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AUGUST 2014
INTRODUCTIONS
 VISITOR    |  
Camilla Benfield
Dr Camilla Benfield is visiting us from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, where she is currently a lecturer in virology. Camilla is travelling on a Leverhulme International Academic Fellowship to work with Professor Eddie Holmes.
Dr Camilla Benfield is visiting us from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, where she is currently a lecturer in virology. Camilla is travelling on a Leverhulme International Academic Fellowship to work with Professor Eddie Holmes. “We will be using evolutionary bioinformatic analyses to illuminate the evolutionary processes acting on host and viruses,” she said. “Previously I have used molecular virology approaches in my research, in particular working with influenza virus and pox viruses.”

Camilla studied veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge, UK. She also completed an MA in Zoology and a PhD in Molecular Virology at the same institution. “I also worked as a veterinary surgeon for 18 months, prior to undertaking my PhD.” Her current research focuses on comparative antiviral immunity. Camilla explains, “for example, how do differences in immune genes of different species contribute to cross-species transmission of viruses and the process of viral emergence?” Ummm, good question. Dunno.

Drawn to Australia by Eddie Holmes’ expertise in viral evolution and the inspiring setting of the Charles Perkins Centre, Camilla hopes her Fellowship will broaden the scope and interdisciplinary nature of her future research. “I am also very interested in a ‘One Health’ approach to studying infectious diseases,” she said. “This visit will be an exciting opportunity to experience the forefront of novel ‘One Health’ research initiatives, and to interact with other researchers from the School of Biological Sciences and beyond.”
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 POSTDOC    |  
Jan Buchmann
Dr Jan Buchmann has recently arrived in Australia to take up a post-doctoral research position with Professor Eddie Holmes. “I will be analysing multiple viral genomes to understand how their genome structure impacts the viruses structure and lifestyle,” Jan said.
Dr Jan Buchmann has recently arrived in Australia to take up a post-doctoral research position with Professor Eddie Holmes. “I will be analysing multiple viral genomes to understand how their genome structure impacts the viruses structure and lifestyle,” Jan said. “I will use comparative genomics and bioinformatics. This work will improve our knowledge of viral evolution and the emergence of new virus strains.”

Jan has done a ‘host jump’ himself – moving from molecular plant biology into the evolution of viruses. He undergraduate, masters and PhD were all completed at the University of Zurich. “My PhD focused on molecular plant biology and I worked in the group of Professor Beat Keller under the supervision of Dr Thomas Wicker - who introduced me into the field of bioinformatics and plant genomics.”

After his PhD, Jan worked for one year as a postdoc at the University of Helsinki, Finland, where he continued the analysis of transposable elements in plants. “I analysed the influence of transposable elements on the genome structure and evolution of grasses,” he explained. “In addition, I was involved in the characterisation and analysis of transposable elements in the Brachypodium distachyon sequencing project and the molecular evolution of ‘cut and paste’ transposases." 

At this point Jan changed topics and moved from plants to viruses. “The opportunity to work with Eddie Holmes has allowed me a ‘host jump’ to the exciting field of molecular evolution of viruses,” Jan exclaimed. He hopes that while here he will learn new methods and approaches, while applying his skills in bioinformatics and comparative genomics. “Eddie Holmes expertise in this field was definitely an important factor in choosing to come to The University of Sydney…The chance to work in warm Sydney winters after spending some time in the north may have influenced this decision as well, slightly.”
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 POSTDOC    |  
Jackie Mahar
Dr Jackie Mahar recently joined Eddie Holmes’ lab as a postdoctoral fellow. “I will be exploring the evolution of virulence in the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus, with the aim of enhancing rabbit biocontrol,” Jackie said. In this project she will be collaborating closely with rabbit biocontrol experts at the CSIRO in Canberra.
Dr Jackie Mahar recently joined Eddie Holmes’ lab as a postdoctoral fellow. “I will be exploring the evolution of virulence in the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus, with the aim of enhancing rabbit biocontrol,” Jackie said. In this project she will be collaborating closely with rabbit biocontrol experts at the CSIRO in Canberra.

