Nahiid Stephens  from Murdoch University in Perth Australia.

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Dr Nahiid Stephens
BSc, BVMS (Hons), MANZCVSc (Pathobiology), DACVP (Anatomic Pathology)


About me

I completed a Bachelor of Science (Veterinary Medicine and Surgery) with merit Honours at Murdoch University and went on to work in small animal private practice both in Australia and the United Kingdom. I came to Murdoch University in early 2009. As a veterinary anatomic pathologist, I am involved in teaching general and systemic pathology, as well as post-mortem examination skills/core competencies to undergraduates as well as wildlife pathology to postgraduates, performing surgical biopsy interpretation and post-mortem examinations, training postgraduate students/residents in pathology, and undertaking research/supervision of research into the pathology of animal diseases. Whilst I deal with a wide variety of species on a regular basis, I have a special interest in wildlife pathology, in particular that of marine mammals. In terms of postgraduate certification via examination in veterinary pathology, I am a Member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (MANZCVSc, Pathobiology Chapter), and a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (DACVP, Anatomic Pathology).

Teaching area

I teach:

  • general pathology to veterinary, animal science, biomedical and chiropractic undergraduate students,
  • systemic pathology to veterinary undergraduate students, and
  • practical post-mortem examination skills to veterinary undergraduate students.

My main undergraduate teaching contribution is as the unit coordinator for VET375 (Processes in Animal Disease). I also teach components of VET377 (Systemic Pathology and Medicine), teach 4th year veterinary students how to conduct a thorough post-mortem exam, and periodically teach into the 5th year Veterinary Science core rotation in anatomic pathology (a component of VET587).

My postgraduate teaching involves training/mentoring postgraduate students/Research Masters Residency students in pathology.

I am also involved in supervising/training research students. My Honours students, past and present are:

  • Ivan Hee Kean HONG (2010-2011). Neuromuscular junction development in the western grey kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus). Supervisors: Dr Sarah Etherington (Murdoch), Dr Natalie Warburton (Murdoch), Dr Nahiid Stephens
  • Carmen Jing Wen WONG (2011-2012). An investigation into hindlimb muscle populations with cifferent rates of synapse maturation in the western grey kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus). Supervisors: Dr Sarah Etherington (Murdoch), Dr Natalie Warburton (Murdoch), Dr Nahiid Stephens
  • Lisa-Marie HARRISON (2012). A standardised method for the comparison of skin lesions among bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) populations in coastal areas. Supervisors: Dr Hugh Finn (Murdoch), Dr Nahiid Stephens, Dr Lars Bejder (Murdoch)
  • Georgia MEGIRIAN (2013). Investigating Tissue Residues in Sheep Grazing Alkaloam-Improved Soil. Supervisors: Dr Michael Laurence (Murdoch), Dr Nahiid Stephens

Research areas

My broad research interest is utilising post-mortem investigations for the study of diseases affecting marine mammals, in particular dolphins and humpback whales (cetaceans); as well as the population health of these species in the context of their biology and ecology in WA. I work with other members of Murdoch University’s Aquatic Megafauna Research Unit (AMRU, see:, Murdoch University’s Conservation Medicine Program ( as well as external/international collaborators. This work is important in helping to understand the threats these populations face, to better inform management of these species and their environment. In general, however, I am interested in all aspects of wildlife pathology - in a wide variety of species! Particularly when health investigations clearly have a role to play in managing populations and conservation.

Cetacean research has formed the bulk of my research to date; due to my ongoing interest in this field I am currently undertaking a PhD: “Disease ecology and health surveillance in coastal dolphin populations in WA.” Principal supervisor: Dr Kristin Warren (Murdoch); co-supervisors: Dr Carly Holyoake (Murdoch) and Dr Padraig Duignan (University of Calgary, Canada).


