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Dr Alexander Schmidt-Lebuhn

Research Scientist


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Alexander's research interests include the systematics and evolution of flowering plants, in particular of Asteraceae (daisy family), and application of computer vision to species identification in taxonomy, collection science, and biosecurity.

He uses DNA sequence data to resolve phylogenetic relationships and understand the evolution of native Australian plants. He is currently lead of the Phylogenomics Bioinformatics Working Group for the Australian Angiosperm Tree of Life initiative, leads an ABRS funded project on the taxonomy of the genus Chrysocephalum with colleagues at UNE, and supervises a CERC R+ project that applies taxonomic and phylogenetic expertise and data in support of biological control research, with colleagues at CSIRO Heath & Biosecurity.

Alexander has delivered specimen images from CSIRO's collections and image classification models to the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries to enable mobile identification of biosecurity threats. He led CSIRO's contribution to WeedScan, Australia's first national weed identification and reporting system, which included weed photography, app development, and the image classification model.

Alexander studied biology at the University of Göttingen, Germany, and obtained a doctorate with research on the South American mint genus Minthostachys. After postdoctoral work at the University of Halle and the University of Zürich he joined CSIRO in 2010.

Fields of Research

Academic Qualifications

  • 2005

    Dr. rer. nat. (~Ph.D.)
    University of Göttingen

  • 2002

    Diplom-Biologe (~honours)
    University of Göttingen

Professional Experiences

  • 2020-ongoing

    Senior Research Scientist

  • 2010-2020

    Research Scientist

  • 2009-2010

    Postdoctoral Research Assistant
    University of Zürich

  • 2006-2008

    Postdoctoral Research Affiliate
    University Halle-Wittenberg

  • 2006-2006

    Contract Work
    Free University Berlin

  • 2002-2005

    Postgraduate studies
    University of Göttingen


  • 2021-2022

    Biosecurity Innovation Program grant for further development of image recognition of biosecurity risks.

  • 2020-2023

    CSIRO Future Science Platform Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence subproject on feature extraction from specimen images, with Juanita Rodriguez.

  • 2020-2022

    CSIRO Future Science Platform Environomics project on sequence capture, with Andreas Zwick, Katharina Nargar, Cecile Gueidan, Juanita Rodriguez, Bryan Lessard, Stephen Bent, Todd McLay.

  • 2020-2022

    National Landcare Program grant, Weed identification App, coordinated by CISS, with state government partners.

  • 2019-2020

    Biosecurity Innovation Program grant for image recognition of biosecurity risks.

  • 2019-2019

    Digital and Domain: Automated Biosecurity support project prototyping image recognition of pests and weeds.

  • 2017-2019

    CSIRO Future Science Platform Environomics project, with Francisco Encinas Viso (lead), Bryan Lessard, Juanita Rodriguez Arrieta, Anna Simonsen, and Andreas Zwick

  • 2017-2020

    ABRS NTRGP project, with Jeremy Bruhl (lead), Rose Andrew, and Ian Telford

  • 2017-2018

    GISERA Queensland Project Grant, with Francisco Encinas-Viso

  • 2016-2019

    NSW Environmental Trust Fund grant 2015/RD/0004, with David Taylor (lead), Greg Baines, Lydia Guja, Keith McDougal, Mark Ooi, Cathy Offord, and John Siemon

  • 2016-2017

    ABRS BushBlitz Strategic Taxonomy Grant, with Anthony Orchard

  • 2016-2016

    Commonwealth Services Contract to develop identification key to seeds of weedy daisies for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

  • 2015-2015

    CBA Training Support Grant for Phylogenomics workshop, with Celeste Linde

  • 2014-2015

    CBA Ignition Grant, with Adrienne Nicotra

  • 2013-2014

    CBA Ignition Grant, with Justin Borevitz

  • 2006-2008

    Individual grant SCHM 2449/1-1 of the DFG (Germany)

  • 2002-2005

    Postgraduate scholarschip of the FES (Germany)

  • 1997-2002

    Undergraduate scholarship of the FES (Germany)

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • 05/2019-current

    Lab coordinator, Australian National Herbarium

  • 10/2019-01/2020

    Acting Team Leader, Plant Systematics and Population Genetics

  • 07/2014-05/2017

    Coordinator of NRCA Vacation Scholarship Program

We have publications by Dr Alexander Schmidt-Lebuhn