Chief Investigator

Cynthia Riginos is a Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland. She is an evolutionary biologist with wide-ranging interests spanning population genomics, land & seascape genetics, molecular ecology, phylogeography, biogeography, speciation, hybridisation, invasive species, and conservation. Overall, her research seeks to understand how marine biodiversity is created, where that biodiversity has accumulated, and how this knowledge can be used preserve biodiversity and the processes that create it in a changing world. Cynthia is especially fond of reef fishes, molluscs, and corals but easily distracted by other taxa as well. She is an associate editor for Molecular Ecology, Molecular Ecology Resources, and the Journal of Biogeography. She is a founding member of both the Diversity in the Indo-Pacific Network (DIPnet), a consortium seeking to promote open data exchange and collaboration among genetic research groups and students working in the Indo-Pacific region, and the Genetic Observatories Metadatabase (GEOME), an infrastructure for linking accessioned genotypes with their spatial and other collecting metadata. Cynthia has been at UQ since 2006 and previously held an endowed postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Evolution & Comparative Genomics at Duke University. Her PhD (2000) and Master’s (1998) degrees are both from the University of Arizona in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Post docs

Iva Popovic

Evolutionary genomics of marine invertebrates



My research takes advantage of natural biological systems and genomic methods to understand the evolutionary processes shaping genetic diversity and divergence between closely related species….(continued)

PhD, MS, and Honours students

Ilha Byrne

Spatio-temporal dynamics of Crown-of-Thorns and other echinoderm larvae on the GBR as revealed by eDNA

Supervisors: Riginos, Uthicke & Popovic

I completed my Bachelor of Science at the University of Queensland in mid-2020 and subsequently commenced my honours project with the Riginos Research Group…(continued)


Kimberley Dunbar 

Dispersal, gene flow, and range shifts of marine organisms

Supervisors: Riginos & Pandolfi Email:

Kimberley Dunbar completed an undergraduate Bachelor of Marine Science, culminating in an honours degree studying estuarine and marine ecosystems at James Cook University…(continued)

Vhon Garcia

Biogeography of Philippine marine snakes

Supervisors: Riginos & Cook Email:

Marine snakes offer an excellent system to examine speciation and evolutionary transitions among a various habitats…(continued)


Samantha Howitt

Genomic analysis of Crown-of-Thorns seastars

Supervisors: Riginos & Popovic

I am an honours student commencing February 2021, having majored in genetics throughout my undergraduate coursework....(continued)

Sinan-Saleh Kassam

Characterizing the cryptic species complex in Australia using genotype, phenotype, and environment 

Supervisors: Riginos & Ortiz-Barrientos Email:

Not being able to differentiate and effectively resolve cryptic species has significant implications for conservation genomics...(continued)


Chuan Lei

Hybrid speciation in anemonefishes

Supervisors: Hobbs, Cheney, & Riginos

Hybrid speciation has been believed to be important by botanists, but for animals, only until recently when more and more hybrid evidence based on genetics are being discovered, hybridization is gathering attention for its constructive role in animal evolution….(continued)


Katharine Prata

Delineating hard coral population structure in relation to the seascape

Supervisors: Riginos & Bongaerts Email:

Little is known about the spatial patterning of reef-building hard coral (Sclearactinia) populations…(continued)


Lab alumni


Thomas Huelsken

Fellow of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2010-2011)

Lisa Pope

UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2012-2014)

Eric Treml

Senior Lecturer at Deakin University

World Wildlife Foundation Fuller Fellow, ARC Fellow (2007-2011)

PhD students

Dean Blower, PhD 2020

Pim Bongaerts (Primary supervisor: Hoegh-Guldberg), PhD 2010 – Curator, California Academy of Sciences

Carmen da Silva (Primary supervisor: Wilson), PhD 2019 – Endeavour Fellow 

Jenny Giles, PhD 2014 – Shark Biologist and Wildlife Forensic Scientist

James Hereward (Primary supervisor: Gimme Walter), PhD 2013Research Associate, University of Queensland

Jude Keyse, PhD 2015 – Inala State High School

Libby Liggins, PhD 2014 – Senior Lecturer, Massey University 

Andrew Mather, PhD 2016 – Environmental consultant 

Ambrocio (Din) Matias, PhD 2019 – Assistant Professor, University of Philippines Diliman

Iva Popovic, PhD 2019 – Research Associate, University of Queensland

Danielle Shanahan (Primary supervisor: Possingham), PhD 2010

Joshua Thia (Supervisors: Riginos & McGuigan), PhD 2019 – Research Associate, University of Melbourne

MS students

Meredith Kraina, MS 2018

Adam Dinsdale (Primary supervisor: Buckley), MS 2012

Kristin Douglas, MS 2008

Chuan Lei, MS 2020

Honours students

Jenny Evans, 2018

Lucie Malard, 2014

Lachlan Gleeson, 2012

Gabriel Dominguez, 2011

Carrie Sims, 2011

Carla Meers, 2010

Andrew Mather, 2009

Anna Mirams, 2009

Janne Torkkola, 2009

Jolene Wong, 2008

Gwen David, 2007