Arid Adventures

Australian National Wildlife Collection, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems

PhD (Evolutionary Genetics) 2006

Minimum $49,000
Maximum $70,000
Average $62,000 p.a. (source: UQ research academic staff salaries)

THIS UQ Science graduate’s career is flourishing amidst the isolated plains of the Nullarbor.

Gaynor Dolman, who graduated from UQ in 2006 with a PhD in evolutionary genetics, is now a postdoctoral research fellow for the Australian National Wildlife Collection – a branch of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or CSIRO.

The collection is a biodiversity resource aiding the study, classification and documentation of Australia’s mammals, birds and reptiles and amphibians.

Based in Adelaide, Gaynor is researching what is known as phylogeography (the historical processes that are responsible for the contemporary geographic distributions of individuals and their genetic diversity) and population genetics of southern Australian vertebrates, especially those for which the Nullarbor Plain may act as a barrier.

“This provides insight into the impact of aridification and sea-level changes on the origin, distribution, long range dispersal and genetic diversity of southern Australian fauna,” she explains. 

After completing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in South Australia in 1992, Gaynor started her career by working in the fields of medical genetics and leukaemia research. 
She took two years off to travel overseas before she was drawn to the lab once more – this time to explore the exciting topic of evolutionary genetics at UQ. 

Gaynor says her own passion for science grew from her time at UQ, where the high level of motivation among her fellow postgraduate students was “most influential”.

“Through the support from UQ I was also able to travel to overseas conferences and workshops in the US and Brazil,” she says.

“I am very thankful for the learning opportunities and the experience I gained at these international meetings.” And now her career is thriving.

“The most outstanding factor of being a researcher is that life is by no means dull,” Gaynor says.

“I have the opportunity to discover new things about Nature just about every day.”