Jackie studied a bachelor of medical science with honours, majoring in microbiology, at La Trobe University. This was followed by a PhD in Microbiology at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne. “My major field of research is virology and my PhD project involved the characterisation of norovirus strains isolated from children.”

When asked why she moved to Sydney, Jackie said, “I have a strong interest in the evolution of viruses, and Eddie Holmes is a leading authority in virus evolution and bioinformatics.” She went on to say that “the University of Sydney has an excellent reputation and is well ranked in evolutionary biology and infectious disease research.” Thanks Jackie!
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FAREWELL
Margaret Gilchrist
Mrs Margaret Gilchrist is retiring at the end of August. Margaret has spent the last twenty years with the School, having joined in August of 1994. However her association with the University is much longer, as Margaret also worked at the University in the 60s and 70s.
Mrs Margaret Gilchrist is retiring at the end of August. Margaret has spent the last twenty years with the School, having joined in August of 1994. However her association with the University is much longer, as Margaret also worked at the University in the 60s and 70s.

Margaret was employed as a technical officer by the School of Biological Sciences initially to assist with the running of plant biology and mycology classes.

Head of School, Robyn Overall said, “In addition to delivering excellent technical support, Margaret has played a crucial role in the social glue of the school. A sentiment echoed by Michael Joseph, another long-term staff member of the School, “Margaret was always the ‘social secretary’ organising farewells, special morning teas, parties and events which brought the Macleay tea room and foyers to life.”

“She has been a very caring colleague, always looking out for those around her,” said Robyn. Margaret’s helpful nature and delicious baking will be missed – but we wish her the very best for her retirement.
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Robyn Overall
Head of School and Professor of Plant Sciences, Professor Robyn Overall, retires at the beginning of September. Robyn joined the School in February 1985, “I had planned to stay for just one year,” Robyn said. After nearly thirty years in the School, and more than six years as Head of School, Robyn's energy and passion will be missed.
Head of School and Professor of Plant Sciences, Professor Robyn Overall, retires at the beginning of September. Robyn joined the School in February 1985, “I had planned to stay for just one year,” Robyn said. After nearly thirty years in the School, and more than six years as Head of School, Robyn's energy and passion will be missed.

“I have enjoyed almost everything about my time here. It has been wonderful to share the fun and excitement of research in plant cell biology with the fabulous and often crazy group of people in my lab.”

The School’s focus on plant cell biophysics in the early 1980s was what first attracted Robyn to join the School of Biological Sciences. She then exploited electrophysiological and cell biological techniques to study transport between adjacent cells in plants. More recently, Robyn and her group have moved to use molecular approaches to study the proteins responsible for intercellular transport.

“It has been extremely satisfying to work with the excellent students that choose to study plant sciences at Sydney Uni,” exclaimed Robyn. “I will miss that buzz of meeting a large cohort of first year students and knowing that there was a very good chance that one of them would eventually be a medal winning plant cell biologist!”

As Head of School, Robyn has worked to raise the profile of the Biological Sciences within the University, improve and implement the new undergraduate teaching curriculum, connect with our Alumni and promote our academics and their work. “It has been a pleasure to be Head of School for the past six and a half years,” she said. “I have been impressed by the commitment our staff have to the School and their jobs. I am particularly proud of the way all members of the school have pulled together to develop and then implement our new curriculum.”