Current projects

  1. PhD: “Disease ecology and health surveillance in coastal dolphin populations in WA.” Principal supervisor: Dr Kristin Warren (Murdoch); co-supervisors: Dr Mark O’Dea (Murdoch), Dr Carly Holyoake (Murdoch adjunct) and Dr Padraig Duignan (The Marine Mammal Centre, USA).
  2. Marine Mammal Health Project: Ongoing post-mortem investigations in a range of cetacean species to further understand cetacean health, disease and stranding. Collaborators: Dr Carly Holyoake (Murdoch), AMRU members, DBCA/DPaW.
  3. Ongoing investigation into suspected annual organophosphate toxicity outbreaks causing hindlimb paralysis and death in Carnaby’s cockatoos: This work forms (scheduled completion – late 2020) Dr Flaminia Coiacetto’s PhD Thesis. I am a co-supervisor.
  4. WA sea turtle health project: This work forms (scheduled completion – late 2019) Dr Erina Young’s PhD Thesis. I am a co-supervisor.

Awards and grants


  • Nominated for Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Teaching Excellence in 2010, 2013, and 2017 (i.e. rated within top 10% of the University’s teachers).

Collaborative Grants:

  • Swan River Trust. Consolidation of pathology investigations in relation to the deaths of dolphins in the Swan-Canning estuary and Bunbury inland waters.  Recipients: Dr Carly Holyoake (Murdoch), Dr Nahiid Stephens (2010).
  • Research and Development, Murdoch University (50% Animal Research Institute, 50% Institute for Sustainable Ecosystems). Increasing capacity of research into marine mammal health. Recipients: Dr Carly Holyoake (Murdoch), Dr Nahiid Stephens, Dr Lars Bejder (Murdoch) (2010).
  • Swan River Trust. Dolphin population and health investigations. Recipients: Dr Carly Holyoake (Murdoch), Dr Hugh Finn (Murdoch), Dr Nahiid Stephens, Dr Lars Bejder (Murdoch) (2010 – 2012).
  • Western Australian Marine Science Institution. Investigation into the increased mortality rate in humpback whales in Western Australia. Collection of baseline data on humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) health and causes of mortality for long-term monitoring in WA. Recipients: Dr Carly Holyoake (Murdoch), Dr Nahiid Stephens, Mr Douglas Coughran AO (Department of Environment and Conservation), Dr Kristin Warren (Murdoch), Dr Lars Bejder (Murdoch) (2011 – 2012)
  • City of Mandurah. Funding for contaminants analyses in Mandurah dolphin tissues, contributing to my PhD; support in-kind from Murdoch University by providing a Murdoch Strategic Scholarship in 2019 so I am able to work full-time on my PhD.


Events and speaking engagements

Professional and community service

I am part of a team of anatomic pathologists, supported by histologists and necropsy staff, who provide a diagnostic pathology service to the veterinary hospital at Murdoch University, and to the broader community (e.g. external referring veterinary clinics/hospitals, researchers, the RSPCA etc).

Doctoral and masters supervisions

Pathology Residency with Research Masters:

  • Dr Sandy Adsett: The prevalence and histological characterisation of structural abnormalities in loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) hatchlings from west Australian nesting sites (2009 – ongoing). Supervisors: Dr Mandy O’Hara (Murdoch), Dr Phil Nicholls (Murdoch), Dr Nahiid Stephens, Dr Sabrina Trocini (Murdoch).
  • Dr Kym Campbell: Investigation of haemoparasites in Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) and other avifauna on Penguin Island (2012 – ongoing). Supervisors: Dr Nahiid Stephens, Dr Belinda Cannell (Murdoch), Dr Phil Nicholls (Murdoch).
PhD co-supervision:
  • Dr Erina Young – Sea turtle health (scheduled completion – end 2019).
  • Dr Flaminia Coiacetto – Carnaby cockatoo paralysis syndrome (scheduled completion – end 2020).



