Professor Bill Ballard
Ballard Lab Website: http://billb.babs.unsw.edu.au/
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- 2013-current: Professor, School of BABS
- 2008-2013: Professor & Head of School, BABS
- 2006-2008: Professor, School of BABS
- 2001-2006: Professor, University of Iowa
- 1998-2001: Pritzker Curator, The Field Museum, Chicago
- 1995-1998: Assistant Curator, The Field Museum, Chicago
Ballard's research is focused but has broad application in the fields of population genetics and ageing. He has published significant invited reviews e.g. Ballard and Rand (2005), Ballard and Whitlock (2004). Notable among these is Ballard and Whitlock, which has been cited over 280 times and is now recognised as an ISI Citation Classic.
In the field of population genetics his work has informed the debate questioning whether biological species can be defined on the basis of mitochondrial DNA (Ballard and Rand (2005), Ballard (2004) and Ballard and Whitlock (2004)). He was the first to show that mtDNA can influence multiple life-history traits, including lifespan, development time, physical activity and frequency of genotypes in population cages (James and Ballard (2003), Ballard et al. (2007)). Examination of the evolutionary forces that influence mitochondrial DNA continues to be relevant with the increasing use of 'DNA Barcoding' to describe species diversity.
In the field of ageing, Ballard has questioned how and why specific mutations influence bioenergetics. He has recently published the quaternary structure model of Drosophila Complex IV of the electron transport chain. This enables him to make functional predictions of specific mutations. Over the past five years, he has developed a battery of assays necessary for the detection of bioenergetic differences within a single species of Drosophila (Ballard et al. 2007; Melvin and Ballard 2006; Ballard et al. 2007). These assays will be used in future studies linking bioenergetics with diet. In February 2008 he collaborated on a PNAS paper that was the first use of the Geometric Framework to explore diet restriction and longevity in Drosophila (Lee et al. 2008).
Honours & Awards
- Foundation Director Roy J Carver Centre for Comparative Genomics, University of Iowa
- Pritzker Chair of Biosystematics, The Field Museum, Chicago
- NSF CAREER Special Creativity Extension (this award is unsolicited and is extremely rare; it followed an NSF CAREER Grant that was ranked the highest in its round)
- NH&MRC CJ Martin Postdoctoral Fellow
Active Research Projects
- Influence of Diet on Parkinsonism
- Inheritance of Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
- Animals That Eat Less Live Longer – Up to a Point
- Genetic Variation in the Dingo