Mark Tanaka



I am a mathematical and computational biologist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences (BABS). At UNSW I am also a member of the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre (E&ERC). I received my BSc(Hons) in genetics from the University of Sydney and my PhD in mathematical biology from Stanford University. My postdoctoral work at Emory University was in the area of microbial evolution.

A major component of my research programme concerns understanding how microbes including pathogens evolve. My research has considered topics such as mutation rates in pathogens and how they evolve; how antimicrobial resistance arises and the consequences of the fitness cost of resistance; the life-cycle of viruses; features of bacterial genomes such as mobile genes and gene clusters; and how microbes alter their environments and thus their own evolutionary trajectory. Another component of my research concerns analysis of genetic data from pathogen isolates collected in molecular epidemiology studies. My research group develops mathematical models which we use to make inferences from genetic and genomic data. I am also interested in human cultural evolution and modelling the interaction between behaviour and disease/health.

For more information about us please visit our lab website.

Professional service roles and affiliations

  • PLoS Computational Biology, Associate Editor
  • Theoretical Population Biology, Associate Editor
  • Genetics Society of AustralAsia, Society for Mathematical Biology, Member
  • Acting Head of School, BABS, 2018-2019
  • Deputy Head of School (Research Director), BABS, 2016-2018

Awards and Achievements

  • Future Fellowship (Australian Research Council) 2014-2018
  • Moran Medal, Australian Academy of Science (jointly with S. A. Sisson) 2011
  • QEII Fellowship (Australian Research Council) 2009-2013
  • Samuel Karlin Prize for PhD thesis, Stanford University
  • Charles Gilbert Heydon Scholarship, University of Sydney
  • Spencer Smith-White Prize, University of Sydney
  • University Medal, University of Sydney