Dr Rebecca Johnson

Key Info

  • Position Title
    Honorary Associate
  • Branch
    Australian Museum Research Institute

Rebecca is a Wildlife Forensic Scientist, conservation geneticist and was the former Chief Scientist of the Australian Museum. Rebecca was Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute from April 2015 until February 2020. Rebecca was the first female to hold this position in the AM's 190 year history. She is co-chief investigator of the Koala Genome Consortium, an Australian led group carrying out sequencing of the koala genome and it’s genes for direct conservation application and, as Director of AMRI, the co-founder of the Oz Mammals Genome Initiative.

She has an honours degree from the University of Sydney and PhD from La Trobe University Melbourne in the field of molecular evolutionary genetics and has worked as a molecular geneticist, in Australia and the USA before joining the museum in 2003. Since then she has established the Museum as one of the global leaders in the field of wildlife forensics and conservation genomics through the ISO17025 accreditation of the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics facilities (one of the only fully accredited wildlife forensics laboratories in the Australasian region). She is one of only two experts appointed by the Federal Environment Minister as an examiner in wildlife forensics under the EPBC commonwealth legislation section 303GS(1). In May 2016 she became an adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney.

Rebecca is a member of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences represents the Museum on more than 14 government and industry committees, including as Australian & New Zealand Forensic Science Society NSW Branch president, and Director of Membership & Outreach for the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science.

In July 2017 Rebecca was named one of the 30 inaugural “SuperStars of STEM”. She was awarded the 2016 University of Sydney, Faculty of Science Alumni Award for Professional Achievement and in September 2016 was also announced as one of The Australian Financial Review and Westpac “100 Women of Influence” in the Innovation category. Rebecca has also received a Chief Executive Women (CEW) scholarship to attend the INSEAD business school for executive leadership.

She is passionate about conservation, reducing the illegal wildlife trade and the importance of STEM education in contributing to positive environmental outcomes. She is frequently invited to present her research both in Australia and overseas and regularly presents to students and the public on the importance of conservation research, wildlife forensic science and the key roles and museums can play in making a difference through their science.

Professional Memberships:

  • Member, Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS)
  • NSW Branch President, Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS)
  • Director of Membership & Outreach, Society for Wildlife Forensic Science (SWFS)
  • Member, Genetics Society of Australia (GSA)
  • Member, International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG)
  • Member, International Society for Animal Genetics (ISAG)


  • BSc (Hons) University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  • PhD Molecular Evolutionary Genetics LaTrobe University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Certified Wildlife Forensic Scientist #124, Society for Wildlife Forensic Science
  • Appointed as a Wildlife Forensic Examiner by the Australian Federal Environment Minister under section 303GS(1) of Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Protection Act 1999


  • 2017 SuperStar of STEM, Science and Technology Australia
  • 2016 Chief Executive Women (CEW) Scholarship to attend INSEAD Business School
  • 2016 "100 Women of Influence" Innovation Category, The Australian Financial Review & Westpac
  • 2016 Faculty of Science Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, University of Sydney