CIE Seminar Series – 2019: Genetic and epigenetic drivers of invasion

SPEAKERS: Assoc Prof Lee Ann Rollins, UNSW Scientia Fellow, Evolution & Ecology Research Centre, Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of NSW, Sydney

DATE: Friday, 25th October 2019

TIME: 1:30pm

LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – Room ka4.207 (Green room)

Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood –Burwood Corporate Centre and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.19 (Fishbowl)


Exotic invasions offer an ideal opportunity to investigate evolution, which often occurs rapidly when organisms are introduced to novel environments. Although ecological correlates of invasion success are well-studied, our knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms is poor.

In this talk, I will present recent findings from our research group regarding the roles of genetic and epigenetic change in two highly successful invaders, cane toads and starlings. I will also discuss potential roles for microbiomes and parasites to influence invasion success in their hosts, and our work to investigate these possibilities. In combination, our research indicates that the genetics and epigenetics of invasive populations are likely to be key drivers of invasion success.


Lee Rollins is a Scientia Fellow in Evolution & Ecology Research Centre and the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science at UNSW Sydney. She was awarded a PhD from UNSW in Conservation Genetics in 2009 and was awarded fellowships from Deakin University (2012) and from the Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher scheme (2015).

Her research investigates genetic and epigenetic drivers of evolution during exotic species invasion using species like cane toads and starlings. She is keen to understand how environmental factors affect genome function across generations, a topic that likely impacts all organisms on our planet.

Appointments with speaker may be made via

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