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About me

Hi. I'm a scientist interested in genetics and technology and how they affect our lives.

I am a Research Fellow in the Centre for Policy Futures at The University of Queensland - in Brisbane, Australia - with broad expertise in genetics including conservation genetics, ancient DNA, DNA forensics, and science communication.

I'm excited to be a recipient of the 2018 ABC Top 5 Scientists media residency award. (Link is here).

I'm interested in the ways that science and technology impact society, and how society influences the trajectory of science.

I’m particularly interested in privacy issues surrounding genomic data and other emerging technology. My research spans both science and humanities to look at some of the emerging ethical, legal and social issues being created by the advances in genetic technology, in order to inform policy debate on these important issues.

  • What are the new challenges being presented along with the advances in science and technology?

  • How can genetic data be integrated to society in a way that benefits everyone equitably?

 


Public engagement

I believe that effective communication is key to promoting a better understanding of science.

The 2018 Top 5 Scientist media residency award recipients. Link here


Our articles on genomics, technology, and society have been republished in 81 popular media outlets, including the ABC, SBS, and World Economic Forum.

(Click images for links to full articles)


 
 
 
 
 
 

*Our DNA facial prediction article (above) sparked quite a lot of discussion - and the article featured on a few radio shows and podcasts.

Our article 'DNA facial prediction could make protecting your privacy more difficult' was discussed on the  Dr Drew Midday Live Show  in Los Angeles - with a former US federal prosecutor. (They weren't too familiar with the technology and wondered if it was a thought exercise.)  Listen  here (it starts at minute 18:57).

Our article 'DNA facial prediction could make protecting your privacy more difficult' was discussed on the Dr Drew Midday Live Show in Los Angeles - with a former US federal prosecutor. (They weren't too familiar with the technology and wondered if it was a thought exercise.)

Listen here (it starts at minute 18:57).

Our article was also part of an interesting discussion on  The Future, This Week.  Listen  here (it starts at minute 24.30)

Our article was also part of an interesting discussion on The Future, This Week. Listen here (it starts at minute 24.30)

 
 

Australia’s regulation of gene editing technologies (such as CRISPR-Cas9) have recently been amended. We spoke with Nature News about that — and a link to that story (April 2019) is here:

 
Nature, April 23, 2019. Story by Smriti Mallapaty.

Nature, April 23, 2019. Story by Smriti Mallapaty.

 
 

I recently spoke with the Australian Academy of Science about some of the ethical dilemmas surrounding ancestry DNA testing, and some of the issues that I think we should be thinking about and talking about with our digital genetic data.

You can watch that here.

 

Another theme of my research is thinking about how society impacts science.

This is an interesting and important question. Our recent scientific paper describes an episode in history where politics, strong personalities, and confirmation bias impacted the trajectory of science and the study of evolution. Our paper has generated a fair bit of discussion in the articles below.

(Click images for links to full articles)

 
 

How does our collective fascination with DNA ancestry testing interact with our ideas and conversations about race?

ABC Radio National Live Science Podcast: Ockham’s Razor - recorded live at the World Science Festival,

Brisbane, Australia. March 22, 2019.

Link to listen to the podcast here:

Ockham’s Razor Science podcast, ABC Radio National , March 31 2019. (12 minutes). Listen  here   Topic:  DNA Ancestry testing and race

Ockham’s Razor Science podcast, ABC Radio National, March 31 2019. (12 minutes). Listen here

Topic: DNA Ancestry testing and race

 

I also created a piece for ABC Radio National's The Health Report, about forensic uses of open, crowd-sourced DNA databases.

(Click images for links to audio)

This is a report that I created during my residency at the ABC. (11 minutes). Listen  here

This is a report that I created during my residency at the ABC. (11 minutes). Listen here

 

I’ve spoken about our articles in a few recent radio and television interviews, and a few of these are included here.

(Click photos for links to interviews)

Spoke with  TripleJ HACK  (May 3, 2018). Listen  here

Spoke with TripleJ HACK (May 3, 2018). Listen here

Spoke with  Radio New Zealand  (April 3, 2019). (11 minutes) Listen  here   Topic:  Ancestry DNA testing: why it doesn’t define culture.

Spoke with Radio New Zealand (April 3, 2019). (11 minutes) Listen here

Topic: Ancestry DNA testing: why it doesn’t define culture.

 
Spoke with  Radio Adelaide  (April 10, 2019) (8 minutes) Listen  here   Topic:  Ancestry testing technology and how we think about who we are

Spoke with Radio Adelaide (April 10, 2019) (8 minutes) Listen here

Topic: Ancestry testing technology and how we think about who we are

Spoke with  2SER Radio, Sydney  (December 22, 2018). (7 minutes). Listen  here   Topic:  DNA phenotyping and policy implications

Spoke with 2SER Radio, Sydney (December 22, 2018). (7 minutes). Listen here

Topic: DNA phenotyping and policy implications

Spoke with  Radio Adelaide  (December 21, 2018). (8 minutes). Listen  here   Topic:  Protecting the privacy of our genetic data.

Spoke with Radio Adelaide (December 21, 2018). (8 minutes). Listen here

Topic: Protecting the privacy of our genetic data.

 
Interview on  The Nature of Things with Dr Matt Wright .  Radio 2SER 107.3  (Sydney, Australia). December 14, 2017. (7 minutes). Listen  here   Topic:  Who should have access to our digital genetic information?

Interview on The Nature of Things with Dr Matt Wright. Radio 2SER 107.3 (Sydney, Australia). December 14, 2017. (7 minutes). Listen here

Topic: Who should have access to our digital genetic information?

Interview on The Daily with Sean Britten.  Radio 2SER 107.3  (Sydney, Australia). January 26, 2018.  Topic:  What is a DNA marketplace with cryptocurrency?

Interview on The Daily with Sean Britten. Radio 2SER 107.3 (Sydney, Australia). January 26, 2018.

Topic: What is a DNA marketplace with cryptocurrency?

Interview on Mornings with Leon Compton.  ABC Radio Hobart  (Tasmania, Australia). October 5, 2017.  Topic:  How does DNA forensics work?

Interview on Mornings with Leon Compton. ABC Radio Hobart (Tasmania, Australia). October 5, 2017.

Topic: How does DNA forensics work?

 
Interview on   ABC Radio National's Life Matter   s  with Amanda Smith. February 6, 2018 (Australia-wide broadcast). Listen  here   Topic:  The benefits and potential downsides of direct-to-consumer DNA tests.

Interview on ABC Radio National's Life Matters with Amanda Smith. February 6, 2018 (Australia-wide broadcast). Listen here

Topic: The benefits and potential downsides of direct-to-consumer DNA tests.

Interview on Evenings with Kelly Higgins-Devine.  ABC Radio Brisbane.  (Queensland, Australia). January 23, 2018.  Topic:  How does direct-to-consumer DNA testing work and what are the risks?

Interview on Evenings with Kelly Higgins-Devine. ABC Radio Brisbane. (Queensland, Australia). January 23, 2018.

Topic: How does direct-to-consumer DNA testing work and what are the risks?

Interview on Statewide Drive with Fiona Wyllie.  ABC Radio New South Wales . (NSW, Australia). February 6, 2018.  Topic:  Direct-to-consumer DNA testing - what are the privacy issues?

Interview on Statewide Drive with Fiona Wyllie. ABC Radio New South Wales. (NSW, Australia). February 6, 2018.

Topic: Direct-to-consumer DNA testing - what are the privacy issues?

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Today Show, Channel 9. June 9 2018.

 
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ABC News August 13 2018,

 
 
Commercial DNA.

You leave your DNA everywhere you go. But the laws governing what happens to it is a long way behind the technology. Dr Caitlin Curtis is a genetic scientist from UQ, and was part of our 2018 Top 5 Scientists Media Residency Program.

