Associate Professor Craig Donald Millar

PhD Auckland (1993), MSc (1985), BSc (1983)

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Associate Professor


2015–pres University of Auckland, Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences
2005–15 University of Auckland, Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences
2003–05 University of Auckland, Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences
2000–03 University of Auckland, Senior Tutor in the School of Biological Sciences
1999–00 Massey University, Post–doctoral fellow ‘The genetics of the endangered Chatham Island Taiko’
1996–99 Massey University, Post–doctoral fellow ‘A universal DNA test for sex in birds’
1993–96 University of Auckland, FoRST Post–doctoral fellow ‘DNA tests for sexing birds’
1991–93 Environmental Science and Research, Forensic Scientist

Research | Current

My research lies at the interface of molecular biology, genetics and evolution. I have developed new conceptual and analytical tools to study the genetic processes that underlie evolutionary change. I have worked on many vertebrates including skua and Adélie penguins in addition to birds of conservation importance. Recently, my research has been directed at the evolution and dispersal patterns of modern humans.

My research has focused on the use of massively parallel sequencing techniques for the recovery and analysis of ancient genomes. My current research is focused around three main projects, these are: (1) A genomic study of the people of Wairau Bar: health, history and origins of the first New Zealanders (2) A genetic approach to the origin of the first Australians and (3) The genetic effects of climate change.

To date I have a total of 102 publications, consisting of 81 refereed papers, 5 edited books or book chapters and 17 popular articles or reports. These include publications in the journals Science, Nature and PNAS. I have been cited a total of 2248 times and have an H index of 24. Over my research career, I have been a named investigator on grants with a total value of approximately $47.42 million and have received $1.75 million of these research funds.

Teaching | Current

Undergraduate teaching

2016–pres      Sixteen evolution lectures in Essential Biology: From Genomes to Organisms (BIOSCI 101) – stage I
2003–pres      Nine lectures in Antarctica: The Frozen Continent (BIOSCI 100) – stage I and Course Director
2013–pres      Nine lectures and two laboratories in Genetics (BIOSCI 202) – stage II and Course Director   

Postgraduate teaching

2015–pres One seminar on seminar skills in Thesis Proposal Course (BIOSCI 761/2)
2014–pres Three seminars on evolution in Evolutionary Biology (BIOSCI 729)

Postgraduate supervision

2016–pres MSc Jacqui Tizard Conservation genetics of the Chatham Island Taiko Supervisor
2015–pres PhD Alexander Knight Linking fitness traits to genome wide variation in the New Zealand hihi (Notiomystis cincta) / University of Auckland Co–supervisor
2015–pres PhD Kirsten Thompson Using conservation genetics to study cryptic deep ocean megafauna / Exeter University Co–supervisor
2015–pres PhD Kate Lee Conservation genomics: predicting the adaptive potential of the endangered New Zealand hihi (stitchbird; Notiomystis cincta) / University of Auckland Co–supervisor
2014–pres PhD Hendrik Schultz Foraging behaviour and habitat use in an avian top predator – the Brown Skua (Catharacta lonnbergi) Supervisor


2014–pres Associate Editor, Theoretical Biology Forum
2012–pres Honorary Academic staff member in the Department of Anaesthesiology, The University of Auckland
2011–pres Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Environmental Futures Centre, Griffith University, Australia
2010–pres Affiliate member of Environmental Futures Research Centre, Griffith University, Australia
2003–08 Honorary Research Fellow at Massey University
1994 R.E.F. Matthews Prize in Cellular & Molecular Biology


2014–pres President of the Staff Common Room General Committee
2014–pres Co-director of the Centre for Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics, University of Auckland
2012 Judge of the Illumina Emerging Researcher Award and the Life Technologies Award, Queenstown Molecular Biology Meeting
2012 Judge of the Marian Cranwell Prize for the best thesis completed on an ecological / environmental topic
2009–12 Hosted in our laboratory at the University of Auckland, Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology co-locator Androgenics Ltd
2005–16 All Birds Barcoding Initiative (ABBI), regional coordinator (New Zealand)

Areas of expertise

Ancient DNA, Evolutionary genetics, Forensics, Genomics

Committees/Professional groups/Services

2010–pres Member of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand
2015–17 Member of the New Zealand Genomics LTD (NZGL), Collaborator Advisory Group
2013–16 A member of the three person organising committee for Molecular Biology and Evolution 2016
2010–15 Member of the Allan Wilson Centre Research Committee
2010–16 Member of the University of Auckland's Animal Ethics Committee
2008–09 Member of the School of Biological Sciences’ Contestable Travel Fund Committee
2007–09, 11–14 Member of the General Committee of the Staff Common Room and Building Officer
2005–16 All Birds Barcoding Initiative (ABBI), regional coordinator (New Zealand)
2005–07 Member of the organising committee for the Evolution 2007 Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand
2004–05 Member of the organising committee for the Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference 2005, Auckland, New Zealand
2000–02 Member of the School of Biological Sciences’ staff–student liaison committee

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Wright, J. L., Wasef, S., Heupink, T. H., Westaway, M. C., Rasmussen, S., Pardoe, C., ... Slade, J. (2018). Ancient nuclear genomes enable repatriation of Indigenous human remains. Science advances, 4 (12)10.1126/sciadv.aau5064
  • Patel, S., Thompson, K., Santure, A., Constantine, R., & Millar, C. (2017). Genetic kinship analyses reveal that Gray's beaked whales strand in unrelated groups. Journal of Heredity, 108 (4), 456-461. 10.1093/jhered/esx021
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anna Santure, Rochelle Constantine
  • Heupink, T. H., Subramanian, S., Wright, J. L., Endicott, P., Westaway, M. C., Huynen, L., ... Lambert, D. M. (2016). Ancient mtDNA sequences from the First Australians revisited. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113 (25), 6892-6897. 10.1073/pnas.1521066113
  • Parks, M., Subramanian, S., Baroni, C., Salvatore, M., Zhang, G., Millar, C., & Lambert, D. (2015). Ancient population genomics and the study of evolution. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 370 (1660).10.1098/rstb.2013.0381
  • Cheeseman, J., Millar, C., Greggers, U., Lehmann, K., Pawley, M., Gallistel, C., ... Menzel, R. (2014). Way-finding in displaced clock-shifted bees proves bees use a cognitive map. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111 (24), 8949-8954. 10.1073/pnas.1408039111
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Guy Warman, James Cheeseman, Matthew Pawley
  • Millar, C. D., & Lambert, D. M. (2013). ANCIENT DNA Towards a million-year-old genome. NATURE, 499 (7456), 34-35.
  • Thompson, K., Baker, C. S., van Helden, A., Patel, S., Millar, C., & Constantine, R. (2012). The world's rarest whale. Curr Biol, 22 (21), R905-R906. 10.1016/j.cub.2012.08.055
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rochelle Constantine
  • Cheeseman, J. F., Winnebeck, E. C., Millar, C. D., Kirkland, L. S., Sleigh, J., Goodwin, M., ... Menzel, R. (2012). General anesthesia alters time perception by phase shifting the circadian clock. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109 (18), 7061-7066. 10.1073/pnas.1201734109
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: James Cheeseman, Jamie Sleigh, Guy Warman, Matthew Pawley


Contact details

Alternative contact

Cellphone 021 048 7352

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 7, Room 773
New Zealand

Social links

Web links