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Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Griffith University

Prof Lambert is an expert on ancient DNA research, molecular evolution, conservation genetics, evolutionary biology and evolutionary theory.

He is the inaugural Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Griffith University, a former Distinguished Professor at Massey University in New Zealand and a principal investigator in the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution.

He was also a foundation professor in the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study.

Prof Lambert graduated from the University of Queensland with BSc and MSc degrees in Zoology. Later, he studied for his PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand, working in the laboratory of Prof Hugh Paterson.

He is a former James Cook Fellow. He has been awarded more than $45million in research grants since 1995 and has published more than 220 research papers.

Prof Lambert’s research group has focused on wide ranging aspects of evolutionary theory and evolutionary genetics. The group has published extensively in these areas, particularly in relation to species theory, the nature of Darwinian biology and ancient DNA.

His research group has worked on ancient DNA of many species, including the extinct moa of New Zealand, huia and other species. They have pioneered approaches to the estimation of evolutionary and mutation rates, as measured by changes in ancient DNA over geological time periods and pedigree material, respectively.

These studies have established Adélie penguins in the Antarctic as a model organism for the study of evolution. This species represents one of the best sources of ancient DNA yet discovered. The amplification of single copy nuclear DNA sequences from moa has enabled more precise estimates of the number of moa species and the determination of the sex of individual bones.

Ancient DNA studies from the group have enabled the reconstruction of the phylogenetic relationships among moa species and this work has also provided a test for the use of DNA barcoding to determine the efficacy of this approach to the identification of species of ancient life.

Current research in the laboratory covers a range of evolutionary themes from phenotypic to molecular evolution and we have a growing interest in molecular studies of human artefacts.


  • –present
    Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Griffith University


  • 1980 
    University of the Witwatersrand, PhD


Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand