In The Field

Journalism: Wallaby-ology

Being in Australia, I’ve been keeping my eye out for quintessential Aussie research – and researchers. Today I met Marilyn Renfree, the Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics. She studies developmental biology and uses wallabies as an animal model. This makes a lot of sense since newborn wallabies, being marsupials, are essentially in an embryonic state when they’re born. Unlike humans, they don’t becoming male or female until well after they’ve been born. So, for Marilyn, the wallaby is a perfect model for studying the endocrine pathways controlling sexual differentiation. Interesting, certainly. But what I really appreciated was that, instead of calling herself something unwieldy like a Developmental Endocrinologist, a Mammalian Endocrinologist or a Marsupial Physiologist she simply called herself a Wallaby-ologist. Crickey!

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