Damien Esquerré (Principal investigator)
I am originally from Chile but have lived in Australia since 2013. I am an evolutionary biologist and herpetologist interested in the processes that lead to increased speciation and evolution. I work on several groups of lizards, snakes and frogs, mostly from Australia and Chile but I also look at them at a more global scale. I did my Bachelor's degree in Biological Science at the Universidad Católica de Chile, and then moved to Australia in 2013 to join Scott Keogh's lab as an MPhil student, then PhD and finally I worked there for almost four years as a postdoc. I was recently awarded a DECRA Fellowship to work on snake venom evolution and was appointed as a Lecturer at the University of Wollongong. I am now building my research group. Aside from science and animals, I love photography, music, and animation. Husband to biologist Connie Leon and father to little Dalia.
James Dorey (Lecturer/Research associate)
James was recently hired as backfill lecturer for three years to cover my teaching while I do my DECRA. He will also be working on his exciting research on the macroecology, macroevolution, and systematics of Oceanic bees, and we will also be collaborating on various projects. James did his undergrad at the University of Queensland, his PhD at Flinders University and a postdoc at Yale University. He is one of Australia's leading experts on bee evolution and has even written a book on the bees of Australia. Outside of research, he is an avid nature photographer. Check his website!
Bojana Kuzmicic (Masters student)
Bojana is doing her Master at the Universidad de Valparaíso in Chile. I am supervising her thesis, doing phylogeography, species delineation and taxonomy on the extremely cool and complicated Liolaemus gravenhorstii complex. Bojana is a Natural Resources Engineer from the Universidad de Chile, interested in wildlife and nature. In her spare time she likes to travel, find new species and be with her family and friends.
Kamryn Carter (Honours student)
Kamryn is doing a Bachelor of Conservation Biology, and completing her Honours with me at the University of Wollongong. We are still working out details of her project, but it will involve some cool aspects of the evolution of South American lizards. Kamryn loves being outside in nature and is constantly looking for unique animals and plants. If not at Uni, she's caring for my hundreds of plants and frog.
Brogan Dragisic (Honours student)
Brogan is studying a Bachelor of Conservation Biology at UOW, and recently finished a semester abroad in Colorado, USA. I am co-supervising his honours thesis with Assoc. Prof. Phil Byrne and Dr. Aimee Silla, where he will be researching the population genetics of Bibron's toadlets (Pseudophryne bibronii). Ultimately, Brogan is pursuing a career in which he will aid in the conservation of terrestrial biodiversity. In his spare time, he enjoys macro photography, films, basketball, and travel.
My former supervisor and eternal mentor Scott Keogh traced back our PhD lineage which includes academic ancestors like Joseph Grinnell (hugely important in developing ecological niche theory) and Georges Cuvier (one of fathers of palaeontology). Check the lineage here. Here is a photo of four generations, left to right is my academic grand father (Rick Shine), father (Scott Keogh), great grand father (Harold Heatwhole) and me!