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JUNE 2013
INTRODUCTIONS
 POST-GRAD    |  
Prudence (Prue) Fabian
Prue Fabian recently joined the Banks lab as a postgraduate student. She completed an honours degree at UNSW working on a palaeontology project. “I identified the first known Tertiary representatives of the Feather-tail Possums (Acrobatidae, Marsupialia),” said Prue. “I determined and described four new fossil species.”
Prue Fabian recently joined the Banks lab as a postgraduate student. She completed an honours degree at UNSW working on a palaeontology project. “I identified the first known Tertiary representatives of the Feather-tail Possums (Acrobatidae, Marsupialia),” said Prue. “I determined and described four new fossil species.”

However Prue’s PhD work will focus on a living animal – the native bush rat (Rattus fruscipes). “Some of the things I will be looking at in my project will be determining the effect of personality on reintroduction success, if sociality influences the fate of the individuals released and how successful these reintroductions have been over the long term, as well as further reintroductions.”

Like many of us, Prue was drawn to the natural world from an early age and still relishes the opportunity to get out into the field. “Biology has always been something that I’ve been passionate about and something that my family has imparted on me from all the camping trips growing up,” she said. “I just love getting to be out in the field, nothing compares to it.”
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 POST-DOC    |  
Gabriel Machovsky-Capuska
Dr Gabriel Machovsky-Capuska joins his former supervisor, Professor David Raubenheimer, as the Loxton Bequest research fellow in field-based nutritional ecology. “My primary research interest addresses the nutritional and sensory ecology of marine and terrestrial animals,” explained Gabriel.
Dr Gabriel Machovsky-Capuska joins his former supervisor, Professor David Raubenheimer, as the Loxton Bequest research fellow in field-based nutritional ecology. His appointment is between the School of Biological Sciences, the Faculty of Veterinary Science and the Charles Perkins Centre. “My primary research interest addresses the nutritional and sensory ecology of marine and terrestrial animals,” explained Gabriel. “My current research aims to understand the effects of nutrient balance on the behaviour, physiology, life history and fitness of animals.”

Gabriel completed a PhD in 2012 from Massey University studying the Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator). “My work experience also includes research on breeding, diet and foraging behaviour of marine and terrestrial species from Argentina, Antarctica and New Zealand.” Whilst at the University of Sydney Gabriel plans to take a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the relationship between foraging strategies, decision making process and nutrient intake. “My interests extend beyond pure research to include also applied goals, including the conservation of endangered species and pest management.”

The opportunity to work in the multidisciplinary environment at the Charles Perkins Centre and to work with top-class research scientists at the University were what attracted Gabriel to the role. “When you have the opportunity to work with the best people in your field, you are inspired to give 110 percent of your energy to try to partially emulate what your mentors have achieved over their careers,” Gabriel said. “That's a real privilege, a real "life time opportunity" and I am more than grateful for that!”
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 RA    |  
David Nelson
David (Dave) Nelson returns to the School of Biological Sciences to join the Desert Ecology Research Group as a research assistant. Dave completed his honours degree with the School under the supervision of Rick Shine and Michael Crossland in 2008.
David (Dave) Nelson returns to the School of Biological Sciences to join the Desert Ecology Research Group as a research assistant. Dave completed his honours degree with the School under the supervision of Rick Shine and Michael Crossland in 2008. “My honours project involved field work at the tropical ecology research station at Fogg Damn near Darwin,” he said. “I looked at predators of cane toads – a fish and a frog - and how they learn to live with these novel toxic prey items.”

Dave’s current role will also involve a substantial field-work component. “We run regular field trips to the Simpson Desert to conduct various types of ecological research – from looking at the regional-scale and long-term patterns like the effects of fire, boom and bust and climate, right down to, say, the behaviour and home range of an individual predator,” Dave explained. “The Simpson is a special place, the research trips that have been run out there for more than 20 years are fantastic, and it’s hard not to get drawn in.”

As well as leading trips out to the Simpson desert, Dave do a lot of work on the logistical side of running things and deal with samples and data that come back to Sydney. “Apart from this, I have a couple of projects – soil seed bank samples and looking at desert frog data – to keep me busy when no trips are looming.”

When asked what brought him back to the University he said, “Since graduating I’ve spent a lot of time away from Sydney, travelling and living in various places in Australia and abroad, participating in a variety of volunteer projects and working in the environmental and research fields. This work ticks all the boxes for me – regular field work to get me my fix of the outdoors, science that I’m interested in and is asking valuable questions, a stimulating community and many friends within the university.” We’re lucky to have you back Dave!
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 ACADEMIC    |  
David Raubenheimer
Professor David Raubenheimer is a welcome addition to the academic staff in the School. Originally from South Africa, David has come most recently from Massey University in New Zealand. David’s nutritional ecology research has spanned insects to fish, birds and a range of mammals.
Professor David Raubenheimer is a welcome addition to the academic staff in the School. Originally from South Africa, David has come most recently from Massey University in New Zealand. David’s nutritional ecology research has spanned insects to fish, birds and a range of mammals, including rats, mice, mink, dogs, cats, giant pandas, lemurs, monkeys, gorillas and humans!

