Dr Camilla Whittington
University of Sydney
Camilla completed her PhD at the University of Sydney, followed by postdoctoral positions at the University of Zurich and the University of Sydney. She also spent time as a Fulbright Fellow at Washington University. Camilla is now a Senior Lecturer in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney. Her group’s research focuses on the evolution of pregnancy, using a combination of genomic, physiological, and morphological techniques. The research is funded by a University of Sydney Research Fellowship, L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science Fellowship, and the Australian Research Council.
Evolutionary innovations such as eyes, wings, and live birth (viviparity) are dramatic, adaptive novelties that have shaped the evolutionary trajectories of animals. However, their origins are poorly understood because they are produced by the collective action and evolution of thousands of genes. By applying genomic techniques to a targeted range of animals, my work aims to elucidate the genetic underpinnings of evolutionary innovations and to discover fundamental evolutionary mechanisms. Our current focus is on understanding the fundamental biology and repeated evolution of viviparity in vertebrates. I will discuss our studies of the transition from oviparity (egg laying) to viviparity in reptiles, mammals, and fish, including the male-pregnant seahorse. Our work suggests that there are common evolutionary mechanisms that underpin the development of novel traits across divergent species.