She went on to thank all members of the School for their support and their willingness to try new things. “I look forward to seeing the really central role that biological sciences will play in the University in the years to come.” When asked if there was anything she would happily leave behind, she said, “I will not miss the daily avalanche of emails!” Enjoy your retirement Robyn and thank you for support and leadership.
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Shawn Wilder
Dr Shawn Wilder has left both the University of Sydney and Australia to take up an Assistant Professor position (tenure-track) at Oklahoma State University. He joined the School in May 2010 with a year of postdoctoral funding from Professor Steve Simpson. Shawn was subsequently awarded a University of Sydney Postdoctoral Fellowship, and then an ARC DECRA.
Dr Shawn Wilder has left both the University of Sydney and Australia to take up an Assistant Professor position (tenure-track) at Oklahoma State University. He joined the School in May 2010 with a year of postdoctoral funding from Professor Steve Simpson. Shawn was subsequently awarded a University of Sydney Postdoctoral Fellowship, and then an ARC DECRA. “I really enjoyed my time at the University of Sydney,” Shawn said. “I want to thank everyone for welcoming me into SoBS and for being amazing friends and colleagues.”

Whilst here, Shawn worked on the nutritional ecology of carnivorous arthropods. In addition to his research he made contributions to the School through lecturing and mentoring. “My interactions with, and support from, members of the School helped me grow tremendously,” Shawn said. “Hopefully this isn't a farewell and that I'll see people in the future either at meetings or on return visits.” We hope to see you too!
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CONGRATULATIONS
ARC Linkage Grants
Another successful ARC Linkage grant has been brought to the attention of this publication. Professor Mike Thompson, Dr Ricky Spencer (UWS) and collaborators have won funding for their project Extinction of turtles in the River Murray: Consequences and Solutions.
Another successful ARC Linkage grant has been brought to the attention of this publication. Professor Mike Thompson, Dr Ricky Spencer (UWS) and collaborators have won funding for their project Extinction of turtles in the River Murray: Consequences and Solutions.

They are partnered with a number of conservation and management groups including Winton Wetlands Committee of Management Incorporated, Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, North Central Catchment Management Authority, Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife and Save Lake Bonney Group Inc. Phew!

This project aims to identify and quantify causes of declines in turtles along the whole Murray-Darling system. They then plan to develop practical management options to overcome this decline. Mike plans to use a combination of genetic and ecological techniques with a citizen science program. Have you checked out their TurtleSAT app?

Funding from the ARC is worth more than $435K and will expire in 2017. This is an exciting project and one where Mike can fulfil his desire to be the ‘Champion for the turtles’.
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AMSA conference student prizes
Students from the School of Biological Sciences were strongly represented in the prizes awarded at the latest Australian Marine Science Association conference.
Students from the School of Biological Sciences were strongly represented in the prizes awarded at the latest Australian Marine Science Association conference.

Steven Hawes won the Peter Holloway Oceanography Prize for his oral presentation entitled Modelling reef fish connectivity: evaluating larval sources and sinks and the importance of biophysical transport processes.

Natalie Soars was awarded for her talk, Characterisation of sounds produced by temperate and tropical sea urchins, in the temperate marine science category. This prize was sponsored by the Victorian Marine Science Consortium.

In the photographic competition, Rebecca Morris received the best overall prize for her photo of a hermit crab wearing a plastic bottle cap. She called it Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Aline Sbizera Martinez took out the marine and costal land/seascapes award for her photo called Crowd in the Rock Pool.

We have also been reliably informed that Associate Professor Ross Coleman won the prize for best academic dancing. Although this is still to be officially verified.
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Faculty of Science Prize
PhD candidate, Mang Shi, has won the Faculty of Science Research Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement. This is a nomination based award that recognises Mang’s achievements in studying virus genomes.
PhD candidate, Mang Shi, has won the Faculty of Science Research Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement. This is a nomination based award that recognises Mang’s achievements in studying virus genomes.

He designed, performed and published a study investigating a tick-borne virus which contains genome segments. Mang’s PhD supervisor, Professor Eddie Holmes said “It provides a unique insight into one of the most important questions in viral evolution – the genesis of viruses with segmented genomes.” This award will be presented at the Faculty’s Prize Night on August 6.
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NOTICES
Workshop
Rattan is back and in the Botany Annex workshop; so please bring your jobs to him! