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DECEMBER 2012
INTRODUCTIONS
Sarsha Gorissen
Sarsha is a new PhD student working on conservation biology in the Shine lab. However, she may be a familiar face to some in the School, as Sarsha has previously worked as an associate lecturer for first-year biology.
Sarsha is a new PhD student working on conservation biology in the Shine lab. However, she may be a familiar face to some in the School, as Sarsha has previously worked as an associate lecturer for first-year biology.  

Sarsha completed an honours degree in biological science at the University of New South Wales before joining the University of Sydney as an associate lecturer. She then worked as a research assistant in molecular genetics at Neuroscience Research Australia followed by a period as a visiting academic at the Zoological Institute, University of Greifswald, Germany.

Sarsha’s PhD project is entitled “Conserving the endangered fauna of montane swamps.” She will investigate the relationship between fire regimes, changes in soil moisture levels and the endangered Blue Mountains Water Skink. In addition, Sarsha plans to look at other vulnerable reptiles of the highland peat swamps in the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau. “I am passionate about nature and the environment and want to stand for the cause of conservation.”
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FAREWELLS
Basil, Helen and Liz
It is with sad hearts but warm wishes that we say goodbye and good luck to Basil Panayotakos, Helen Kranidiotis and Elizabeth May.
It is with sad hearts but warm wishes that we say goodbye and good luck to Basil Panayotakos, Helen Kranidiotis and Elizabeth May.

Basil Panayotakos, who joined the School workshop in 1979, is leaving after 33 years of service. He has made a huge contribution to the research work in Biology over those years. Basil’s warm personality will be missed as much as his engineering and technical skills.

Helen Kranidiotis has been here for just over 16 years in the genetics lab team. We want to thank her for the efficient and organised work she has done for the School and her subsequent impact on countless genetics students.

Dr Elizabeth May has been with the School for 18 years and in that time has made a major contribution to the teaching of animal biology and as Director of first-year biology. She has been a wonderful mentor to thousands of students. We wish her all the best.
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CONGRATULATIONS
ARC Grant Winners
Staff of the School of Biological Sciences have been awarded eight Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery grants in the latest round - two of them are administered by other institutions. Other grants to be awarded recently include
Staff of the School of Biological Sciences have been awarded eight Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery grants in the latest round - two of them are administered by other institutions. Other grants to be awarded recently include an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award and a Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grant administered by the University of Technology, Sydney. Congratulations to all!

Discovery Projects

School of Biological Sciences
  • Dr Mary Byrne - The role of the ribosome and translation in plant fertility ($422,000)
  • Professor Rick Shine - Cane toads as a model system for demographic analysis and invasive-species control ($450,000)
  • Professor Steve Simpson and Dr Fleur Ponton - Integrating nutritional immunology ($432,000)
  • Professor Mike Thompson - Lively reproduction: do common molecules underlie all vertebrate live birth? ($310,000)
  • Associate Professor Ashley Ward and Dr Jerome Buhl - Leadership matters: the emergence of informed leaders and their influence on group movement ($360,000)
  • Associate Professor Ashley Ward - From individual interactions to global patterns: understanding the basis of collective behaviour ($126,311)
Other
  • Dr Simon Ho (with the University of Adelaide) – Refining the timescale of human evolution and dispersal using ancient DNA ($270,000)
  • Professor Peter Waterhouse (with the Australian National University) – The use of molecular sponges to inhibit small Ribonucleic acid activity in plants ($490,000)
Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
  • Dr Shawn Wilder – The nutritional regulation of food chain length in terrestrial arthropod communities ($375,000)
Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities Grant
  • Associate Professor Neville Firth and Professor Peter Waterhouse (along with a large group of collaborators on a grant administered by the University of Technology, Sydney) - A research platform for exploring the genotype: phenotype nexus ($650,000)
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Promotions
Several promotions have been made within the School. These include Mathew Crowther and Osu Lilje to Senior Lecturer, Shawn Wilder to Lecturer and Nate Lo and Simon Ho to Associate Professor level. Well done!
Grant for Greenville
PhD student Aaron Greenville has won a $7,000 grant from Humane Society International. The grant will assist with Aaron’s research into the role that dingoes play in the conservation of Australia’s mammals.
PhD student Aaron Greenville has won a $7,000 grant from Humane Society International. The grant will assist with Aaron’s research into the role that dingoes play in the conservation of Australia’s mammals. For more read the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife announcement.
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NOTICES
 EVENTS    |  
50th Birthday lecture series
The next in the series will be delivered by Professor Steve Simpson, with the eclectic title ‘A tale of paintbrushes, party drugs, cannibalism and obesity’. This lecture is free but RSVP to biorsvp@sydney.edu.au is essential.
Last month Associate Professor Dieter Hochuli gave the second in the series of lectures held as part of the 50th birthday celebrations. The talk generated lively debates about the value of suburban environmental re-generation programs and the ecological future of our big cities.

The next in the series will be delivered by Professor Steve Simpson, with the eclectic title ‘A tale of paintbrushes, party drugs, cannibalism and obesity’. This lecture is free but RSVP to biorsvp@sydney.edu.au is essential.
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 WHS    |  
Christmas closedown
The University is in ‘shutdown’ between close of business Wednesday 18 December and re-opening Wednesday 2 January. If you come into work during this time it is considered as "Limited After Hours" work as defined by the WHS guidelines.
The University is in ‘shutdown’ between close of business Wednesday 18 December and re-opening Wednesday 2 January. If you come into work during this time it is considered as "Limited After Hours" work as defined by the WHS guidelines.

