The Genetic Rescue of our Fantastic Beasts

Our world is home to a remarkable diversity of life, from the elusive pygmy possum of the Victorian Alps to the last remaining white rhinos of Africa. Yet, many of these magnificent creatures face a perilous future due to habitat destruction, climate change, and other human-driven factors. Fortunately, scientists from around the world are collaborating on new solutions in the race to protect these species from disappearing forever.

Presented in association with the XXIII International Congress of Genetics being held in Melbourne, experts in conservation genetics will examine the latest breakthroughs in genetic rescue. Join this exclusive conversation to explore cutting-edge research into genetics and genomics and learn how these innovations can preserve genetic diversity, restore populations of endangered animals and protect the precious biodiversity of our planet.

See Fantastic Beasts before the conversation. Book now with your ticket.  


Natasha Mitchell
Science Journalist and Presenter, Science Friction, ABC Radio National (RN)

Natasha Mitchell

Natasha Mitchell is a multi-award-winning journalist, radio presenter, podcaster, and audio storyteller specialising in science & society. She is host of the ABC Radio National's flagship Big Ideas program and podcast, was founding host and producer of the internationally renowned radio show and one of the ABC’s first podcasts, All in the Mind, which won the Grand Prize and four Gold World Medals at the New York Radio Festivals, amongst other awards. Natasha hosted the ABC's daily social affairs program Life Matters, and was founding host and producer of Science Friction, awarded Best Science and Medicine podcast at the Australian Podcast Awards. Natasha served as a board member and vice president of the World Federation of Science Journalists and was recipient of the prestigious MIT Knight Fellowship. She has facilitated many public forums around Australia, including four science dialogues with the Dalai Lama and guests. She has an engineering degree with first class honours, and a postgraduate diploma in science communication.


Dr Joanna Sumner
Senior Manager, Genetic Resources, Museums Victoria

Dr Joanna Sumner, Senior Manager, Genetic Resources, Museums Victoria

Dr Joanna Sumner is a conservation geneticist and has been involved in the fields of molecular ecology, population genetics and conservation biology for 25 years and loves the complementary nature of hands-in-the-dirt field research with genomic analyses. She is the Senior Manager of Genetic Resources at Melbourne Museum, managing the museum’s wildlife DNA collection and facilitating conservation, taxonomy and evolutionary genetic research in the DNA laboratory and Ian Potter Australian Wildlife BioBank. Joanna’s first love is reptiles, and she is in awe of their diversity and ingenuity in adapting to environments from the rainforest to the desert and is passionate about the vital need to conserve the exquisite diversity of life in our natural world.

Dr Marissa Parrott
Reproductive Biologist, Zoos Victoria

Dr Marissa Parrott at Melbourne Zoo

Dr Marissa Parrott is the Reproductive Biologist for Zoos Victoria, a zoo-based conservation organisation fighting extinction. Her research focuses on improving captive breeding and reintroduction success for endangered animals including marsupials, rodents and frogs. Marissa has been involved in a variety of wildlife and community conservation programs across Australia, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, and in 2018 was named an Australian Science Superhero by the Australian Government’s Office of the Chief Scientist. Marissa is passionate about supporting students in STEMM, improving conservation partnerships and outcomes, and upholding Zoos Victoria’s commitment that no Victorian terrestrial vertebrate species will ever go extinct.

Professor Anne WT Muigai
Professor of Genetics, Scientist, Board Member and International Expert Advisor

Anne Muigai
Professor Anne WT Muigai, Professor of Genetics, Scientist, Board Member and International Expert Advisor

Prof. Anne Muigai (BSc, MSc and PhD) is a molecular population geneticist with over 20 years of experience in research, academic and administrative management in the Kenyan public university sector. She is a Professor of Genetics, currently serving as the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs at the National Defence University-Kenya. Her research has focused on the use of molecular biology tools for the characterization and conservation of the indigenous farm animal genetic resources of Africa and mitigating the effects of climate change using improved indigenous sheep and goats of eastern Africa. She is the current Chairperson of the African BioGenome Project, a project that seeks to coordinate the sequencing of 10,000 indigenous African genomes with a view of documenting their biodiversity for sustainable use and conservation. She has also served as a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Advisory Committee to Develop Global Standards for Governance and Oversight of Human Genome Editing.

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