2016 Woodward medal goes to mathematical geneticist

Associate Professor Stephen Leslie

Associate Professor Stephen Leslie from the School of Mathematics and Statistics and the School of BioSciences, and a member of the Centre for Systems Genomics, is the recipient of the 2016 Woodward Medal in Science and Technology for his research into the fine-scale genetic structure of the British population.

The medal is one of two awarded annually by the University of Melbourne to a member of staff for research published in the previous five years that has made the most significant contribution to knowledge in a field of science and technology or humanities and social sciences.

Assoc. Prof. Leslie was recognised for his study using newly developed statistical approaches to reveal at unprecedented levels of detail the subtle genetic differences between people from different regions of the British Isles, which was reported in the journal Nature. This study marks the first such analysis of fine-scale (within a single country) genetic differences and their historical origins in a human population. Assoc. Prof. Leslie's work provides new insights into the movement of people from Europe into the British Isles, and provides a methodology that is readily extended to analyses in other populations, with important consequences for our understanding of historical movements of human populations, as well as implications for the design of genetic studies into the stratification of disease prevalence in such populations.

Assoc. Prof. Leslie is a statistician working in the field of mathematical genetics. He obtained his doctorate in statistics from the University of Oxford, and after graduating remained in Oxford for several years as a post-doctoral fellow. In 2012 he returned to Australia to establish his own research group at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute as the Group Leader in Statistical Genetics. He is currently a core research group leader in the Centre for Systems Genomics at the University of Melbourne.

The Medal will be awarded as a part of a graduation ceremony at the end of the year.