Posted by ABC Science on Wednesday, August 15, 2018
 

I've provided commentary on issues relating to genetics and genomics for national and international news outlets.

(Click images for links)

Commentary for Reuters (LONDON). August 3 2018 - Link  here .

Commentary for Reuters (LONDON). August 3 2018 - Link here.

Commentary for ABC News.- June 7 2018 - Link  here

Commentary for ABC News.- June 7 2018 - Link here

Commentary for C/NET - March 22 2019 - Link  here

Commentary for C/NET - March 22 2019 - Link here

Commentary for ABC News - October 13 2018 - Link  here

Commentary for ABC News - October 13 2018 - Link here

 

I recently spoke at a Parliamentary Briefing about some of the privacy, legal and social issues raised by genomics at Queensland Parliament House.

Parliamentary Briefing: Understanding genomics in health care; Premiers' Hall, Queensland Parliament House. August 21 2018. Link  here .

Parliamentary Briefing: Understanding genomics in health care; Premiers' Hall, Queensland Parliament House. August 21 2018. Link here.

 

I recently gave a public lecture about our work:

Dr Caitlin Curtis. BrisScience Public Lecture. March 5, 2018. SouthBank, Brisbane, Australia.

Link here

Last year saw an incredible surge in demand for direct to consumer genetic tests - but it raises a lot of questions... - What exactly is a genetic test? - How is your privacy protected when you take a genetic test? - Do some companies make money selling your genetic data to third parties?

 

In September 2018, I participated in Data Privacy: the Public Debate, hosted by the UQ Debating Society and UQ Engineering and Technology.

Data Privacy: The Public Debate. presented by UQ Debating Society and UQ Engineering and Technology. September 19 2018.

Advanced Engineering Building; University of Queensland. Link here



In October 2018 we made a submission to the Australian Human Rights and Technology Project Consultation - by the Australian Human Rights Commission. Link to that project here.

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I’m happy to be involved in discussions of this important issue - and in October 2018, and April 2019 I will also be attending the round table to discuss the new Australian Government Data Sharing and Release Legislation - in relation to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet issues paper — information here.

 

I was honoured to have been invited to speak about trends in science at the Ideas Salon in the 2018 World Congress of Science & Factual Producers, in Brisbane.

Ideas Salon of the 2018 World Congress of Science & Factual Producers, Brisbane, Australia November 2018.  Link  here

Ideas Salon of the 2018 World Congress of Science & Factual Producers, Brisbane, Australia November 2018.

Link here

And I was happy to participate in the 72 hour Science Film Sprint, with the very talented animator Tessie Liddell, from the Griffith Film School.

(Link here)

 

Very honoured to have been selected to be one of the 2019 Queensland Flying Scientists - a collaboration with the Queensland Office of the Chief Scientist and Wonder of Science, to engage rural Queenslanders in science.

Read more about this excellent program here.

 

Here are some of my recent public speaking events:



Knock back a pint of science! The University of Queensland’s UQ News article about our participation in Pint of Science is here:

Australasian Science Education Research Association conference 2018. Link  here   Gold Coast, June 26-29 2018.

Australasian Science Education Research Association conference 2018. Link here

Gold Coast, June 26-29 2018.

Pint of Science Festival. Invited speaker. Link  here . Catchment Brewery, Brisbane.  May 16 2018. 7:00 - 9:30pm.

Pint of Science Festival. Invited speaker. Link here. Catchment Brewery, Brisbane.

May 16 2018. 7:00 - 9:30pm.

University of Queensland, School of Education. Invited guest seminar:  Public awareness of genomics and opportunities for education. Link  here   October 12 2018. 11:15 - 12:30pm

University of Queensland, School of Education. Invited guest seminar:

Public awareness of genomics and opportunities for education. Link here

October 12 2018. 11:15 - 12:30pm

University of Queensland. Guest lecturer: Responsible data science course (DATA7002). Link  here   Schools of Law, Information Technology & Electrical Engineering, Historical & Philosophical Inquiry, & Mathematics & Physics School. .  September 13 2018.

