Dr Leo Joseph

Director, Australian National Wildlife Collection; Group Leader, Vertebrate Collections

Contact details:

  • GPO BOX 1700


Leo joined CSIRO as Director of the Australian National Wildlife Collection in November 2005. Originally from Adelaide, he developed an early but lifelong interest in the evolution of birds, one that still guides his work today. He did his undergraduate and Honours degrees at the University of Adelaide in 1977-79 and 1981. Then he worked in Australia and travelled in South America until doing his PhD at the University of Queensland from 1989-1994 under the supervision of Dr Craig Moritz. For his thesis, he investigated the history of habitat diversity in eastern Australian rainforest birds. Then, from 1994-97, he held a Visiting Professorship in the Laboratorio de EvoluciĆ³n, Faculdad de Ciencias, Montevideo, Uruguay where he worked with Dr Enrique Lessa. There he developed interests in the evolution of migration. This work typified his interest in integrating ecological diversity and evolution. In 1997 he took up a position in the Department of Ornithology at the then Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in the USA and remained there until returning to Australia in 2005. In his current position, Leo has developed an extensive and growing network of collaborators whether they have been postdoctoral researchers, PhD students or Honours students and he has amassed a body of work on the phylogeography and more recent evolutionary history of Australo-Papuan birds. Most recently, his program has extended into understanding the genomic basis of adaptation in birds.

Current Roles

  • Group Leader
    Vertebrate Collections

  • Director
    Australian National Wildlife Collection

Academic Qualifications

  • 1979

    Bachelor of Science
    University of Adelaide

  • 1981

    Bachelor of Science (Honours)
    University of Adelaide

  • 1994

    University of Queensland

Professional Experiences

  • 1994-1997

    Visiting Professor
    Faculdad de Ciencias, Montevideo, Uruguay

  • 1997-2005

    Chair and Assistant Curator
    Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, USA

Achievements and Awards

  • 2009

    Whitley Award, Best Australian Natural History Book (shared)
    Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales

  • 1975-2018

    Serventy Medal for Publication in Australian Ornithology
    Birdlife Australia

Other highlights

  • 2007-2019

    Invited three times to give plenary lectures at the biennial Australasian Ornithological Conference

Related links


We have publications by Dr Leo Joseph