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Prof. Paul Rainey

Distinguished Professor (Massey), Director (MPIE)
B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., FRSNZ, LOL, etc.


physical: Building 12.08 // The Station Crescent // Oteha Rohe
tel: +64 9 4140800 ext 41107 // email: p.b.rainey(at)


Paul Rainey is professor of evolutionary genetics at the NZ Institute for Advanced Study. He is currently on extended leave at École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris (ESPCI ParisTech) where he heads the Laboratoire de Génétique de l’Evolution. Paul is also Visiting Professor at Stanford (where he is co-director of the Hopkins Microbial Diversity Programme), a Fellow of the Royal Society of NZ and a Member of EMBO. In 2011 he was appointed Member of the Max Planck Society and External Director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany.

He was born in Christchurch. During his youth he became interested in many things biological: plants, fungi, bacteria; their interactions, their genetics, but mostly, their evolution. He completed his PhD at the University of Canterbury and in 1989 went to Cambridge where he worked as a post doctoral fellow. In 1991 he took a post at the (then) NERC Institute for Virology & Environmental Microbiology in Oxford. In 1994 he was awarded a BBSRC Advanced Research Fellowship, which saw him move to the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford, where he spent a happy and profitable decade. In 1996 he was appointed to a faculty position at Oxford, a fellowship at St Cross College, and a stipendiary lectureship at Wadham. With much dedication, he also ran his College's wine cellar.

In 2003 he returned to New Zealand as Chair of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Auckland, but retained a fractional professorial position at Oxford (until the end of 2005). In 2007 he moved his lab to Massey University's Albany campus. In 2006 he built a hut on Great Barrier Island where he spends as much time as possible.

Paul Rainey