Natalie Schmitt


Visiting Scientist

Undergraduate studies in Zoology and Botany at the University of Western Australia

PhD in Zoology at the Australian National University and Australian Antarctic Division

Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences
McMaster University
Health Science Centre, Room 4H32
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4K1

icon_phone 905.525.9140 ext.28813
icon_fax 905.522.9033


Brief Biography:

I’m a conservation genetic scientist, science presenter and documentary film enthusiast. My passion is exploring new genetic techniques to assist in the monitoring of rare and elusive species as well as developing holistic and community-driven solutions to conservation. Through my PhD with the Australian Antarctic Division and involvement in projects on endangered species, I have conducted international collaborative research which has, and will improve our understanding of population structure, animal movement and behaviour; providing scientific advice to inform Australia’s policy position at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and assist in the conservation of Australia’s endangered marsupials. As an international science presenter and documentary film maker with Discovery Channel and National Geographic, I have worked in developing countries and have seen the close relationship between poverty and unsustainable practices which have greatly impacted species biodiversity. By empowering people in the right way we can achieve amazing things in conservation. My passion is also in combining art with conservation science to educate and inspire people on the interconnectedness of all things and the importance of conservation work.

I’m currently working on a project with the LiLab as an independent, self funded scientist, in collaboration with Panthera and the Centre for Molecular Dynamics, Nepal which may revolutionise the monitoring of endangered species in the field and through illegal trade.


Nen-That, F.M.L., Power, C., Schmitt, N., Chariton, A., Nowak, B., Bott, N. In preparation. Freeze-drying material improves DNA extraction efficiency. MethodsX.

Donnelly, D.M., Ensor, P., Gill, P., Evans, K., Double, M., Schmitt, N.T. In Press. New diagnostic descriptions and distribution of Shepherd’s Beaked whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi). Marine Mammal Science.

Olson, P.A., Bott, N., Olavarria, C., Andrews, O., Constantine, R., Schmitt, N., Ensor, P., Miller, B.S., Weir, J., Childerhouse, S., van der Linde, M., Double, M.C. 2016. New Zealand blue whales: An update on residency and behaviour. Report submitted to the IWC Scientific Committee. Bled, Slovenia

Constantine, R., Anderson, M., Andrews, O., Andrews-Goff, V., Baker, C.S., Childerhouse, S., Clapham, P., Dodemont, R., Donnelly, D., Double, M., Gallego, R., Garrigue, C., Gibbs, N., Hauser, N., Lindsay, R., Mattila, D., Poole, M., Riekkola, L., Robbins, J., Schmitt, N., Steel, D., Tremlett, J., Vindenes, S., Ward, J., Zerbini, A. 2016. Humpback whale connectivity: Preliminary findings on the Oceania to Antarctica migration path via the Kermadec Islands. Report submitted to the IWC Scientific Committee. Bled, Slovenia

Double, M.C., Miller, B.S., Leaper, R., Olson, P., Cox, M.J., Miller, E., Calderan, S., Collins, K., Donnelly, D., Ensor, P., Goetz, K., Schmitt, N., Andrews-Goff, V., Bell, E., O’Driscoll, R. 2015. Cruise report on blue whale research from the NZ/Aus Antarctic Ecosystems Voyage 2015 of the Southern Ocean Research Partnership. Report SC/66a/SH/7 submitted to the IWC Scientific Committee. San Diego, USA.

Olson, P.A., Schmitt, N., Ensor, P., Collins, K., Donnelly, D., Leaper, R., Calderan, S., Miller, B.S., Goetz, K. and Double, M.C. 2015. Photo-identification of Antarctic blue whales during the New Zealand-Australia Antarctic Ecosystems Voyage 2015. Report submitted to the IWC Scientific Committee. San Diego, USA.

Olson, P.A., Ensor, P., Olavarria, C., Bott, N., Constantine, R., Weir, J., Childerhouse, S., van der Linde, M., Schmitt, N.T., Miller, B.S. and Double, M.C. 2015. New Zealand blue whales: information on residency, morphology, and feeding behaviour of a little-known population. Pacific Science 69(4):477-485.

Schmitt, N.T., Double, M.C., Baker, C.S., Gales, N.,  Childerhouse, S.,  Polanowski, A.M., Steel, D., Albertson, R., Olavarria, C., Garrigue, C., Poole, M., Hauser, N., Constantine, R., Paton, D., Jenner, C.S., Jarman, S.N. and Peakall, R. 2014. Mixed-stock analysis of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on Antarctic feeding grounds. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management.14(1): 141–157.

