Wildlife detectives: Research, discovery and exploration at the Australian Museum | Centre for Veterinary Education

Wildlife detectives: Research, discovery and exploration at the Australian Museum

Rebecca Johnson

Lunchtime Seminar Series

Duration: 51:50

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Dr Johnson will describe the breadth of AMRI research and how the museum utilises their natural science collections. These collections are some of NSW’s oldest and most valuable research infrastructure collected through the Museum’s journey of discovery, exploration and education. 

Whether it is policing the illegal rhino horn trade, discovering the vampire flying frog, conserving the koala through genome sequencing, or protecting Australia’s borders from invasive species, the research undertaken at the Australian Museum, our nation’s first museum, has never been more relevant or translational.


Dr Johnson is Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute, a Wildlife Forensic Scientist, a conservation geneticist and co-chief investigator of the Koala Genome Consortium. As Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute she leads the >110 staff working in science and education at the Australian Museum.

She has an honours degree from the University of Sydney and PhD from La Trobe University Melbourne in the field of molecular evolutionary genetics and has worked as a molecular geneticist, in Australia and the USA before joining the museum in 2003. Since then she has established the Museum as one of the global leaders in the field of wildlife forensics and conservation genomics through the ISO17025 accreditation of the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics facilities (one of the only fully accredited wildlife forensics laboratories in the Australasian region).

In April 2015 she became Director, Australian Museum Research Institute, Science & Learning (the first female science director in the Australian Museum’s 188 year history). She is one of 23 individuals certified as a wildlife forensic scientist globally, and is one of only two experts appointed by the Federal Environment Minister as an examiner in wildlife forensics under the EPBC commonwealth legislation section 303GS(1). In May 2016 she became an adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney.

In July 2017 Rebecca was named one of the 30 inaugural “SuperStars of STEM”. She was awarded the 2016 University of Sydney, Faculty of Science Alumni Award for Professional Achievement and in September 2016 was also announced as one of The Australian Financial Review and Westpac “100 Women of Influence” in the Innovation category. Rebecca has also received a Chief Executive Women (CEW) scholarship to attend the INSEAD business school for executive leadership.

Rebecca is a member of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences represents the Museum on >14 government and industry committees, including as Australian & New Zealand Forensic Science Society NSW Branch president, and Director of Membership & Outreach for the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science.
She is passionate about conservation, reducing the illegal wildlife trade and the importance of STEM education in contributing to positive environmental outcomes. She is frequently invited to present her research both in Australia and overseas and regularly presents to students and the public on the importance of conservation research, wildlife forensic science and the key roles and museums can play in making a difference through their science.