Staff Profile

Dr Richard Newcomb
Chief Scientist
Senior Management Team

More information about our research

Dr Richard Newcomb


BSc, Zoology, Cellular & Molecular Biology, University of Auckland, New Zealand
MSc, Zoology, University of Auckland, New Zealand
PhD, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Australian National University, Australia

Research Interests & Activities

Molecular mechanisms and evolution of animal chemosensory systems, with applications in sensing technologies and pest control from understanding insect olfaction and in food science from human olfaction. Development of molecular tools for biodiversity assessment and genomics, particularly of invertebrates.

Honours & Awards

Professor, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand
2012 Solander Award
2012 Trimble Agricultural Research Fellowship
2010 Top Cited Article Award, Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
2008 Invited member, Royal Society of NZ delegation to Taiwan on Nanobiotechnology
2004 McMaster Fellowship, CSIRO, Australia 
1997 New Zealand Science & Technology Post-Doctoral Fellowship
1996 Young Scientist Award, Queenstown Molecular Biology Meeting
1996 New Zealand Lottery Science Repatriation Fellowship
1991 Sir James Gunson Award for Research in Agriculture

Professional Memberships

President, Australasian Association of ChemoSensory Sciences
Committee Member, The Genetics Society of AustralAsia
Member, Society for Chemical Ecology
Member, Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution
Member, New Zealand Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Associate Editor, Journal of Chemical Ecology
Academic Editor, PLoS ONE
Editorial Board, Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Editorial Board, Flavour Journal
Principal Investigator, Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution
Associate Investigator, Maurice Wilkins Centre for Biodiscovery

Key Publications

MCRAE, J.F., JAEGER, A.R., BAVA, C.M., BERESFORD, M.K., HUNTER, D., JIA, Y., CHHEANG, S.L., JIN, D., PENG, M., GAMBLE, J.C., ATKINSON, K.R., AXTEN, L.G., PAISLEY, A.G., WILLIAMS, L., TOOMAN, L., PINEAU, B., ROUSE, S.A., NEWCOMB, R.D. (2013) Identification of regions associated with variation in sensitivity to food-related odors in the human genome. Current Biology 23: 1596-1600.
JAEGER, A.R., MCRAE, J.F., BAVA, C.M., BERESFORD, M.K., HUNTER, D., JIA, Y., CHHEANG, S.L., JIN, D., PENG, M., GAMBLE, J.C., ATKINSON, K.R., AXTEN, L.G., PAISLEY, A.G., TOOMAN, L., PINEAU, B., ROUSE, S.A., NEWCOMB, R.D. (2013) A Mendelian trait for olfactory sensitivity affects odor experience and food selection. Current Biology 23: 1601-1605.
HAMIAUX, C., DRUMMOND, R.S.M., JANSSEN, B.J., LEDGER, S.E., COONEY, J.M., NEWCOMB R.D., SNOWDEN, K.C. (2012) DAD2, an α/β hydrolase likely to be involved in the perception of the plant branching hormone, strigolactone. Current Biology 22: 2032-2036.
ALBRE, J., LIÉNARD, M., SIREY, T.M., SCHMIDT, S., TOOMAN, L., CARRAHER, C., GREENWOOD, D.R., LÖFSTEDT, C., NEWCOMB, R.D. (2012) Sex pheromone evolution in leafroller moths by differential regulation of a desaturase gene. PLoS Genetics 8: e1002489.
ROSE, C.J., CHAPMAN, J., MARSHALL, S.D.G., LEE, S.F., BATTERHAM, P., ROSS, H.A., NEWCOMB, R.D. (2011) Selective sweeps at the organophosphorus insecticide resistance locus, Rop-1, have reduced levels of variation across the α-esterase gene cluster in the Australian sheep blowfly, Lucilia cuprina. Molecular Biology and Evolution 28: 1835-1846.
SMART, R., KIELY, A., BEALE, M., VARGAS, E., CARRAHER, C., KRALICEK, A.V., CHRISTIE, D.L., NEWCOMB, R.D. AND WARR, C.G. (2008) Drosophila odorant receptors are novel seven transmembrane domain proteins that can signal independently of heterotrimeric G proteins. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 38: 770-780.
SCHAFFER, R.J., FRIEL, E.N., SOULEYRE, E.J.F., BOLITHO, K., THODEY, K., LEDGER, S., BOWEN, J.H., MA, J.-H., NAIN, B., COHEN, D., GLEAVE, A.P ., CROWHURST, R.N., JANSSEN, B.J., YAO, J.L., AND NEWCOMB, R.D. (2007) A genomics approach reveals that aroma production in apple is controlled by ethylene predominantly at the final step in each biosynthetic pathway. Plant Physiology 144: 1899-1912.

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