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Dr Sarah Mathews

Visiting Scientist


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GPO BOX 1700


Sarah combines phylogenetics, molecular evolution, and genomics to understand plant speciation and adaptation. She studied hybridisation in Indian-painbrushes and developed novel nuclear markers for plant phylogenetics during her MSc and PhD degrees from Montana State University. She went from there to Harvard University as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow to work on the phylogenetics of basal angiosperms. From 2000-2003 Sarah was an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and then returned to Harvard University as a Sargent Fellow of the Arnold Arboretum, where she was Principal Investigator of a lab with research projects in phylogenetics, molecular evolution, and plant responses to red and far-red light. In July 2014, she moved to the Australian National Herbarium in CSIRO, where she is using genomic approaches to understand and characterise Australia's biodiversity.
(Link to CV and full publication list at bottom of page.)

Other Interests

Sarah is leading two new projects, one that aims to understand the evolution of Australian species of Hibiscus and closely related genera and to develop tools to understand the plant family to which it belongs (which includes the plants that produce cotton and cocoa), and one that is exploring the use of microRNA detection to monitor plant stress.

Achievements and Awards

  • 2016

    Elected Fellow of AAAS
    American Association for the Advancement of Science

Professional Areas

Current Roles

  • Visiting Scientist
    Plant Evolution, Systematics, and Ecology

Academic Qualifications

  • 1995

    Montana State University

  • 1990

    Montana State University

Professional Experiences

  • 2019-present

    Professor, Shirley C Tucker Chair in Plant Systematics
    Louisiana State University

  • 2015-2020

    Honorary Associate Professor
    ANU Research School of Biology

  • 2014-2019

    Senior Research Scientist

  • 2003-2014

    Senior Research Fellow
    Harvard University

  • 2000-2003

    Assistant Professor
    University of Missouri, Columbia

  • 1997-2000

    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Harvard University

  • 1995-1997

    NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Biosciences Related to the Environment
    Harvard University


  • 2017-2020

    ABRS: NTRGP-154: “An eFlora treatment for Australian Hibiscus and novel genomic markers for addressing taxonomic challenges in Malvaceae sensu lato”. (Lead PI).

  • 2017-2020

    CSIRO Future Science Platforms (Environomics): “Rapid assessment of environmental stress for key Australian plant groups”. (Lead PI)

  • 2017-2020

    CSIRO Future Science Platforms (SynBio): “In vitro resynthesis of the lichen symbosis as a useful system for synthetic biology”. (Co-PI)

  • 2014-2016

    NSF: IOS-1416825, Plant Genome Research Program: “Comparative genomics of a species radiation: sequencing the apple tribe”. (Lead PI)

  • 2010-2015

    NSF: DEB-1020868: “Biogeographical and ecological diversification of trees across the Indonesian archipelago: developing indigenous leadership in biodiversity informatics.” (Co-PI with Lead PI Campbell O. Webb)

  • 2006-2013

    NSF: EF-0629890: "Collaborative Research: Gymnosperms on the Tree of Life: Resolving the phylogeny of seed plants”. (Lead PI)

  • 2002-2005

    NSF: DEB-0215780: “Phylogeny of Orobanchaceae sensu lato inferred from phytochromes and other data: implications for the evolution of parasitism”. (PI)

  • 2002-2005

    NSF: IBN-0214449: “Adaptive evolution in the photoreceptor phytochrome A and its role in the ecological success of the first angiosperms”. (PI)

  • 2001-2003

    University of Missouri Research Board: “Evolution and expression of phytochrome genes in parasites”. (PI)

  • 1998-2001

    NSF: DEB-9806397: “Duplicate genes and plant phylogeny”. (Co-PI with PI Michael J Donoghue)

  • 1995-1997

    NSF: Postdoctoral Research Award in Biosciences Related to the Environment: “The evolution of phytochrome genes in early-diverging angiosperms”

We have publications by Dr Sarah Mathews