Miller, B.S., Barlow, J., Calderan, S., Collins, K., Leaper, R., Olson, P., Ensor, P., Peel, D., Donnelly, D., Andrews-Goff, V., Olavarria, C., Owen, K., Rekdahl, M., Schmitt, N.T., Wadley, V., Gedamke, J., Gales, N. and Double, M.C. 2015. Validating the reliability of passive acoustic localisation: a novel method for encountering rare and remote Antarctic blue whales. Endangered Species Research 26: 257-269.

Schmitt, N.T., M.C. Double, S.N. Jarman, N. Gales, D. Paton, K.C.S. Jenner, M.-N.M. Jenner, C.S. Baker, D. Steel, R. Gales, J.R. Marthick, A.M. Polanowski and R. Peakall. 2014. Low levels of genetic differentiation characterize Australian humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) populations. Marine Mammal Science 30 (1): 221-241.

Constantine, R., Steel, D., Allen, J., Anderson, M., Andrews, O., Baker, C.S., Beeman, P., Burns, D., Charrassin, J-B., Childerhouse, S., Double, M., Ensor, P., Franklin, T., Franklin, W., Gales, N., Garrigue, C., Gibbs, N., Harrison, P., Hauser, N., Hutsel, A., Jenner, C., Jenner, M-N., Kaufman, G., Macie, A., Mattila, D., Olavarria, C., Oosterman, A., Paton, D., Poole, M., Robbins, J., Schmitt, N.T., Stevick, P., Tagarino, A., Thompson, K. and Ward, J. 2014. Remote Antarctic feeding ground important for east Australian humpback whales. Marine Biology. DOI 10.1007/s00227-014-2401-2.

Double, M., J. Barlow, B. Miller, P. Olson, V. Andrews-Goff, R. Leaper, P. Ensor, N. Kelly, M. Lindsay, D. Peel, S. Calderan, K. Collins, M. Davidson, C. Deacon, D. Donnelly, C. Olavarria, K. Owen, M. Rekdahl, N. Schmitt, V. Wadley, and N. Gales. 2013. Cruise report of the 2013 Antarctic blue whale voyage of the Southern Ocean Research Partnership. Report SC65a/SH/21 submitted to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission. Jeju Island, Republic of Korea.

Steel, D., N.T. Schmitt, M. Anderson, D. Burns, R. Constantine, W. Franklin, T. Franklin, C. Garrigue, N. Gibb, N. Hauser, D. Mattila, C. Olavarria, D. Paton, M. Poole, J. Robbins, J. Ward, P. Harrison, P. Baverstock, M.C. Double and C.S. Baker. 2011. Genotype matching of humpback whales from the 2010 Australia/New Zealand Antarctic Whale Expedition (Area V) to the South Pacific. Report submitted to the IWC Scientific Committee. Jersey, U.K.

Polanowski A.M., Schmitt N.T., Double M.C., Gales N.J., Jarman S.N. (2011) TaqMan assays for genotyping 45 single nucleotide polymorphisms in the humpback whale nuclear genome. Conservation Genetics Resources DOI: 10.1007/s12686-011-9424-5.

Constantine, R., J. Allen, P. Beeman, D. Burns, S. Childerhouse, M.C. Double, P. Ensor, T. Franklin, W. Franklin, N. Gales, C. Garrigue, E. Gates, N. Gibbs, A. Hutsel, C. Jenner, M. Jenner, G. Kaufman, A. Macie, D. Mattila, A. Oosterman, D. Paton, J. Robbins, P. Stevick, N.T. Schmitt, A. Tagarino and K. Thompson. 2011. Comprehensive photo-identification matching of Antarctic Area V humpback whales. Report submitted to the IWC Scientific Committee. Jersey, U.K.

McLean, I.G., Cameron, E.Z., Linklater, W., Schmitt, N.T., Pulskamp, K. 2008. Partnerships in the mating system of a small macropod marsupial, the quokka (Setonix brachyurus). Behaviour 146: 89-112.

McLean, I.G., Schmitt, N.T., Jarman, P.J., Duncan, C., Wynne, C.D.L. 2000. Learning for Life: training marsupials to cope with introduced predators. Behaviour 137:1361-1376.

McLean, I.G., Schmitt, N.T. 1999. Copulatory behaviour in the quokka Setonix brachyurus. Australian Mammalogy 21: 139-142.