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Christopher Austin

Christopher Austin

Associate Curator of Herpetology
LSU Museum of Natural Science
Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences

What was your previous position and where?

I was an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota.

What brought you to LSU?

LSU is one of only a few universities smart enough to have an on-campus natural history museum. The LSU Museum of Natural Science, combined with an outstanding Department of Biological Sciences, was a huge draw for me. The museum environment, with a dedication to biodiversity research combined with the material and intellectual infrastructure of a large biology department at a great university like LSU, makes my position one of the top 10 jobs in the world I would want.

What is your research interest?

My research is collections-based with extensive fieldwork and laboratory work. I use molecular genetic data to understand the patterns and processes that drive biodiversity. Specifically, my students and I study population genetics, systematics, biogeography, phylogeography and physiological and functional ecology of amphibians and reptiles.

What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?

I plan to make the LSU Museum of Natural Science one of the leading U.S. museums in herpetological biodiversity research.

What do you enjoy most about LSU?

Training the next generation of biologists is one of the things that gives me the most joy. Iíve been lucky enough to have outstanding graduate and undergraduate students work in my laboratory.

What are your major accomplishments?

In addition to student training, publications and attracting federal support for my research, while at LSU Iíve conducted four research expeditions to New Guinea, totaling more than eight grueling months in the field. These expeditions have provided the material that is the foundation for our biodiversity research. In addition, we have identified more than 30 species new to science. Contributing to future generations is important to me. Iím convinced that a century from now our planet will be far different than the one we see today. The specimens, digital photos, sound recording and genetic material Iíve collected all over the world will be used by researchers 200 years from now to understand our changing planet.


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