Kittikun (Chris) Songsomboon,
Research Associate

Chris is a bioinformatician and plant breeder who is fascinated by the extensive story that can be told by bioinformatics in many organisms. In the lab, he is implementing his skills in lizards, seahorses, and chicken, for genome assembly and expression studies. He is now a bioinformatician and collaborator working at University of Technology Sydney.

Dr Jessica Dudley

Research Associate

Jess worked on the biology of pregnancy in seahorses, and is now a postoc and collaborator at Macquarie University. Her PhD was on marsupial pregnancy, with Professor Mike Thompson and Associate Professor Bronwyn McAllan.


Dr Charles Foster

Research Associate

Charles is now a postdoc at UNSW working in viral evolution. He is a current collaborator interested in big questions in evolutionary biology. His focus in the lab was on using transcriptomic data to research the evolution of viviparity and the placenta, where he won the Alan Wilton Award for his research.


Emeritus Professor Mike Thompson

The main focus of Mike's research is reproduction in reptiles, with a particular emphasis on the physiology and ecology of eggs and embryos. He combines physiology, anatomy and molecular biology to understand the evolution of viviparity across a range of species that have different placental complexities. Other recent projects in the lab include reproduction in shovel-nosed rays, the physiology and ecology of invasive lizards, sex determination in lizards, physiological ecology of flat rock spiders and feeding behaviour in desert lizards. ​A list of his publications can be found here. Follow him on ResearchGate and Google Scholar. Mike is a close collaborator, now from his farm in SA!

A/Prof James Van Dyke
Postdoctoral Fellow

Van is now an Associate Professor at La Trobe University, and is a close collaborator. Visit his website here.

Dr Henrique Braz

Postdoctoral Fellow

Henrique is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Butantan Institute (São Paulo, Brazil). He has a broad interest in the reproductive biology of squamate reptiles. His research focuses on topics as the evolution of viviparity, reproductive cycles, nest-site selection, and life history. Visit his website here.


Dr Alice Buddle
PhD (2022)

Alice completed her PhD in the lab, studying the evolution of pregnancy in Australian sharks, with a focus on morphology and physiology. She now works for the NSW Government.

Dr Claudia Santori
PhD (2020)

Claudia is now a Project Officer for non-profit group Ocean Watch Australia. Her PhD investigated conservation of three turtle species in the Murray river. Claudia is very interested in alternative conservation strategies such as citizen science, and the use of GIS technology for conservation.

Dr Sadequr Rahman

PhD (2020)

Sadeq's PhD, co-supervised with Maria Byrne, is researching the evolution of viviparity in sea stars by studying the morphological, physiological and genetic basis of viviparity in Australian species. His broad field of interest is in the evolutionary biology of diverse marine animals. He is now an Assistant Professor at Chittagong University.

Dr Nicky Rollings

PhD (2019)

Nicky is an evolutionary biologist with a focus on life history strategies and telomeres. Through studying dragons and snakes, Nicky seeks to determine the effects that telomeres have at a cellular level all the way to the evolution of species. She is now working in industry.

Dr Melanie Laird

PhD (2018)

Mel's PhD work investigated how the marsupial uterus prepares for pregnancy. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Otago.

Dr Oliver Griffith

PhD (2015)

Oliver's PhD was supervised by Mike Thompson, and he is a current collaborator. He is now a Lecturer at Macquarie University.


Ren Tuttiett
Honours I (2023)

Ren worked on bimodal reproduction in lizards, co-supervised by Dr Mitch Hodgson. She is now undertaking further study.

Jenny-Jia Wang
Honours I (2022)


Jenny studied seahorse pregnancy, co-supervised by Associate Professor Catherine Grueber. She is now a Research Assistant at the Australian Museum.

Karolina Kambersky
Honours I (2022)

Edited Image 2016-02-09 00-18-49

Karolina studied the genetics of seahorse pregnancy, co-supervised by Dr Emma Peel.


Vertina Teh
Honours I (2020)

Vertina studied seahorse pregnancy using histological techniques. She is now undertaking further study.


Stephanie Liang
Honours I (2020)

Stephanie's project on lizard pregnancy was co-supervised by Associate Professor Catherine Grueber.

Monty Oldroyd
Honours I (2018)

Monty used transcriptomics to examine the evolution of reptile pregnancy. He is now a data analyst for a large multinational company.


Polly Hannaford

Honours I (2018)

Polly's project focused on respiratory gas supply to viviparous fish embryos. She is now works for the Australian Government.

Tara MacKenzie

Honours I (2018)

Tara worked to understand the endocrinology of fish pregnancy.

Josh's project focused on the triggers of labour in viviparous reptiles, in collaboration with Dr Jonathan Paul at the University of Newcastle. He received a grant for his research and a travel grant from the Australian Society of Herpetologists. He is now working in business.

Joshua Kemsley

Honours I (2017)

Jenna Day

Honours I (2016)

Jenna's Honours project was co-supervised by Camilla and Catherine Grueber. Jenna analysed genetic diversity to determine whether heterozygosity affects breeding success in captive Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii). The results of her work will be used to inform the design of captive breeding programs for this endangered marsupial. Jenna is now a PhD Student at the University of Sydney.

Kevin Hendrawan

Honours I (2014)

Kevin's Honours project was co-supervised by Mike Thompson, Camilla, Kathy Belov and Matt Brandley. Kevin's project looked at the regulation of the maternal immune system in pregnant Australian skinks. He received awards at two national conferences for his research (ANZ Society for Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry 2014; Australian Society of Herpetologists 2015). Kevin is now doing stem cell and cancer research at St Vincent's Hospital.

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