Below is a list of Researchers who conduct the laboratory work and write forensic reports. The best point of contact for all of our services is our email:
Wildlife forensics email contact
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Professor Mike Bunce
Trace and Environmental DNA lab, Department of Envoironment and Agriculture, Curtin University, Perth, WA
My research interests revolve around using ancient DNA to study evolutionary processes and using ancient DNA profiles to investigate past biodiversity. I have worked on a diverse variety of projects with the common theme of extracting and amplifying degraded DNA, these include studies of New Zealand’s extinct birds and obtaining DNA profiles from ice/sediment cores. The research in this lab are focused around using ancient DNA as a tool to profile past biodiversity and extinction events. Conservation and restoration of biodiversity is best achieved if we understand the past composition and function of the ecosystems we are trying to restore.
Mike is a member of the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science. More details about's Mike's research activities can be found at http://oasisapps.curtin.edu.au/staff/profile/view/Michael.Bunce
Mike can be contacted at Michael.Bunce “at” curtin.edu.au
Dr Nicole White
Thesis title: Molecular approaches used to infer evolutionary history, taxonomy, population structure, and illegal trade of white-tailed black-cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus spp.) in Australia
Overview of PhD research - Chockatoos are charismatic, iconic Australasian birds, yet this family (Cacatuidae) is inadequately understoon from a genetic perspective. The Western Australian white-tailed black-cockatoo (WTBC) has undergone a demographic decline due a combination of anthropogenic induced changes to habitat, poaching and shooting. Through extensive sequenicng of nuclear (nu) and mitochondrial (mt) genes (10 complete mt genomes, 138 mtDNA sequences, and 89 nuDNA sequences), in addition to developing microsatellite markers and DNA profiling 840 cockatoos, the aim of Nicole’s research program was to resolve the evolutionary history, taxonomy, and population structure of WTBC to assist with conservation and management and provide a molecular toolbox for policing the illegal trade and harvest from the wild.
Dr Megan Coghlan
Thesis title: Development of new molecular techniques for wildlife forensic applications
Overview of PhD research - Australia has strict set of guidelines that regulate the import, export and use of biologicals into the country and between state boundaries. The Illegal trade in wildlife is now the second most valuable illicit trade after the drugs trade and many of Australia‘s reptile, bird and mammal species are highly prized trophy species. Regrettably, Australia has no central agency who role it is to apply DNA technology to casework – as a result less than 1% of cases result in prosecution. The lack of prosecution is in part due to the absence of DNA based data for species identification and relatedness.
The primary goal of this research is to develop the molecular tools, techniques and processes that are required for effective border protection in Australia. Substrates will include Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is currently a major concern for customs. In addition, other illegal wildlife biologicals will also be assessed for DNA preservation.
Silvana TRIDICO - PhD candidate, forensic biologist and hair examiner
Thesis title: Morphological and molecular approaches to characterise post-mortem modifications relating to hairs in archaeological, paleontological and forensic contexts
Overview of PhD research - Hairs due to their structural and chemical composition are stable and can withstand harsh environmental insults. Microscopical examination and classification of morphological characteristics exhibited by hairs can provide valuable information regarding condition of the hair in relation to damage, artifacts and suitability for DNA analysis; however this technique does not provide any information regarding individualisation of the hair (to a particular person or animal) or to information regarding the geographic origins of the samples, or identify microbial species that might be present. The primary goal of this PhD program is to use a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the physical and molecular processes that occur to human and animal hair in the post-mortem environment.