The University of Sydney
SCHOOL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES EUPDATE
WEBSITE CONTACT US
MARCH 2013
INTRODUCTIONS
 POST-DOC    |  
Jie Cui
Dr Jie Cui joins the School of Biological Sciences as a post-doc in Eddie Holmes’ Viral Evolution group. He completed a PhD in molecular ecology at the East China Normal University in 2011, before joining Eddie’s lab at Penn State. “During my PhD I mainly studied retrovirus evolution and host adaptive evolution,” said Jie, who has researched the viruses of bats, budgerigars, ferrets, plants, platypus and people.
Dr Jie Cui joins the School of Biological Sciences as a post-doc in Eddie Holmes’ Viral Evolution group. He completed a PhD in molecular ecology at the East China Normal University in 2011, before joining Eddie’s lab at Penn State. “During my PhD I mainly studied retrovirus evolution and host adaptive evolution,” said Jie, who has researched the viruses of bats, budgerigars, ferrets, plants, platypus and people. “Now I will be working on exploring the basic principles governing the origin and evolutionary process of emerging viruses.”

Jie came to Australia last October, so he has had a few months to settle in to the research culture of the School. And his opinion of science at Sydney? “The research environment at the University of Sydney is attractive - I can discuss scientific questions with world-top scientists and enjoy the beautiful Sydney days!”
Event image 9883
 POST-DOC    |  
John-Sebastian (J-S) Eden
Dr John-Sebastian Eden, J-S to his friends, is the latest addition to Eddie Holmes’ growing lab. J-S joins the School of Biological Sciences having completed his PhD in virology at the University of New South Wales. “My PhD examined the evolution and emergence of epidemic norovirus,” said J-S, “which is a virus of increasing notoriety that can cause widespread outbreaks of gastro in the community.”
Dr John-Sebastian Eden, J-S to his friends, is the latest addition to Eddie Holmes’ growing lab. J-S joins the School of Biological Sciences having completed his PhD in virology at the University of New South Wales. “My PhD examined the evolution and emergence of epidemic norovirus,” said J-S, “which is a virus of increasing notoriety that can cause widespread outbreaks of gastro in the community.”

J-S plans to continue his viral studies here, with a focus on exploring how viruses adapt to new hosts and how their virulence evolves. “Most viruses that emerge in human populations are actually animal viruses infecting humans,” said J-S, while explaining his research plans. “It is commonly believed that when a virus crosses the species barrier and infects a new host, it causes more severe disease. This is not always a case.” J-S says we know very little about how 'virulence' changes in a new host, but he plans to start working it out!

When asked about his first impressions of the School he said, “I have really enjoyed my first couple of weeks in SoBS, especially working in the Macleay building with a gargoyle staring at me all day through the window!” Carved sandstone being one of the perks of working at Australia’s premier University. “It is also exciting to work with Professor Eddie Holmes, who is a world class researcher and someone I hope to learn a lot from.” World-class researchers being another!
Event image 9884
 LIBRARY    |  
Joy Wearne
A new addition to the team of Faculty librarians, Joy Wearne joins the University as the School of Biological Sciences liaison. Joy says, “My role is to be the contact for the School and to work with staff and students to ensure the resources and services provided by the Library are meeting teaching and research requirements.”
A new addition to the team of Faculty librarians, Joy Wearne joins the University as the School of Biological Sciences liaison. Joy says, “My role is to be the contact for the School and to work with staff and students to ensure the resources and services provided by the Library are meeting teaching and research requirements.” Joy is therefore your point of contact for introductions to library services and resources, database tutorials, help with collection management, and help with the use of Endnote for managing citations and bibliographies. “I like getting out and about so am very happy to do 'house calls' on campus.”

