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Dr Leo Joseph

Director, Australian National Wildlife Collection


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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. In Uruguay, 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. From 2003, he was Chair of the Department but returned to Australia in 2005. In his current position, Leo has developed an extensive and growing network of collaborators. These have ranged from fellow researchers in Australia, Europe and North America including postdoctoral researchers, PhD students and Honours students. 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. He was awarded the D. L. Serventy Medal for Publication in Australian Ornithology in 2018. In 2020 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Ornithological Societies.

Current Roles

  • Director, 2005 - present
    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

  • 2015-2023

    Group Leader, Vertebrate Collections
    National Research Collections Australia

  • 1997-2005

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

  • 1994-1997

    Visiting Professor
    Faculdad de Ciencias, Montevideo, Uruguay

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

  • 2020-ongoing

    American Ornithological Society

  • 2015-ongoing

    Honorary Life Member
    South Australian Ornithological Association

Other highlights

  • 2007-2019

    Invited plenary speaker, Australasian Ornithological Conference, 2007, 2015, 2019

  • 1997-2005

    Curator, Chair, Department of Ornithology, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia USA

  • 2005-ongoing

    Director, Australian National Wildlife Collection, CSIRO, Canberra

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • 2015-2023

    Group Leader, Vertebrate Collections, CSIRO National Research Collections Australia

  • 2008-2018

    Member, Council of the Heads of Australian Faunal Collections

  • 2015-2018

    Chair, Council of the Heads of Australian Faunal Collections

  • 2019-2020

    Associate Editor, Journal of Biogeography

  • 2009-2012

    Associate Editor, The Auk

  • 2005-ongoing

    Associate Editor, Emu - Austral Ornithology

  • 2013-ongoing

    Member, Night Parrot Recovery Team

  • 2016-2018

    Assessor, CSIRO Research+ Postdoctoral Scheme

Related links

We have publications by Dr Leo Joseph