Professor of Genetics, Monash University

I use genetics to understand plant diversity – within species, between species, between life stages, and across evolutionary time.

My research is curiosity-driven, focusing on fundamental questions about plants, such as what did the common ancestor of all land plants look like and how did it evolve to produce all the land plants we have today?

By explaining how nature works, I believe my research has cultural significance, adding beauty to the world, and helping us appreciate it more. My research could also lead to agricultural innovation – for example by developing plantations that produce more wood on less land.

In my spare time, I’m a guide at the fairy penguin colony on St Kilda breakwater, telling tourists about its natural history. With EarthCare St Kilda, I also study the colony to work out how the birds co-exist within a city of 4 million people.

I was raised in Montana, but live in Melbourne because it’s like San Francisco, without handguns.


  • –present
    Professor of Genetics, Monash University
  • –present
    Adjunct Professor, UC Davis


  • 1991 
    Caltech, PhD