I am an evolutionary developmental biologist specialising on the origin of jawed vertebrates. I combine developmental biology of modern sharks (elephant sharks and epaulette sharks) with paleontology to understand the origins of paired fins, muscle and the patterning of the skeleton.
I am a Research fellow at Curtin University in Perth and an affiliate researcher at Monash University in Melbourne. I study shark developmental biology and palaeontology (EvoDevo) to better understand the origin of innovations during vertebrate evolution. I have authored 14 peer reviewed research papers, including two highly cited first authored Nature papers, one science paper and one PLOS Biology paper. I publish in a wide range of fields within biological sciences and earth and planetary sciences and the media regularly feature my research. I have received three ARC discovery projects since I moved to Australia in 2009 and received the highly competitive Human Frontiers Research Fellowship (2009-2012) and the Curtin research fellowship (2016-2021 part time). As a Monash University post-doctoral fellow and senior research fellow, I established the only elephant shark facility providing stageable eggs for evolutionary research. In 2013, I received a high commendation for the L’Oréal Women in Science Fellowships and I am regularly invited for keynote addresses (University of Queensland, Konrad Lorenz Institute, Austria, Royal Society of Victoria, Collège de France).
I obtained my PhD in Evolutionary Developmental Biology from Uppsala University, Sweden, in 2009. I worked as a post doctorate fellow in Peter Currie’s laboratory at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (Monash University) from 2009 to 2012 and as a Senior Research fellow in the same laboratory from 2012 to 2015. I took one year of maternity leave in 2014 and I returned to work part time (0.6 FTE) at ARMI in 2015. I was awarded the Curtin research fellowship in 2015 and moved to Curtin University as a research fellow in 2016 (0.8 FTE). I have been trained in both palaeontology and developmental biology, which allow me to integrate the fields seamlessly and lead to a better understanding of evolution. My 2007 JEZ paper (cited 66 times) and my 2008 Nature paper (Cited 77 times) answered the question of the origin of digits in the first four limbed animals, the tetrapods. Taken together, these papers provide a “total evidence” approach where data gathered from a fossil studied through 3D imaging and development of a non-model species (lungfishes) answered the long standing question of evolution: where do digits come from? In continue to use cutting edge technologies in my work of shark embryos (immunostaining and confocal scanning) and fossils (using synchrotron scanning and 3D modelling).
PhD, MSc, BSc
2012-2015 Senior Research Fellow, Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Responsibilities and key achievements
Original research resulting in 8 papers, one in Science
Two successful ARC discovery grants
Establishment of the most successful Elephant shark facility with stageable eggs
Synchrotron scanning of fossil material at the Australian Synchrotron through competitive grant
Successful promotion of research through television, radio, internet and print media, and public lectures.
2009-12 Postdoctoral fellowship “"The development and evolution of the pelvic girdle from fish to the earliest tetrapods"
Inititation of the elephant shark research at ARMI
Original research including 1 PLoS Biology paper
Successful ARC grant
Successful Human Frontiers Fellowship
2004-09 PhD Student "The origin of tetrapod limbs and girdles: fossil and developmental evidence."
Description of the transitional fossil Panderichthys resulting in 2 Nature publications still highly cited (over 75 citations each)
Responsible for the building of a developmental biology laboratory for the research group
Occupational Health and Safety officer and lab manager for the department
Organisation of the largest Early Vertebrates/Lower vertebrates Conference
Field work in Belgium, Estonia and western Australia leading to 1 co-authored publication and several other reports
2000-04 MSc Student "Vertebral development and its evolution in modern salamanders”"
Resulted in the journal cover for the Journal of Experimental Zoology
Vice-President of the Post Graduate Students association
Created a Post-Graduate Career Counsellor Position (McGill)
Evolution of the synarcual (with Prof Kate Trinajstic (Curtin university) and Zerina Johanson (Natural History Museum, London)
Development and evolution of muscle formation in basal fishes with Monash University (Prof Peter Currie and Dr Frank Tulenko)
Early vertebrate evolution and paleontology
Embryology of stem gnathostomes: Immunostaining, confocal imaging
3D scanning and modelling of fossil and extant taxa: MRI, CT and synchrotron scanning. Modelling using Mimics
2019 Young Tall Poppy
2018 Homeward Bound, cohort #4 participant
2013 High commendation for the L’Oréal Women in Science Fellowships
2002 John Bolton Award for best oral presentation at the Canadian Paleontology conference
Society of vertebrate paleontology, Oceania Chondrichthyan society, Australia New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology, Australian Science Communicators, Pan American Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Canadian society of Zoology
Fields Of Research
Animal Structure and Function
Evolution of Developmental Systems
2018-2020 Lecturer, Curtin university
Cell biology and functional biology: Workshop leader
2017 Guest lecturer, Curtin University
Marine Biodiversity (ZOOL2001): Lecture on development of early fishes and Practical on fish anatomy
2010-13 Guest lecturer, Monash University
Embryology and development (BMS2011)
Evolution and development (Paleobiology, ESC2032/3232)
Fish Evolution (Paleobiology, ESC2032/3232
- Berrell, R. W., C. Boisvert, K. Trinajstic, M. Siversson, J. Alvarado-Ortega, L. Cavin, S. W. Salisbury, and A. Kemp. 2020. "A review of Australia’s Mesozoic fishes." Alcheringa 44 (2): 286-311.