  • Yang, W., Jones, B., Rossi, G., Stephens, N., Arthur, I., Merritt, A., Reese, S., Langner, K., (2020), First case of a dog infected with Aspergillus (Phialosimplex) caninus in Australasia, New Zealand Veterinary Journal, , , pages -.
  • Aleri, J., Russell, S., Richardson, J., Stephens, N., Lee, G., Laurence, M., (2020), Cervico-thoracic vertebral subluxation in sheep: Awareness among veterinarians of a rare syndrome., Research in Veterinary Science, 130, 2020, pages 79 - 86.
  • Stephens, N., Duignan, P., Symons, J., Holyoake, C., Bejder, L., Warren, K., (2017), Death by octopus (Macroctopus maorum): Laryngeal luxation and asphyxiation in an Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus)., Marine Mammal Science, 33, 4, pages 1204 - 1213.
  • Etherington, S., Hong, I., Wong, C., Stephens, N., Warburton, N., (2016), Heterochronic neuromuscular junction development in an Australian marsupial (Macropus fuliginosus), Journal of Zoology, 300, 1, pages 27 - 35.
  • Cannell, B., Campbell, K., FitzGerald, L., Stephens, N., (2016), Anthropogenic trauma is the most prevalent cause of mortality in Little Penguins, Eudyptula minor, in Perth, Western Australia, Emu: austral ornithology, 116, 1, pages 52 - 61.
  • Laurence, M., Stephens, N., (2016), Animal and human health is unlikely to be at risk when generations of sheep graze bauxite residue (Alkaloam (R))-amended pastures, Animal Production Science, 56, 12, pages 2074 - 2085.
  • Stephens, N., Gaal, T., (2015), Postmortem diagnosis of canine diabetes mellitus and diabetic ketoacidosis via biochemical analysis of aqueous humour, Veterinary Record Case Reports, , , pages -.
  • Stephens, N., Duignan, P., Wang, J., Bingham, J., Finn, H., Bejder, L., Patterson, I., Holyoake, C., (2014), Cetacean Morbillivirus in Coastal Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, Western Australia, Emerging Infectious Diseases (Print), 20, 4, pages 672 - 676.
  • Van Bressem, M., Duignan, P., Banyard, A., Barbieri, M., Colegrove, K., De Guise, S., Di Guardo, G., Dobson, A., Domingo, M., Fauquier, D., Stephens, N., (2014), Cetacean Morbillivirus: Current Knowledge and Future Directions, Viruses, 6, 12, pages 5145 - 5181.
  • Gorman, S., Weeden, C., Tan, D., Scott, N., Hart, J., Foong, R., Mok, D., Stephens, N., Zosky, G., Hart, P., (2013), Reversible Control by Vitamin D of Granulocytes andBacteria in the Lungs of Mice: An Ovalbumin-Induced Model of Allergic Airway Disease, PLoS One, 8, 6, pages -.
  • Kryszczyk, E., Kopps, A., Bacher, K., Smith, H., Stephens, N., Meighan, N., Mann, J., (2013), A report on six cases of seagrass-associated gastric impaction in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.), Marine Mammal Science, 29, 3, pages 548 - 554.
  • Cannell, B., Campbell, K., Stephens, N., (2013), The pathology and pathogenicity of a novel Haemoproteus spp. infection in wild Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor), Veterinary Parasitology, 197, 42767, pages 74 - 84.
  • Jacoby-Alner, T., Stephens, N., Davern, K., Balmer, L., Brown, S., Swindells, K., (2011), Histopathological analysis and in situ localisation of Australian tiger snake venom in two clinically envenomed domestic animals, Toxicon, 58, 4, pages 304 - 314.

Here is a link to my material on Murdoch University’s Research Repository:,_Nahiid.html

Peer-reviewed journal articles:

Technical reports:

  • Holyoake, C., Finn, H., Stephens, N.,Duignan, P., Salgado, C., Smith, H., Bejder, L., Linke, T., Daniel, C., Lo, H. N., Ham, G. S., Moiler, K., Allen, S., Bryant, K., and McElligott, D.  2010. “Technical Report on the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) Unusual Mortality Event within the Swan Canning Riverpark, June-October 2009.” Advisory report delivered to the Swan River Trust 2010 and made available online to the public. Available at:

  • Holyoake, C., Finn, H., Stephens, N., Linke, T., Daniel, C., Allen, S., Smith, H., McElligott, D., Bryant, K., and Bejder, L. “Toxicant exposure, population genetics, and trophic associations of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in the Swan River. Final report to the Swan River Trust for the Swan Canning Research Innovation (SCRIP) Project RSG09MUR01.” Feb 2009 – Aug 2011.

  • Holyoake, C., Stephens, N., Coughran, D. 2012. “Collection of baseline data on humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) health and causes of mortality for long-term monitoring in Western Australia.” Advisory report delivered to the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI). Available at:

  • Chabanne, D., Harrison, L.M., Holyoake, C., Finn, H., Stephens, N., Bejder, L. 2012. “Swan Canning Riverpark dolphin population ecology and health investigations. Final report to the Swan River Trust for the Project RSP10MUR03.”