University of Sydney
Research Field: Biology
Dr Simon Ho studies evolution at a genetic level. By studying DNA from a variety of organisms he is able to estimate the timescale of their evolutionary history. This involves using a concept called the ‘molecular clock’, which are statistical models describing how rates of evolution vary among organisms – for example, the propensity for DNA to mutate quickly in small mammals and slowly in large animals.
Using molecular clocks Simon has been able to study the impacts of past climatic events and human hunting on animal populations, the emergence of different plant pathogens and the timing of animal domestication events. He has also used molecular clocks to analyse human origins, including the timing of our prehistoric migrations across the globe.
Simon has presented his research to a wide audience through print, radio and in person and has even been a voluntary scientific consultant to a dance production for the Sydney Festival.