- Pears, J. B., S. M. Ferguson, C. A. Boisvert, and P. W. Bateman. 2019. "Does fluctuating asymmetry of hind legs impose costs on escape speed in house crickets (Acheta domesticus)?." Acta Ethologica 22 (1): 39-45.
- Barr, J. I., C. A. Boisvert, R. Somaweera, K. Trinajstic, and P. W. Bateman. 2019. "Re-regeneration to reduce negative effects associated with tail loss in lizards." Scientific Reports 9 (1)
- Jung, H., M. Baek, K. P. D'Elia, C. Boisvert, P. D. Currie, B. H. Tay, B. Venkatesh, S. M. Brown, A. Heguy, D. Schoppik, and 1 more contributors. 2018. "The Ancient Origins of Neural Substrates for Land Walking." Cell 172 (4): 667-682.e15.
- Johanson, Z., C. Boisvert, A. Maksimenko, P. Currie, and K. Trinajstic. 2015. "Development of the Synarcual in the Elephant Sharks (Holocephali; Chondrichthyes): Implications for Vertebral Formation and Fusion." PLOS ONE 10 (9)
- Bishop, P. J., C. W. Walmsley, M. J. Phillips, M. R. Quayle, C. A. Boisvert, and C. R. McHenry. 2015. "Oldest pathology in a tetrapod bone illuminates the origin of terrestrial vertebrates." Plos ONE 10 (5)
- Trinajstic, K., C. boisvert, J. Long, A. Maksimenko, and Z. Johanson. 2015. "Pelvic and reproductive structures in placoderms (stem gnathostomes)." Biological Reviews 90: 467-501.
- Boisvert, C. A., C. L. Martins, A. G. Edmunds, J. Cocks, and P. Currie. 2015. "Capture, transport, and husbandry of elephant sharks (Callorhinchus milii) adults, eggs, and hatchlings for research and display." Zoo Biology 34 (1): 94-98.
- Boisvert, C., K. Trinajstic, and Z. Johanson. 2015. "Avoiding Medusa’s gaze: what sharks can tell us about a rare human disease."
- Jerve, A., Z. Johanson, P. Ahlberg, and C. Boisvert. 2014. "Embryonic development of fin spines in Callorhinchus milii (Holocephali); implications for chondrichthyan fin spine evolution." Evolution And Development 16 (6): 339-353.
- Trinajstic, K., S. Sanchez, V. Dupret, P. Tafforeau, J. Long, G. Young, T. Senden, C. Boisvert, N. Power, and P. E. Ahlberg. 2013. "Fossil Musculature of the Most Primitive Jawed Vertebrates." Science. 341: 160-164.
- Boisvert, C. A., J. M. P. Joss, and P. E. Ahlberg. 2013. "Comparative pelvic development of the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) and the Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri): Conservation and innovation across the fish-tetrapod transition." Evodevo 4 (1)
- Boisvert, C. A. 2013. "From Cells to Structures to Evolutionary Novelties: Creating a continuum." Biological Theory 8: 211-220.
- Cole, N. J., T. E. Hall, E. K. Don, S. Berger, C. A. Boisvert, C. Neyt, R. Ericsson, J. Joss, D. B. Gurevich, and P. D. Currie. 2011. "Development and evolution of the muscles of the pelvic fin." Plos Biology 9 (10)
- Boisvert, C., K. Trinajstic, and P. Currie. 2011. "INSIGHTS ON THE EVOLUTION OF THE PELVIC GIRDLE OF EARLY GNATHOSTOMES FROM THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ELEPHANT SHARK (CALLORHINCHUS MILII) AND PRESERVED SOFT TISSUE IN DEVONIAN PLACODERMS." JOURNAL OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY 31: 74-74.
- Boisvert, C. A. 2009. "Vertebral development of modern salamanders provides insights into a unique event of their evolutionary history." Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution 312 (1): 1-29.
- Ahlberg, P. E., H. Blom, and C. A. Boisvert. 2009. "Acta Zoologica: Introduction." Acta Zoologica 90 (SUPPL. 1): 1-2.
- Boisvert, C. A. 2009. "The humerus of Panderichthys in three dimensions and its significance in the context of the fish-tetrapod transition." Acta Zoologica 90 (SUPPL. 1): 297-305.
- Boisvert, C. A., E. Mark-Kurik, and P. E. Ahlberg. 2008. "The pectoral fin of Panderichthys and the origin of digits." Nature 456 (7222): 636-638.
- Johanson, Z., J. Joss, C. A. Boisvert, R. Ericsson, M. Sutija, and P. E. Ahlberg. 2007. "Fish fingers: Digit homologues in Sarcopterygian fish fins." Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution 308 (6): 757-768.
- Clement, G., and C. A. Boisvert. 2006. "Lohest's true and false 'Devonian amphibians': Evidence for the rhynchodipterid lungfish Soederberghia in the Famennian of Belgium." Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26 (2): 276-283.
- Boisvert, C. A. 2005. "The pelvic fin and girdle of Panderichthys and the origin of tetrapod locomotion." Nature 438 (7071): 1145-1147.
- Carroll, R., C. A. Boisvert, J. Bolt, D. Green, N. Philip, C. Rolian, R. Schoch, and A. Tarenko. 2004. "Changing patterns of ontogeny from osteolepiform fish through Permian tetrapods as a guide to the early evolution of land vertebrates." In Recent Advances in the Origin and Early Radiation of Vertebrates Arratia, G., M. Wilson, and R. Cloutier., 321-343 Germany: Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, München, Germany.