Research Supervisor Connect

The Evolution of Viral Emergence


• Understanding the evolutionary mechanisms by which viruses cross species boundaries and emerge in new hosts.
• Revealing the evolutionary and ecological determinants of viral emergence.
• Evolutionary (largely phylogenetic) analysis of viral gene sequence data.


Professor Edward Holmes.

Research location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program type



Determining the factors that allow some viruses to jump species boundaries and emerge in new hosts more readily than others is one of the key issues in the study of disease emergence.  For example, why is it that influenza viruses are able to jump to humans from birds and pigs, and sometimes spread widely among us, while viruses like Ebola or West Nile seem unable to?  Knowledge of this kind is essential because it will help us to predict, prevent, and control major disease epidemics in the future.   This project will use the evolutionary analysis of virus gene sequence data to investigate why some types of virus seem intrinsically better able to cross species boundaries than others and the evolutionary determinants of this process.  In particular, the project will examine the evolutionary and ecological factors that facilitate successful cross-species virus transmission.  As data sets the project will focus on a diverse range of human and animal viruses, including influenza viruses, hantaviruses and coronaviruses.

Additional information

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

Want to find out more?

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1799

Other opportunities with Professor Edward Holmes