Gwendolyn David


BSc majors Zoology & Genetics (2004-2006), University of Queensland

BSc with Honours Ecological Genetics (2007), University of Queensland

PhD Human Evolutionary Ecology (2009-2013), University of Queensland

Postdoctoral researcher (2015- ), University of Queensland

Research History

Growing up, I had love for big cats, adventures and soccer. These three passions have led me gallivanting in a number of directions - walking pumas in the Bolivian jungle, floating into the depths of the Amazon, watching a smorgasbord of African wildlife, and bathing in the pure exhilaration of the Brazilian World Cup. Somewhere along the way I finished a PhD under the supervision of Robbie Wilson at the University of Queensland – testing how evolutionary theories of cooperation & deception play-out in the present-day context of professional soccer.

Post-PhD shenanigans, the allure of chasing quolls brought me to tropical Groote Eylandt in Northern Australia, but it was the intriguing people and Anindilyakwa culture that have held me close over the past four years. Through Robbie I was fortunate to study the health benefits of going on-country for Warnindilyakwa women, then met a number of awesome people during a stint in Groote Eylandt Linguistics helping create bilingual media.

After a short pedal through the central desert of Australia for a mate’s fundraiser for Project Futures, I headed straight for the snow in the Blue Mountains for short period where I began working on Robbie’s new project as a postdoctoral fellow – investigating if dust has any health consequences for the people of Groote Eylandt. At the moment we are still in the data collection phase of dust & health study on Groote Eylandt - and am loving all the people I meet along the way.

Research Interests

I am enjoying the current research into Indigenous health as it carries important outcomes for the wellbeing of the Anindilyakwa people - whom I have come to know and learn a lot from. Learning how to carry out sensitive research within a cultural interface has been a real eye-opener, and continues to hold my interest particularly as it helps take steps towards promoting greater understanding between the Indigenous & Western societies in Australia. Working on Groote in this cultural interface also satisfies my broader interests lingering from the PhD days - a persistent zest for understanding the transmission and persistence of prosociality in the modern world.



Ellis WA, FitzGibbon SI, Barth B, Niehaus AC, David GK, Taylor BD, Matsushige H, Melzer A, Bercovitch F, Carrick F, Jones DN, Dexter C, Gillett A, Predavec M, Lunney D, and Wilson RS. (2016). Daylight savings time can decrease the frequency of wildlife-vehicle collisions. Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0632 

Wilson RS, James SS, David GK, Hermann E, Morgan OJ, Niehaus AC, Hunter A, Thake D and Smith MD (2016) Multivariate analyses of individual variation in soccer skill as a tool for talent identification and development: utilising evolutionary theory in sports science. Journal of Sports Science, DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2016.1151544. 

David GK and Wilson RS (2015) Cooperation improves success during intergroup competition: an analysis using data from professional soccer tournaments. PLoS ONE, 10: e0136503

Wilson RS, Niehaus AC, David GK, Hunter A and Smith M (2013) Does individual quality mask the detection of performance trade-offs? A test using analyses of human physical performance. Journal of Experimental Biology, 271: 545-551.

David GK, Condon CH, Bywater CL, Ortiz-Barrientos D and Wilson RS (2011) Receivers limit the prevalence of deception in humans: evidence from diving behavior in soccer players. PLoS ONE, 6: e26017

Wilson RS, Condon CH, David GK, FitzGibbon SI, Niehaus AC and Pratt K (2010) Females prefer athletes, males fear the disadvantaged: different signals used in female choice and male competition have varied consequences. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, 277: 1923-1928

David GK, Marshall DJ and Riginos C (2010) Latitudinal variability in spatial genetic structure in the invasive ascidian, Styela plicataMarine Biology, 157: 1955-1965