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Kristofer M. Helgen

Chief Scientist and Director, Australian Museum Research Institute, Australian Museum

Professor Kristofer M. Helgen is Chief Scientist and Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), as of June 2020. As Chief Scientist and Director, he is responsible for the AMRI team of more than 80 staff, including research scientists, collection scientists, collection officers and more than 100 associates, fellows and students, who research and explore the natural world.

Helgen was most recently Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide. He has focused his research primarily on fieldwork with living animals and research in museum collections to document the richness of life, understand global change, and contribute to important problems in biomedicine. Originally from Minnesota, Helgen gained his undergraduate degree in Biology at Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Zoology as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Adelaide. From 2008-2017 he served as Curator-in-Charge of Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Helgen has an outstanding global track-record and has conducted research in more than 50 countries documenting some 100 previously overlooked species of living mammals. He has a deep understanding of museums and museum collections, and experience leading major expeditions around the world. A dedicated public communicator in support of biodiversity conservation, Helgen’s expeditions and discoveries have been featured in two major documentary series by the BBC Natural History Unit and are regularly profiled in the media.

Helgen holds additional academic appointments at the Natural History Museum (London), the American Museum of Natural History (New York), the Bishop Museum (Hawaii), the South Australian Museum (Adelaide), and George Mason University (Virginia). He is a board member of Zoos South Australia, Conservation International (Australia), the International Koala Centre of Excellence, and TCS World Travel. He has been recognised as a Fulbright Fellow, a National Geographic Society Explorer, a CNN Inspirations Researcher, and named to the list of the “Most Innovative Under 40” by Business Insider magazine.


  • –present
    Chief Scientist and Director, Australian Museum Research Institute, Australian Museum


  • 2007 
    University of Adelaide, Zoology