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Dr Jessica Worthington Wilmer

After finishing her PhD in 1996 on the population genetics of the Australian ghost bat Jessica spent almost 5 years based overseas as a postdoctoral researcher. From 1996-1999 she worked at the Zoology Department of the University of Cambridge using genetic markers to study the mating system (e.g. paternity, reproductive success) of British grey seals. After winning an International Fellowship from the American Association of University Women, Jessica moved to the Biology Department of Boston University, USA in 1999 where she worked for 2 years on her own research project investigating the link between flight, longevity and rates of molecular evolution in bats.

Jessica Worthington WIlmer

Jessica returned to Australia in 2001 and following a desire to move away from a purely academic base and pursue a growing interest in public science education, joined the Queensland Museum (QM) in 2002 as its first specialist geneticist (as opposed to taxonomist). At the QM she helped establish and continues to manage the Molecular Identities Laboratory. Jessica also played an instrumental role in setting up the QM’s first frozen tissue collection, which she also manages in collaboration with the other Biodiversity collection management staff.

While at the museum Jessica has been involved in a number of very interesting projects which are diverse both in terms of the scientific questions being asked and the animal groups on which those questions are focused.

Examples of some of these projects are:

  • the validation of a DNA-based diagnostic tests for marteiliosis (QX disease) of Sydney rock oysters
  • examining the utility of molecular data to aid in species identification of sea anemones
  • the identification of new species of leaf tail geckos and rainbow skinks.

Current research projects include:

  • the population dynamics and landscape genetics of an endangered artesian spring snail (collaborating with the University of Queensland and BHP Billiton)
  • molecular systematics of ring-tailed geckos in north Queensland, PNG and the Solomon Islands (collaborating with the QM's herpetology staff, the University of Sydney and the Bishop Museum, Hawaii).

Areas of expertise

Population and landscape genetics, molecular systematics


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Research Fellow and Molecular Identities Lab Manager, Biodiversity Program


BSc (Hons), PhD

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