Biological sciences

seal on snow looking at cameraIn ERA 2015, research in biological sciences received a rating of 4 out of 5—‘performance above world standard’—for the discipline overall. Macquarie also received the top rating of 5—‘outstanding performance well above world standard’—for the sub-discipline research areas of ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics and plant biology.

This places Macquarie in the top three Australian institutions for evolutionary biology research—having received a rating of 5 in all three ERA evaluations— and among the top eight institutions for genetics research.

University strengths

Within biological sciences, Macquarie’s research is chiefly focused around ecology and evolution, and biomolecular sciences. Three of Macquarie’s research centres—Biomolecular Frontiers, Climate Futures and Genes to Geoscience—contribute to these strengths.

Macquarie’s ecology and evolution research focuses on plant ecological strategies, biodiversity and conservation, climate change, coastal processes, conservation genetics, evolutionary animal behaviour, microbial genomics, and planning and risk analysis.


Much research within this area is underpinned by world-class infrastructure and technical support in the Australian Proteomics Analysis Facility (APAF)—funded under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS)—which provides cutting-edge development in protein analysis technologies and attracts over 500 individual researchers to the facility each year.

Macquarie is host to other NCRIS facilities such as a node of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network, the Integrated Marine Observing System and Bioplatforms Australia. Macquarie is a major partner in the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) and the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP).


Macquarie’s biomolecular sciences research has strengths in genomics, proteomics, glycomics, biochemistry, bioinformatics, microbiology, and biotechnology and their applications to health, environmental and industrial issues. For example, our researchers have made major contributions in discovering the genetic origins of cancers (including melanoma and breast cancer) and neurodegenerative diseases including motor neurone disease and frontotemporal dementia. The Biomolecular Frontiers Research Centre integrates these disciplines, and encourages collaboration between researchers with complementary expertise.


Award winners include

  • Professor Ian Wright (Thomson Scientific Citation Award in ecology) for the Australian with the highest citation rate per paper
  • Distinguished Professor Mark Westoby, who was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2009, awarded an Australian Laureate Fellowship in 2010 and named 2014 NSW Scientist of the Year.

National research centres

ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale Biophotonics (CNBP) 

ARC Training Centre for Molecular Technology in the Food Industry 

  • Professor Paul Haynes (Director)

Australian Proteome Analysis Facility (APAF) 

  • Associate Professor Mark Molloy (Director)

National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) 

  • Distinguished Professor Lesley Hughes

Macquarie University Research Centres

Biomolecular Discovery and Design Research Centre

(formerly Biomolecular Frontiers Research Centre)

Climate Futures

Genes To Geoscience

Biosecurity Futures

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