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Dr Ludovic Dutoit

Animal biologist

Animal biologist

Forget what you thought you knew about animal biologists – these days, they’re all fluent in tech

Dr Ludovic Dutoit is a conservationist and animal biologist based in New Zealand. Animals have always been his thing – but, as a kid growing up in Switzerland, he always pictured himself more as a vet or dog trainer. 

“I liked animals but wasn’t really sure what jobs involved working with them,” he says. “Luckily, I had a really great high school biology teacher who inspired me to study biology at uni.” 

A couple of degrees later – plus a PhD in evolutionary genetics – Ludovic made the move to New Zealand. It was here that he first married his animal and tech smarts, scoring a gig as
a bioinformatics specialist at the University of Otago, where he researches genetics and lectures on all things animals. 

Sci-fi science

Although traditionally ‘science’ based, in 2022 Ludovic’s role demands fluency in the latest
gene sequencing technologies. So much so that addressing questions like “How and why are females and males so different?” or “Where did this species come from?” demands a little less lab time and a lot more (computer) screen time. 

“As a researcher, I use technology to reveal the stories evolution has left in the genes of animals,” he explains. “I do a lot of programming to handle big genetic datasets and create a lot of pretty-looking [digital] graphs.”

It’s tech that he’s stoked is slowly becoming more accessible, too. 

Tech genes

Right now, Ludovic is navigating epic datasets to determine what makes geckos male or female. And his advice for students keen to team their STEM smarts with animals? 

“Stay curious and try to find the answers to the questions you have. And reach out to scientists with jobs you like!” 

Ludovic’s STEM study and career pathway to becoming an animal biologist

  • Bachelor of Science (Biology), University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Master of Science (Behaviour, Evolution and Conservation), University of Lausanne
  • PhD (Evolutionary Genetics), Uppsala University
  • Bioinformatics specialist, University of Otago
  • Lecturer in evolutionary biology, University of Otago

This profile was originally published in Careers with STEM: Technology.

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