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Senior Research Fellow in Ecosystem Dynamics, James Cook University

Peter grew up in Wexford, the ‘Sunny Southeast’ of the Republic of Ireland. In 2006, he completed a BSc (Hons) in Marine Science at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG).

In 2007, he moved to Queensland, Australia and enrolled in the Masters of Applied Science program at James Cook University, Townsville. In 2008, he began a PhD supervised by Prof David Bellwood and Dr Lynne van Herwerden. His PhD research used phylogenetic techniques to investigation the origins and biogeography of coral reef associated fishes, in particular how present day patterns of biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific have developed over the last 60 million years.

Since completing his PhD in 2012, he has held postdoctoral fellow positions at the Australian National University (ANU) and Yale University (USA).

In 2015, he was awarded the Gaylord Donnelley Postdoctoral Environmental Fellowship at the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies (YIBS). While at Yale, worked on a ‘Tree of Life’ for all fishes with colleagues from Yale and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

In 2016, he became a Research Fellow in Ecosystem Dynamics at the ARC Centre of Excellences for Coral Reef Studies.

Commencing in 2017, Peter has been awarded an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) to explore the processes driving the evolution of corals and fishes on tropical reefs.

He has a broad interest in phylogenetics, evolution, biogeography and biodiversity. His current research focuses on understanding past and present patterns of biodiversity in coral reef systems, and how it can contribute to its future conservation.


  • –present
    Research Fellow in Ecosystem Dynamics, James Cook University


  • 2012 
    James Cook University, PhD Marine and Tropical Biology