A Colourful Career - Devi Stuart-Fox

Australian Research Council, The University of Melbourne

BSc (Ecology, Evolution) /BA (Anthropology, Philosophy) 1996
Hons (Zoology) 1998
PhD 2003 (Zoology)

 Minimum $75,000, Maximum $92,000, Average $83,000 p.a.

THE colourful kaleidoscope that is animal visual communication has lit up this UQ Science graduate's career.

Evolutionary biologist Devi Stuart-Fox has travelled the world in pursuit of greater knowledge of the evolution of visual signals in animals.

From the Outback's lizard varieties to the ocean's cephalopods (octopuses, squid and their relatives), Devi's research focus is these animals' remarkable ability to change colour as a form of communication.

Now a lecturer and Australian Research Council postdoctoral research fellow at The University of Melbourne, Devi's fascinating career started somewhat simply, with a dual Bachelor of Science (ecology and evolution) and Bachelor of Arts degree at UQ.

She went on to complete Honours and a PhD in zoology before she was lured to far corners of the globe, studying camouflage and colour change in the likes of dwarf chameleons in South Africa and rock dragons in South Australia.

She says such opportunities opened up thanks to UQ.

"Having my PhD from a good university gave me the chance to work with internationally-recognised researchers," she says. 

 "I have participated in scientific expeditions in Borneo, Papua New Guinea and Madagascar and have done field work in many countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Portugal.

"Having the opportunity to experience this diversity of environments – both natural and cultural – has definitely been the highlight of my career."
Devi's advice to students is to follow their heart.

"Who would have thought there was a career in studying lizard behaviour?" she asks.

"If anything, my experience has taught me there are careers in what you love.

"I love every part of my job – I get huge satisfaction from interacting with students and colleagues and I also love doing research."

"It goes to show – anything's possible."