Joy joins the University with a wealth of library experience. “My first university library job was at Macquarie University and the subject area I was responsible for was law.” She then moved back to her home of Wellington, New Zealand and worked as Head of Reference Services at the Wellington Medical & Health Sciences Library, at the University of Otago Wellington Campus. “I was there for four years before moving to Jakarta, Indonesia. I had several volunteer jobs in Jakarta, including working in the libraries of a literary translation foundation and of the Indonesia Heritage Society.” Joy came back to Australia last year for a fixed-term position at Macquarie University as Liaison Librarian for the Australian School of Advanced Medicine, and for the Departments of Physiotherapy, Linguistics and Chiropractic.

“I saw the vacancy here [at the University of Sydney] late last year and was immediately attracted,” said Joy. “It presented an opportunity to work in an interesting subject area in a world-renowned university. I enjoyed working at Macquarie and living out near the Macquarie campus; but I'm ready for a change and wanted to move into a more central urban environment.”
Event image 9967
 VISITOR    |  
Robert Willows
Associate Professor Robert Willows joins the School, and Min Chen’s group, on sabbatical from the Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at Macquarie University. Robert is a biochemist whose main area of research is the regulation, structure and function of enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of chlorophyll.
Associate Professor Robert Willows joins the School, and Min Chen’s group, on sabbatical from the Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at Macquarie University. Robert is a biochemist whose main area of research is the regulation, structure and function of enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of chlorophyll. “Some of the other research projects that I'm involved in are wheat proteomics, characterisation of the heme containing enzyme indoleamine dioxygenase in humans and development of novel fluorescent probes called SUPER Dots,” said Robert.

Robert and Min are long-term collaborators, with current and previous ARC grants together to characterise the cyanobacteria Halomicronema hongdechloris. H. hongdechloris being the chlorophyll-f containing cyanobacteria of the 2010 Science paper ‘A Red-Shifted Chlorophyll’. “Our ARC grant is to characterise H. hongdechloris and work out how chlorophyll-f is made and how it is used in photosynthesis.” For the next five months Robert will be hosted by the School while he works on the assembly of the genome of the cyanobacteria.
Event image 9886
 POST-DOC    |  
Camilla Wittington
Dr Camilla Wittington has returned from Switzerland to the University of Sydney to join Mike Thompson’s lab. Camilla completed her bachelor’s degree and PhD with the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Sydney. “For my PhD I investigated various aspects of platypus biology using comparative genomic techniques,” said Camilla.
Dr Camilla Wittington has returned from Switzerland to the University of Sydney to join Mike Thompson’s lab. Camilla completed her bachelor’s degree and PhD with the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Sydney. “For my PhD I investigated various aspects of platypus biology using comparative genomic techniques,” said Camilla. During her PhD candidature, Camilla spent a year at Washington University School of Medicine as a Fulbright Scholar. “I investigated aspects of the innate immune system in platypuses, and conducted the first broad-scale investigation of platypus venom, discovering a number of novel toxins that may be useful for drug discovery efforts in the future.”

Camilla’s Swiss post-doc was at the University of Zurich, where she worked with seahorses and pipefish. “I wanted to further pursue my interest in the evolution of novel traits, and seahorses and pipefish have male pregnancy. I investigated behavioural, embryological and genomic aspects of these species.” While with the School of Biological Sciences, Camilla plans to continue her investigations into pregnancy, but now with lizards that give birth to live young. “I will be working with a species of Australian skink that has an unusual growth factor expressed in the uterus,” explained Camilla. “This growth factor has been found previously in human cancer cells, and we are interested in learning more about its mode of action and the possible link between the evolution of live birth and cancer susceptibility.”

Camilla’s journey back to the University of Sydney was inspired by the strong collaborative links that Mike Thompson has built with the Faculty of Medicine. “It was particularly attractive to me that Mike's group includes researchers from a range of different disciplines, making it a really collaborative and stimulating research environment. I am very excited for the opportunity to work here.”
Event image 9887
 HONOURS    |  
Semester One Students Begin
Fruit fly feeding, locust teeth, mammal pollination, plant pits, roaches, soil clumping fungi and more! The honours projects being undertaken by the first semester intake of students highlight the diversity of research being undertaken in the school.
Fruit fly feeding, locust teeth, mammal pollination, plant pits, roaches, soil clumping fungi and more! The honours projects being undertaken by the first semester intake of students highlight the diversity of research being undertaken in the school.

