Centre of Excellence

Dr Colleen O'Ryan

CoE Project Leader (External)

Dr Colleen O'Ryan
BSc (Hons) UWC, PhD (UCT)

Dept. of Molecular and Cell Biology (UCT)
Tel: +27 (0)21 650257


Activities and research interests

Homepage @ Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

Colleen O’Ryan was awarded her doctorate in the fields of molecular evolution and population genetics from the University of Cape Town in 1993. She would describe herself as an evolutionary geneticist focusing on unraveling the processes that shape population partitioning across the African landscapes, whilst considering genetic information of a number of loci, as well as life history and demography of the taxa being investigated.

Colleen works on a range of taxa from ants to rhinoceros and has received grants from the National Research Foundation, University of Cape Town Research Council, International Rhino Foundation, Edith Sealy Feline Foundation Grant, National Geographic Society, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Saint Louis Zoological Park's Field Research for Conservation Fund and the Selous Rhinoceros Trust. She is regularly consulted on rhinoceros population and conservation genetics, from project design to collaborations or “contract” research with a forensic focus. Examples of the latter include designing black rhinoceros “subspecies” specific primers in order to assign animals to specific subspecies in the Laikipia Reserve in Tanzania, and a white rhinoceros genetics project that estimated the population size from the number of unique haplotypes of black rhinoceros in Selous Reserve in Tanzania using DNA extracted from dung