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. 

Megan can be contacted at Megan.Coghlan ‘at’ curtin.edu.au

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