A/Prof Stephen Johnston

A/Prof Stephen Johnston is a Reader in Reproduction (40% Teaching; 40% Research and 20% Service) in the School of Environment and School of Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland, where he teaches animal reproduction to applied science and science undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Stephen was trained as a zoologist and specialises in the area of reproductive biology in a broad diversity of species ranging from prawns to tigers but with a major focus on Australian mammals. A/Prof Johnston has published 285 scientific works in basic and applied science disciplines including reproductive anatomy, physiology and behaviour. He was the first person in the world to produce a pouch young following artificial insemination in a marsupial, a task that he and his colleagues have now carried out successfully in the koala, a total of 34 times. Stephen is also a specialist in the cryopreservation of marsupial spermatozoa and in the assessment of sperm DNA fragmentation, including human and domestic animal spermatozoa. A/Prof Johnston’s recent research interests and grant success include studies aimed at a better understanding of the effect of chlamydia on male koala reproduction, heat stress in koalas, sociobiology of koalas, genetic and reproductive management of koalas, wombat captive reproduction, echidna captive breeding, crocodile artificial insemination and prawn aquaculture. He was recently elected Fellow of the Society for Reproductive Biology (2019)

  • 1999 PhD (Wildlife Reproduction), University of Queensland, Australia “Studies towards the development of an artificial insemination program in the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)”.
  • 1994 BSc (Honours 1A) Zoology (University Medalist) University of Queensland, Australia
  • 1992 BSc (Zoology) University of Queensland, Australia

Current Position: Reader in Reproduction (2015-current)

Previous Positions:

  • Senior Lecturer (2008–2014) in Animal Reproduction, School of Agriculture & Food Sciences UQ
  • Lecturer (2000-2007) in Animal Reproduction, School of Animal Studies, UQ

Over the last 6 years A/Prof Johnston has been the annual course coordinator in 3 undergraduate and 2 postgraduate
courses at the University of Queensland and teaches into 6 undergraduate and 4 post-graduate courses. Over the
course of his career, he has taught animal reproductive biology to an estimated 3000 undergraduates and 300 post- graduate students. See – https://agriculture.uq.edu.au/profile/317/steve-johnston

Since 2000, A/Prof Johnston has supervised a total of 19 PhD, 5 MPhil and 45 honours students. He has also supervised the Master of Animal Science Coursework Project of 24 students. Two of his honours students graduated as prestigious University Medalists and 16 of his PhD students received postgraduate scholarships. See – https://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/221

Over the course of his career (2000 – ) A/Prof is or has been CI on research projects that have attracted approximately $5.5M in funding. See – https://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/221 for details.

  • 1999 University of Queensland Medal
  • 2007 University of Queensland Research Excellence Award
  • 2009 Australia Day Ambassador
  • 2019 Elected Fellow of Society for Reproductive Biology

Career total 285 peer reviewed publications (1 book, 16 book chapters and 216 journal publications) and 49 conference/other publications. My publication record is summarized in the figure on the right. I have a current H-index of 32, a citation count of 3617 and a citation average of 12.3. I am listed in the top 2.5% of researchers on Research Gate with an RG score of 42.61.

Hulse L. et al. and Johnston SD (2022). Investigation of pathology associated with Chlamydia pecorum infection in the male reproductive tract, and the effect on spermatogenesis and semen quality in the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Theriogenology 180 30-39.

Joyce BA, Blyton MDJ, Johnston SD, et al. (2021). Koala retrovirus genetic diversity and transmission dynamics within captive koala populations. National Academy of Sciences. Proceedings 118 (38) e2024021118 e2024021118.

Skerrett-Byrne DA et al. Johnston SD, and Nixon B (2021). Proteomic analysis of koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) spermatozoa and prostatic bodies. Proteomics 21 (19) 2100067 e2100067.

Hulse L, et al. and Johnston, SD (2020). Epidemiology of chlamydia-induced reproductive disease in male koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) from Southeast Queensland, Australia as assessed from penile urethral swabs and semen. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 56 (1) 2019-03-062 82-92.

Yu T, Johnston SD, et al. (2019). The piRNA response to retroviral invasion of the koala genome. Cell 179 (3) 632-643.e12.

Hulse LS, McDonald, S, Johnston SD and Beagley KW (2019). Rapid point‐of‐care diagnostics for the detection of Chlamydia pecorum in koalas ( Phascolarctos cinereus ) using loop‐mediated isothermal amplification without nucleic acid purification. MicrobiologyOpen 8 (12) e916 e916. 

Cristescu, RH et al., Johnston SD, Hanger J, Booth R, and Frère CH. (2019). Developing non-invasive methodologies to assess koala population health through detecting Chlamydia from scats. Molecular Ecology Resources 19 (4) 1755- 0998.12999 957-969.

Johnston SD and Holt WV (2019). Using the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) as a case study to illustrate the development of artificial breeding technology in marsupials: An update. Reproductive Sciences in Animal Conservation. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature Switzerland.327-362.

Palmieri C, et al. and Johnston SD (2018). Chlamydia pecorum infection in the male reproductive system of Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Veterinary Pathology 56 (2) 300985818806963-306.

Chappell KJ, et al. Johnston SD, Holmes EC, Meers J and Young P. (2016). Phylogenetic diversity of koala retrovirus within a wild koala population. Journal of Virology 91 (3) e01820-16 363-374.

Ellis W et al., Johnston, SD, Seddon J, Melzer A, Higgins D, and Bercovitch F (2015). The role of bioacoustic signals in koala sexual selection: Insights from seasonal patterns of associations revealed with GPSProximity units. PLoS ONE 10 (7) e0130657 e0130657.

Johnston SD et al.. (2015). Orchitis and epididymitis in koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) infected with Chlamydia pecorum. Veterinary Pathology 52 (6) 1254-1257.

Ballantyne K., et al. and Johnston SD (2015). Use of the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone antagonist azaline B to control the oestrous cycle in the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Reproduction, Fertility and Development 28 (11) 1686-1694.

Ballantyne K, et al. and Johnston SD (2015). The use of a synthetic progesterone, levonorgestrel (LNG), to control the oestrous cycle in the koala. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 28 (10) 1526-1532.

Johnston SD et al. (2013). Preliminary study of faecal cortisol and corticosterone as an index of acute cortisol secretion in the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Australian Veterinary Journal 91 (12) 534-537.

Johnston SD et al. (2013). The effect of chilled storage and cryopreservation on the sperm DNA fragmentation dynamics of a captive population of koalas. Journal of Andrology 33 (5) 1007-1015.

Lee KE., Seddon JM, Johnston SD et al. (2012). Genetic diversity in natural and introduced island populations of koalas in Queensland. Australian Journal of Zoology 60 (5) 303-310.