Kaylene Butler

“I get to describe and name new species of ancient kangaroos.”

Why did you study at UQ?

I chose to study at UQ for their strong reputation as an Australian university and their Bachelor of Science program.


What kind of work do you do as part of your job?

I am currently a palaeontologist and PhD student in the UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, studying 25 to 10 million year old kangaroos. During this time period there were two groups of kangaroos; the ancestors of modern kangaroos, and a second group of now extinct, fanged kangaroos called balbarids. I am trying to understand how diverse these two groups were and why the fanged kangaroo family might have gone extinct.

I get to work with fossils every day. It is absolutely fascinating to me to be able hold a fossil of an animal that lived millions of years ago, and be the person to discover a little more about what that animal was and how it might have lived.


What was the best part of your time at UQ?

My undergraduate degree in Zoology and honours year in the School of Earth Sciences was my pathway into the PhD program and was where I was inspired to study these kangaroos.

The most memorable parts of my UQ experience have been the opportunities to talk to the public and school students about my research during my PhD, for example at open day or through programs such as the Wonder of Science Young Science Ambassadors. I find this really rewarding and it is great to be able to see other people excited about science and my own research.


What advice do you have for someone deciding how to start their career?

Get involved! Volunteer in research labs. It's a great way to decide what you enjoy studying and to make connections in science. I met my honours supervisors and even made a few friends by volunteering at the Queensland Museum and UQ palaeontology labs. These sorts of connections and opportunities are invaluable.

Also, it is okay if you can't decide what type of science you want to study when you start, give it a go and see what you enjoy!

Kaylene  Butler

Job title
PhD candidate and palaeontologist
The University of Queensland

Bachelor of Science (Honours) 2013

Salary range

PhD scholarships available – visit uq.edu.au/scholarships for details

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Related study areas

Science and Mathematics