David’s Leonard P Ullmann Chair in Nutritional Ecology is a co-appointment between the School of Biological Sciences, the Faculty of Veterinary Science and the Charles Perkins Centre. For more read the University’s news story about David’s arrival.
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 POST-DOC    |  
Helena Skar
Dr Helena Skar has recently arrived in Australia to take up a post-doctoral research position with Professor Eddie Holmes. “I will be studying emerging infectious diseases from an evolutionary perspective,” Helena explained.
Dr Helena Skar has recently arrived in Australia to take up a post-doctoral research position with Professor Eddie Holmes. “I will be studying emerging infectious diseases from an evolutionary perspective,” Helena explained. “In particular I will be focusing on the processes that are involved in epidemic spread and I will try to determine why certain cross-species transmissions result in dead-end infections and why others are able to establish themselves in their new hosts.”

Of Swedish origin, Helena completed her PhD degree at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm before joining the Theoretical Biology and Biophysics group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the USA. Now with a move to Sydney, she is truly getting to see the world through science. And what drew her to the School of Biological Sciences? “Foremost the possibility to work with Professor Edward Holmes, but also the exciting work that is being done at the School in the field of evolutionary ecology and marine biology. The fact that the position was in Sydney, Australia made it even more attractive for me.”
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CONGRATULATIONS
Fellow of the Royal Society
Professor Steve Simpson has been elected to the fellowship of the Royal Society, a prestigious UK scientific body. For more read the SoBS news-story.
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Faculty of Science Prizes
The Faculty of Sciences Prizes ceremony was held on Wednesday 15 May. Amongst the School of Biological Sciences winners were Martyna Molak, who won the Postgraduate Research Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement and a team of academics and technical staff, who won the Learning and Teaching Award. Well done!
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School of Biological Sciences Prizes
The School of Biological Sciences annual Prizes and Scholarships Awards Ceremony was held on Friday 24 May. Undergraduate and postgraduate student prizes were awarded to over twenty biology students.
The occasional address this year was given by Professor Ben Oldroyd and the student address was delivered by James Makinson.
The School of Biological Sciences annual Prizes and Scholarships Awards Ceremony was held on Friday 24 May. Undergraduate and postgraduate student prizes were awarded to over twenty biology students.

The occasional address this year was given by Professor Ben Oldroyd and the student address was delivered by James Makinson. They both did a fantastic job of entertaining and inspiring the audience of students and their families.

Photos from the evening (kindly take by Malcolm Ricketts) can be viewed on the School’s facebook page.
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Society for Conservation Biology Member Spotlight
Dr Renata Ferrari Legorreta, post-doctoral research fellow in quantitative marine ecology, has become one of six Society for Conservation members to be ‘spotlighted’ this year. For more read here.
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THANKS
Teaching
Our first- and second-year units of study have received stunning feedback from students at the recent staff-student liaison committee meetings. Particular mention was made of the excellent organisation and support from the technical team. Well done and many thanks to all involved for your hard work.
Our first- and second-year units of study have received stunning feedback from students at the recent staff-student liaison committee meetings. Particular mention was made of the excellent organisation and support from the technical team. Well done and many thanks to all involved for your hard work. 

The third-year staff-student liaison sessions have not yet been run, but we hope for a constructive and positive meeting.
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NOTICES
Faculty of Science Academic Board Review
The Faculty of Science is currently undergoing an academic board review. As part of this process several academics, staff and students will be interviewed by the review panel. The School has put forward various names to the panel and, if you were on this list, you may be called may be called upon to participate.
The Faculty of Science is currently undergoing an academic board review. As part of this process several academics, staff and students will be interviewed by the review panel. The School has put forward various names to the panel and, if you were on this list, you may be called may be called upon to participate.

Individuals were not consulted before being put forward to the panel, so don’t be surprised if you are contacted. For more about the review see here.
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CONTENTS
Introductions
Congratulations
Thanks
Notices
Cancer Council’s Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea
Media
Events
Stay connected
CANCER COUNCIL’S AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST MORNING TEA
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A big thank you to those who baked cakes and donated money to the Cancer Council as part of last month’s Head of School morning tea. We raised over $200 and the cakes were delicious and creative. Photos of the cakes can be found on the School’s facebook page.
A big thank you to those who baked cakes and donated money to the Cancer Council as part of last month’s Head of School morning tea. We raised over $200 and the cakes were delicious and creative. Photos of the cakes can be found on the School’s facebook page

Only one vote separated the winning cake, Cecily Oakley’s dissected koala, from Luana Lin’s isopod – well done! Congratulations must also go to Alex Kyriazis, who did a fantastic job of organising the event.
MEDIA
ABC Science | Eddie Holmes
Bats a ‘major natural reservoir’ of viruses

Sydney Morning Herald | Dieter Hochuli and Catherine Price
Survival in the City

Sydney Morning Herald | Adrian Davis
Spotlight on cockatoo, winged wanderer who loves city life

Radio National | Peter Banks
Background Briefing 5/5/13

New Scientist | Rick Shine
If all painted turtles turn female, it’s curtains

Australian Financial Review | Steve Simpson
Recognition for scientists

2UE | Rick Shine
Nights with Clive Robertson 15/5/13

The Conversation | Tanya Latty
Worker ant-ics could lead us to search and rescue robots

St George & Sutherland Shire Leader | Ben Oldroyd
Microscopic mite will bug bees

The Australian | Steve Simpson
Locusts lead to a fat chance-discovery
EVENTS
13 June 2013
Postgraduate Research Showcase, DTA 9:15am
21 August 2013
Murray lecture: Carbon copies – inheritance of the human genome
31 August 2013
Open Day
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