Below is a list of restrictions and permissions required for Research Students working during this time.

  • Low Risk Activities: Research students require verbal supervisor approval for low risk activities such as: taking readings from low risk experiments; preparation of samples for use on instruments; dry laboratory work (e.g. using microscopes or computers).
  • Moderate Risk Activities: Research students require written supervisor approval, established standard operating procedures, evidence of competency, buddy system and security notification for activities such as: work with Risk Group 2 microorganism; working with low level radiation or low powered lasers; working in general chemistry laboratories; working with small and medium size non-venomous or non-infectious animals.
  • High Risk Activities are prohibited to research students.
Similar restrictions apply to staff. Except some high risk activities can be performed by staff e.g. handling venomous reptiles, insects, arthropods or fish; handling infectious animals; working with large animals other than for the purpose of feeding or observation. However, this work requires Head of School/Unit approval; risk assessment; established standard operating procedures; evidence of competency; buddy system; line of sight contact with a colleague of equivalent competency; security notification; special conditions as applicable.

Please consult the WHS weblink www.sydney.edu.au/whs/guidelines/others/working_after_hours.shtml for more detail.
 WHS    |  
Buddy system in the workshop
A ‘buddy system’ is now required when the workshop machinist is using high-speed machinery. What this means is that the person who requested the work will have to be present when the high-speed machinery is being used.
A ‘buddy system’ is now required when the workshop machinist is using high-speed machinery. What this means is that the person who requested the work will have to be present when the high-speed machinery is being used. The ‘buddy’ need not watch the machinist the whole time but they will need to check on them from time-to-time and be familiar with safety produces for the workshop. For more information read the standard operation procedure (SOP) for the Buddy system on the School’s intranet.
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CONTENTS
Introductions
Farewells
Congratulations
Notices
School Research Networking Event
Media
Events
Stay connected
SCHOOL RESEARCH NETWORKING EVENT
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The inaugural School of Biological Sciences Networking Event was held late last month. The plan from Robyn Overall (Head of School) and Ben Oldroyd (Chair of Research Committee) was to promote as many conversations between colleagues as possible in a single afternoon. It looked sort-of like scientist speed dating.
The inaugural School of Biological Sciences Networking Event was held late last month. The plan from Robyn Overall (Head of School) and Ben Oldroyd (Chair of Research Committee) was to promote as many conversations between colleagues as possible in a single afternoon. It looked sort-of like scientist speed dating.

The aims were to gain new insights into our own research by discussing it with colleagues from other areas of biology; identify potential research collaborators within the School; gather ideas for potential collaborators outside of the School; practice talking about our research to non-specialists and identify potential industry applications for our research and opportunities for engaging with industry partners. Phew! Big aims, but from feedback, many participants found it a great success.

It was a chance for members of the School to mingle in a structured way. “More and more, successful networking is the key to getting science done,” said Ben. Participants were divided into two groups depending on whether they pulled a plant or animal picture out of the hat. The plants on the inner circle and the animals on the outer circle, scientists rotated around the room with six-minutes per discussion. The room was a-buzz with ideas, explanations and exclamations of “oh, so that’s what you work on!”

The event was facilitated by Penny Oxford (Science Support Manager) and Helen Jones (Commercialisation Theme Leader). “It was a fantastic opportunity to hear what other people are working on, to offer some ideas and to find some possible future collaborators,” said Penny. “I hear on the grapevine that a few coffee dates are already scheduled.”

If you missed the event, never fear, there are already plans for another one in 2013.
MEDIA
Climate change, fat spiders, obese locusts, scarce goannas, taste-aversion therapy, multiplying native rats and memorable slime mould...
Climate change, fat spiders, obese locusts, scarce goannas, taste-aversion therapy, multiplying native rats and memorable slime mould...

ABC Radio National | Chris Reid
Spatial Memory in Slime Mould

ABC Radio National | Aaron Greenville
Rural News 20/11/12

ABC National Rural News | Aaron Greenville
Simpson Desert: so hot right now

ABC | Steve Simpson
Bugs help the fight against obesity

Kimberley Echo | Rick Shine & Jonno Webb
Taste aversion therapy trials tackle toad issue

7.30 NT ABC1 | Rick Shine
Goanna hunt: a project to protect yellow spotted monitors from cane toads

The Age | Lizzy Lowe
City dwelling spiders getting all warm and fuzzy - and bigger

Sydney Morning Herald | Lizzy Lowe
Warmth and healthy menu give city spiders big edge on country cousins

3AW (Melbourne) | Lizzy Lowe
Interview on Afternoons program with Dennis Walter 3/12/12

The Project (Channel 10) | Lizzy Lowe
Seg 2, 3/12/12

720 ABC (Perth) | Lizzy Lowe
Interview on Breakfast program with Eoin Cameron 4/12/12

Sydney Morning Herald | Peter Banks
Native rat stakes claim on former turf

Central | Aaron Greenville
PhD Student is given science grant
EVENTS
11 December 2012, 1pm
SoBS Christmas Party @ The Grand Stand ($10)
23 January 2013, 6pm-7pm
A tale of paintbrushes, party drugs, cannibalism and obesity
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