Mitzy Pepper

I am interested in the way in which organisms evolved and diversified in response to severe and widespread aridification across the Australian continent over the past 15 million years. In particular my focus is on areas of the arid zone that have retained large amounts of genetic diversity due to their function as mesic refuges through time, and how long species have been able to persist there. The development of Australia's vast inland sand deserts was geologically recent (possibly in the last 1 million years) and this had enormous evolutionary consequences for organisms living here. Utilising my background in geology in combination with molecular systematics, I hope to better understand the relationship between geological and genetic landscapes, and the timing of diversification events across the Australian deserts.

Currently I am a postdoc in Scott Keogh's lab in the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University. As well as my arid zone research I am working with Scott and other collaborators on a number of projects, including a phylogeny for the African flat lizards (Platysaurus) and the Australian water skinks (Eulamprus).