I am a behavioural ecologist drawn to the rare, the unknown, and the exceptionally weird. To me, attempting to discover an organism’s secrets is like an explorer embarking on a quest to discover new lands. I am a keen natural historian with a broad interest in both fauna and flora with an obvious bias towards the ‘little animals that run the earth‘. It is true I am drawn to the amazing world of invertebrates, but I have a soft spot for amphibians (frogs are really invertebrates with backbones), the odd rhino and a childhood fondness of the hippopotamus. I am happy to work on pretty much any animal and pretty much anywhere in the world! the more exotic the better :o).
It’s also true that I love playing and watching most types of sport, and enjoy a bit of social kick-around, less-than-pro-tennis and rogaining – which, at times, is exactly like exploring new lands i.e. having no idea where I am and having no idea where to go next. I maintain this extreme fitness regime by avidly consuming Weetbix, Milo and spearmint milk (when I can find a supplier that is!).
I completed my BSc at the University of Newcastle many eons ago. I went onto to do an Honours project at U of N looking at Transfer cells in Broad beans under the wonderful supervisor Prof. Christina Offler. After honours I worked as a Laboratory technical officer for the Department of Botany and Zoology at the University of Sydney. After a year and half I needed a big holiday and for 2 years I travelled and worked in Europe and Africa. In among the various factory jobs, I managed to snare some sweet conservation work. My first being a Reserve Warden for the North Wildlife Trust overseeing the seabird breeding colony in Cemlyn Bay in Anglesey North Wales. I lived in a converted stone cow shed and spent my days counting animals and plants while entertaining the odd visitor. This job really cemented what I wanted to do with my science degree. In 2000 I travelled to Kenya on a mission to work with hippopotamuses. I got very close to succeeding when given an opportunity to conduct a research project on Black Rhinos in Lake Nakuru National Park. This was one of the best second prizes that anyone could attain. Every day tracking rhinos on foot for 4 months to investigate their foodplants. Frankly you do not know you are alive until you have a 3500kg animal charging at you! Its exhilarating, mesmerising and spectacularly beautiful.
After 2 years, I had to return home. After a nice bout of Malaria, I got a job with the Evolutionary Biology Unit at the Australian Museum in Sydney before transferring to what was known as the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Research. For 7 years I worked with some amazing people and was involved in lots of different and interesting projects from creating online taxonomic keys, to being part of a team conducting large scale field projects in the Pilbara to running a state-wide community science programme known as BugWise which conducted invertebrate workshops across NSW and created tools that community could use to monitor the progress of their habitat restoration projects. In 2007 I decided to take things in to my own hands and began a PhD looking at the behavioural ecology of the Feather legged Assassin Bugs under the supervision of Mariella Herberstein and Gerry Cassis. Since the completion of my PhD in 2012 I have worked at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama on tungara frogs; the National University of Singapore with jumping spiders; New Guinea on colour changing frogs and a range of projects on invertebrates and deception. During this time I have convened and co-convened several units at Macquarie University and contributed to many others. I have been recognised at the Faculty, University and National levels for teaching excellence.
Since July 2015 I have had the awesome title of Lecturer in Animal Behaviour.