From left to right (standing) Alicia Boyd, Zoe Britton-Harper, Amelia Saul, Jun Tong, Ashley Montagu (seated) Alex Richardson, Ireni Clarke, Jordon Krucler, Sarah Beaumont.

Welcome students. My wish for you: that all your experiments run smoothly and your writing-up be pain free!
Event image 10007
Back to top 
CONGRATULATIONS
Edwards Oration
Professor Steve Simpson has been invited by the Australian Society for Medical Research to present the 2013 Edwards Oration. This prestigious lecture will be delivered at their annual National Scientific Conference held in Ballarat in November.
Professor Steve Simpson has been invited by the Australian Society for Medical Research to present the 2013 Edwards Oration. This prestigious lecture will be delivered at their annual National Scientific Conference held in Ballarat in November.

This year the theme of the conference is ageing, with a focus on the National Priority Areas of arthritis, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, injury and obesity. The president of the Australian Society for Medical Research, Professor Naomi Rogers, wrote in a letter to Steve “We are confident you would be a most fitting Orator at a conference about ageing” – presumably because of Steve’s outstanding research, his role as director of the Charles Perkins Centre and his wonderful speaking manner...rather than any personal experience of ageing (hehe).
Event image 9959
New Postgraduate Committee President
The incoming president of the Postgraduate Student Committee is Ms Lizzy Lowe. Congratulations! Lizzy has just commenced the second year of her PhD candidature in Dieter Hochuli’s lab. “I’m looking forward to this year because the postgraduate peer group is a really important aspect of my life at USyd,” said Lizzy.
The incoming president of the Postgraduate Student Committee is Ms Lizzy Lowe. Congratulations! Lizzy has just commenced the second year of her PhD candidature in Dieter Hochuli’s lab. “I’m looking forward to this year because the postgraduate peer group is a really important aspect of my life at USyd,” said Lizzy. “Your fellow postgrads are an amazing source of information, knowledge and support. I really encourage everyone to get involved in some postgraduate events this year.”

At the February Head of School morning tea Martyna Molak, the outgoing president, thanked the postgraduate committee executive, Joanna Malyon and Semra Yetke for all their support during her presidency. Of Martyna’s term Lizzy said. “I would like to say a huge thank you to Martyna for all her work over the last year. We have had so many great events during her time as president and everything she organised ran without a hitch as a result of all her tireless efforts” Here here!
Event image 9963
Q&A with Bob May
The graduate students in the School of Biological Sciences caught up with Professor Lord Robert May of Oxford when he was lately in Sydney. This Q&A session stemmed from Bob May’s Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B paper from 1999, entitled Unanswered Questions in Ecology.
The graduate students in the School of Biological Sciences caught up with Professor Lord Robert May of Oxford when he was lately in Sydney.

This Q&A session stemmed from Bob May’s Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B paper from 1999, entitled Unanswered Questions in Ecology. The students, led by Lucy Taylor, contacted Bob to ask whether the questions had changed or been answered. As he was planning a visit to Sydney he agreed to meet and discuss these ‘unanswered questions’.

