Miss Rebecca E. Roberts


2015 PhD candidate, University of the Sunshine Coast

2012 Hons. 1st Class, University of the Sunshine Coast (USC, 2012)

2011 B. Env. Sc., University of the Sunshine Coast (USC, 2011)



I have always had a passion for nature and conservation, and so I chose to study environmental science while working part-time as a rehabilitation officer for a landcare company in Brisbane. The final semester of my undergraduate degree found me working in USC’s GeneCology lab, investigating the population genetics of an endangered rainforest tree. This became my Honours project, for which I was awarded First Class in 2012. Recently I made the leap from population genetics to molecular biology. My current PhD project, investigating the molecular basis of communication in the crown-of-thorns starfish, means I can enjoy the best of both worlds; molecular biology and bioinformatics, but with an overall conservation focus. I am also very interested in using molecular tools to answer questions about evolution, both at the species and gene level. Earlier in the year I received a faculty grant to attend the 2014 Workshop on Molecular Evolution at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Wood’s Hole, USA. I also tutor in the subject of Biodiversity and Ecology. I hope to use the skills I acquire during my PhD to build a strong career in research and teaching.

Research areas

Population genetics

Molecular biology

Chemosensory science


Molecular Evolution


Teaching areas

Invertebrate Ecology

Biodiversity and Ecology

Professional memberships

Genetics Society of Australasia (GSA)

American Society of Naturalists (ASN)

Australasian Association of Chemosensory Science (AACS)


HDR travel grant 2014 ($4,800) – to attend the 2014 Workshop on Molecular Evolution

Research articles and conference papers

AACS conference 2014 - Investigation of the chemosensory toolkit of the crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci: towards a control technology


GSA Conference 2012 - Population genetics and evolutionary study of Brachychiton sp. ormeau, an endangered rainforest tree

USC Research Week 2014 - Molecular biology of communication: removing crown-of-thorns starfish from the Great Barrier Reef (in collaboration with Meaghan Smith)