University of Queensland. Guest lecturer: Responsible data science course (DATA7002). Link here

Schools of Law, Information Technology & Electrical Engineering, Historical & Philosophical Inquiry, & Mathematics & Physics School. .

September 13 2018.

publications

My peer reviewed publication list

 

You can find more details at the following links:

Protecting trust in medical genetics in the new era of forensics

C Curtis, J Hereward, M Mangelsdorf, K Hussey, J Devereux

Genetics in Medicine 2018

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41436-018-0396-7

What does Australia’s investment in genomics mean for public health?

A Belcher, M Mangelsdorf, F McDonald, C Curtis, N Waddell, K Hussey

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2019

https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.2887

Enabling Privacy-Preserving Sharing of Genomic Data for GWASs in Decentralized Networks

Y Zhang, XZhao, X Li, M Zhong, C Curtis, C Chen

Proceedings of the Twelfth ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining, 2019

ACM Digital Library: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3290983

https://doi.org/10.1145/3289600.3290983

The Sacred Ibis debate: the first test of evolution

C Curtis, CD Millar, DM Lambert.

PLoS Biology 16(9): e2005558. 2018

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2005558

DNA fingerprinting in zoology: past, present, future

GK Chambers, C Curtis, CD Millar, L Huynen, DM Lambert

Investigative Genetics 5 (1), 3 2014

https://doi.org/10.1186/2041-2223-5-3

Radiocarbon dating of Sacred Ibis mummies from ancient Egypt

S Wasef, R Wood, S El Merghani, S Ikram, C Curtis, B Holland, ...

Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 4, 355-361

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2015.09.020

 

Genetic diversity despite population collapse in a critically endangered marine fish: the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata)

DD Chapman, CA Simpfendorfer, TR Wiley, GR Poulakis, C Curtis, ...

Journal of Heredity 102 (6), 643-652

https://doi.org/10.1093/jhered/esr098

 

Pleistocene population expansions of Antarctic seals

C Curtis, BS Stewart, SA Karl

Molecular Ecology 18 (10), 2112-2121

https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04166.x

 

Sexing pinnipeds with ZFX and ZFY loci

C Curtis, BS Stewart, SA Karl

Journal of Heredity 98 (3), 280-285

https://doi.org/10.1093/jhered/esm023

 

Genetically effective population sizes of Antarctic seals estimated from nuclear genes

C Curtis, BS Stewart, SA Karl

Conservation Genetics 12 (6), 1435-1446

https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-011-0241-x

 

Population structure and genetic diversity of invasive Phyla canescens: implications for the evolutionary potential

C-Y Xu S Tang, M Fatemi, CL Gross, M Julien C Curtis, RD van Klinken

EcoSphere 6 (9), 1-21

https://doi.org/10.1890/ES14-00374.1

 

Fifty-nine microsatellite markers for hybrid classification studies involving endemic Florida Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula fulvigula) and invasive Mallards (A. platyrhyn...

S Seyoum, MD Tringali, RR Bielefeld, JC Feddersen, RJ Benedict, ...

Conservation Genetics Resources 4 (3), 681-687

https://doi.org/10.1007/s12686-012-9622-9

 

Distribution, habitat use, and movements of juvenile smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata, in the Charlotte Harbor estuarine system, Florida

GR Poulakis, PW Stevens, AA Timmers, CJ Stafford, C Curtis, MD Tringali, ...

FLorida FIsh and Wildlife Report link: http://myfwc.com/media/200473/2010_Poulakisetal_F2616_sawfish_final_report.pdf

 

Population genetics of Antarctic seals

C Curtis

https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/etd/1918/

 

 
 

contact info

Let's get in touch! Twitter and LinkedIn work best - you can find the buttons below.

 

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