Immediate past-president Martyna Molak said, “We discussed the ‘questions’ as well as some other issues like; how scientists should approach the public when raising awareness and trying to popularise sustainability, how to get funding, careers in science etc.” The Macleay Museum hosted the event, which was attended by the School’s honours and post-graduate students. “The postgrads found it useful and interesting,” said Martyna. “All the opinions [on the event] that I got were very positive.” However, Martyna seems more pessimistic about the conclusions of the discussion, “the unanswered questions in ecology are still unanswered and it’s really hard to fix the world.” Hmmm, nevertheless I will be optimistic that the work our students do may contribute to solutions to the world’s problems!
Event image 9961
Back to top 
THANKS
Second Year A-go-go
The reality of managing our new second year program, with the envious problems of increased student numbers, is now upon us. So we thank all those involved for their patience and perseverance.
Back to top 
NOTICES
 EVENTS    |  
50th Birthday lecture series
Professor Peter Waterhouse will deliver the last lecture in this fabulous series on March 6th. This lecture is free but RSVP to biorsvp@sydney.edu.au is essential.
Last month’s lecture by Associate Professor Clare McArthur was delivered to another full house. The audience included a group of school students from the Central Coast, as well as our band of regular attendees. Clare gave a wonderful talk and her passion for possums was infectious!

Professor Peter Waterhouse will deliver the last lecture in this fabulous series on March 6th. This lecture is free but RSVP to biorsvp@sydney.edu.au is essential.
Event image 9945
 EVENTS    |  
Sydney Science Forum
Join Professor Rick Shine as he describes the results from his team's latest cane toad control studies, including their successful development of a way to stop toads from breeding, and their innovative approach to keep native predators alive by teaching them not to eat toads.
This public lecture is held as part of the Faculty of Science's Sydney Science Forum.
Brought to Australia in 1935 in a futile attempt to control insect pests in agriculture, cane toads have now spread all the way across Queensland and the Northern Territory, and are travelling even faster through Western Australia. Isolated populations have sprung up in New South Wales also, including in the suburbs of Sydney. The toads have had a devastating impact on native animals, fatally poisoning lizards, snakes, marsupials and even crocodiles.

What can we do to control cane toads and to reduce their impact on native species? Professor Rick Shine heads a major research program that has set out to answer these questions, and his work has already attracted a swag of awards both for the quality of the science, and for Rick's ability to transmit his knowledge and enthusiasm to the general public. Join Rick as he describes the results from his team's latest studies, including their successful development of a way to stop toads from breeding, and their innovative approach to keep native predators alive by teaching them not to eat toads.
Event image 9888
Back to top 
CONTENTS
Introductions
Congratulations
Thanks
Notices
Marvellous Microscopes for Macleay
Media
Events
Stay connected
MARVELLOUS MICROSCOPES FOR MACLEAY
Event image 10040
A very exciting delivery arrived last week on Science Road – a huge container of brand-new light microscopes! The sales people discarded their suits, and with the technical team, turned to the job of unpacking, checking and installing. These exciting new purchases arrived just in time for the beginning of classes this week.  

The Motic BA310 advanced upright microscopes will allow our students to continue training on the modern equipment they became familiar with in their junior classes. Well done to all involved and thank you for your hard work!
MEDIA
ABC Newcastle | Chris Dickman
Mornings with Melanie Tait 24/1/13

PhysOrg | Ashley Ward
Nothing fishy about swimming with same-sized mates
 
Herbert River Express | Rick Shine
Toad-busting traps are easy alternative

The Australian | Eddie Holmes
Virus came from bats not rats

Central | Eddie Holmes
Experts on the trail of bat viruses
 
AAP Newswire | Frank Seebacher
Fitness is key in spider sex, study finds

ABC Science | Frank Seebacher
Energetic spiderman gets the girl

Central | Macleay Museum exhibition
Last chance to see exhibition

Cosmos | Steve Simpson
Great Southern Land Blu-ray/DVD
EVENTS
6 March 2013, 6pm-7pm
Defence and the Dark Arts – plants fight back in glowing colours
13 March 2013, 5:45pm-6:45pm
Fear and loathing in Australia – reducing the ecological impact of invasive cane toads
14 March 2013, 1:30pm-5:10pm
Honours Final Seminar, Semester 2 2012 students
STAY CONNECTED
> Past newsletters
Facebook Twitter Youtube
Copyright © 2013 The University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia. Phone +61 2 9351 2222
ABN 15 211 513 464 CRICOS Number: 00026A

Disclaimer | Privacy statement | University of Sydney