Jan Strugnell

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Jan Maree Strugnell
Jan at Carlini.jpg
Jan Strugnell at Carlini Base
Born (1976-09-14) September 14, 1976 (age 42)
Alma materBSc James Cook University
PhD University of Oxford
AwardsRhodes Scholarship
Scientific career
InstitutionsJames Cook University
WebsiteJan Strugnell at JCU [1]

Jan Maree Strugnell is an Australian evolutionary molecular biologist. She is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia. Strugnell’s work has investigated population and species level molecular evolution in Antarctic and deep sea species in the context of past geological and climatic change. Strugnell’s work also uses genetic tools to help solve bottlenecks in aquaculture and fisheries industries.

Early life and education[edit]

Strugnell grew up in Swan Hill in country Victoria, Australia. She attended Swan Hill Secondary College where she was joint dux.[1] Strugnell completed her undergraduate degree (BSc) from James Cook University in Townsville, where she received the University Medal and the Convocation medal.[2] After completing an honours degree in Aquaculture, investigating proximate composition of pearl oyster larvae she received a competitive Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University.[1] She was the first alumnus from James Cook University to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.[2]

At Oxford University, Strugnell was a member of Merton College and completed her DPhil within the Department of Zoology. The title of her thesis was “The molecular evolutionary history of the Class Cephalopoda (Phylum Mollusca)”.[3] During this time she represented Oxford University in both cricket and rugby union.[4][5]

Career and impact[edit]

Jan Strugnell at SCAR 2016 Wikibomb

Strugnell completed a postdoc funded by the Antarctic Funding Initiative (AFI) and the National Environment Research Council (NERC) at Queen's University Belfast and the British Antarctic Survey. She subsequently successfully competed for a Lloyd’s Tercentenary fellowship[6] and was based in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge from 2008-2009. She is currently at the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.

Strugnell has worked on the genetic basis of resilience and susceptibility to heat stress in commercially valuable abalone[7] and population genomics of rock lobsters[8] both funded by the Australian Research Council. Strugnell was the lead author of a study that discovered that a clade of the world’s deep-sea octopuses had their evolutionary origins in the Southern Ocean, demonstrating that the Southern Ocean has been an evolutionary source of taxa for other ocean basins.[9][10] This study was the first to quantify this link between Southern Ocean and deep sea taxa using genetic analyses.[11] This study estimated that the deep-sea clade of octopods diverged from the Southern Ocean clade more than 30 mya when Antarctica cooled and the global thermohaline circulation strengthened. This provided similar conditions in the deep sea (cold, nurient and oxygen rich) to that in the Southern Ocean enabling the octopods to colonise this environment and diversify.[11]

In addition, Strugnell’s work on Southern Ocean octopods detected genetic signatures between Ross Sea and Weddell Seas populations despite them being separated by 10,000 km of land.[12] This signature provides evidence for a historic seaway across Antarctica which forms during the collapse of the West Antarctic ice shelf.[12]

Strugnell’s contributions include editorial work for Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.[13] She is currently the Co-chair of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) Scientific Research Program 'State of the Antarctic Ecosystem' (AntEco)[14] and is on the National Committee for Antarctic Research in Australia.[15] In August 2016, Strugnell received considerable media attention in Australia as coordinator of SCAR's Wikibomb event, designed to provide better coverage of female Antarctic scientists. Under her leadership, over 100 biographies of women in Antarctic science were completed and are now posted on Wikipedia.[16][17] They are all included in the Wikipedia List of Antarctic women.

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Marine biologist wins Rhodes Scholarship". uq.edu.au. UQ News. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  2. ^ a b c "Outstanding Alumni". alumni.jcu.edu.au. James Cook University. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  3. ^ Strugnell, Jan Maree; University of Oxford (1 January 2004). "The molecular evolutionary history of the Class Cephalopoda (Phylum Mollusca)" – via Open WorldCat.
  4. ^ "Oxford University Women's Blues Committee". users.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  5. ^ "Outstanding Alumni page - Dr Jan Strugnell - James Cook University". alumni.jcu.edu.au. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  6. ^ "Lloyd's Tercentenary Research Foundation". lloyds.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  7. ^ http://alumni.jcu.edu.au/Strugnell2011
  8. ^ http://www.latrobe.edu.au/she/staff/profile?uname=jstrugnell
  9. ^ "Octopuses share 'living ancestor'". bbc.co.uk. 2008-11-09. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  10. ^ Gilbert, Natasha (7 November 2008). "Marine census discovers more than 200 new species". Nature news. doi:10.1038/news.2008.1216.
  11. ^ a b Marchall, Tom (2008-11-12). "Deep-sea octopuses' origin traced back to Antarctica". planetearth.nerc.ac.uk. Planet Earth Online.
  12. ^ a b "Octopus genes support theories of past changes in climate". abc.net.au. The Science Show - Radio National. 2013-04-24.
  13. ^ "Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution Editorial Board". journals.elsevier.com. Elsevier. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  14. ^ "Membership". scar.org. State of the Antarctic Ecosystem (AntEco). Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  15. ^ "National Committee for Antarctic Research". www.science.org.au. Australian Academy of Science. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  16. ^ Strugnell, Jan; Shafee, Thomas; Wilson, Nerida; Downey, Rachel; Stevens, Craig; Shaw, Justine; Baeseman, Jenny (10 August 2016). "Profiles: Kudos for female Antarctic researchers". Nature. 536: 148–148. Bibcode:2016Natur.536Q.148S. doi:10.1038/536148b. PMID 27510214.
  17. ^ "Wikibomb celebrates women in Antarctic science". Australian Antarctic Division. 18 August 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  18. ^ "Best Scientific Paper Award". abdn.ac.uk. Cephalopod International Advisory Council. Archived from the original on 2017-01-27. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  19. ^ "List of Scholars". rhodesproject.com. Retrieved 2016-06-10.

External links[edit]