Prestigious international grant awarded to Monash university researcher

Dr Kathryn Hodgins

Dr Kathryn Hodgins

A Monash researcher has received a highly competitive and prestigious international grant to study the genetic basis of behaviour.

The grant is from the Human Frontier Science program (HFSP) and is dedicated to funding ground-breaking research into complex biological systems.

Dr Kathryn Hodgins from the Monash School of Biological Sciences is part of a three-person team awarded a HFSP program grant of more than $1million US over three years.

Dr Hodgins and her collaborators Erik Andersen (Northwestern University) and Andre Brown (Imperial College London) will use their combined expertise to investigate the repeatability of the genetic mechanisms underlying behavioural evolution.

Dr Hodgins, who specialises in plant genomics, will apply methods she helped develop for comparing temperature adaptations in conifers to search for the genes that underlie the evolution of convergent behaviours across three species of roundworms of the genus Caenorhabditis.

“Since Darwin, biologists have posed the question: if the tape of life could be replayed, how often would it arrive at the same outcome?” Dr Hodgins said.

“We do not yet have a general answer, but when evolution is repeatable – affecting the same ‘knobs’ to tweak the trait variation of diverse species – it is easier to identify shared genetic mechanisms in a way that is not possible by studying a single species.“

Twenty-five teams out of 654 submissions won Program Grants in a year-long selection process in the global competition that involved more than 50 countries. Dr Hodgins was one of only two researchers based at an Australian university to be selected.

Further information about the project can be found at:

Dr Kathryn Hodgins can be contacted directly at, or telephone: +61 3 9905 0768.

Further information:
Silvia Dropulich
Marketing, Media & Communications Manager, Monash Science
T: +61 3 9902 4513 M: +61 (0) 0435138743