McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow
School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne
For full details, please download current Curriculum vitae PDF.
July 19th 2013: PhD Australian National University (ANU).
2000 – 2004: BSc (Hons 1st class) Biological Science University of New South Wales (UNSW).
Population genetic structure and evolutionary dynamics of Elaeocarpus reticulatus in New South Wales. Supervisors: Bill Sherwin (UNSW), Maurizio Rossetto & Darren Crayn (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney)
Research and teaching appointments
May 2016 – present: McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Pollination and adaptation in the Australian flora. University of Melbourne.
Mar 2016 – Aug 2016: Endeavour Postdoctoral Fellowship: Global plant-mating systems meta-analysis. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA.
Sept 2015 – Dec 2015: Casual lecturer: Field Studies in Functional Ecology (BIOL2203), The Australian National University.
Apr 2013 – Jan 2016: Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Above and below ground interactions in Caladenia spider orchids. The Australian National University / Kings Park Botanic Garden
Nov 2012 – Mar 2014: Postdoctoral Scholar: Floral community colour and pollination in the South African orchid flora. University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Aug 2007– Dec 2007: Research Assistant: Invasion genetics of European Starlings. University of New South Wales
Mar 2007 – Jun 2007: Research Assistant: DNA barcoding of Australian flora. Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
Mar 2005 – Feb 2007: Research Assistant: Empirical tests of population genetics theory, and technician; Molecular Ecology and Evolution Facility. University of New South Wales
My research aims to uncover general patterns in the evolutionary dance between flowering plants and the animals and fungi that they depend on. My discoveries contribute to a basic understanding of how plant biodiversity is generated and maintained, as well as building a richer picture of the operation of biological evolution. Revealing the critical interactions between plants and their environment also feeds into effective management of our natural capital.
My primary focus is pollination. This is a deeply multidisciplinary field which has enabled me to develop a broad and multidisciplinary skill set in the biological sciences. While most of my work includes some element of population genetic analysis (SNPs and microsatellites), other skills include field ecology methods, experimental design, camera-trapping techniques, mark-recapture methodologies, phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data, analysis of colour and vision modeling, fungal culture and microbiological techniques.
Research grants awarded
2017: Hermon Slade Foundation Research Grant ($53 994 AUD)
MR Whitehead: Plant biodiversity and adaptation in a changing world: the effects of animal pollinators
2016: McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellowship ($286 000 AUD)
2016: Endeavour Postdoctoral Research Fellowship ($20 000 AUD)
2014: Australian Orchid Foundation ($10 000 AUD)
MR Whitehead, Rod Peakall, Kingsley Dixon, Celeste Linde: Below ground diversity in an orchid biodiversity hotspot.
2012: Percy Sladen Memorial Fund grant (£750 GBP)
MR Whitehead: Are pollinators of rewardless flowers betrayed by learning or instinct?
2008 – 2010: Australian Pacific Science Foundation Research Grant ($30 000 AUD)
MR Whitehead and R Peakall: Gene flow in Australian sexually deceptive orchids.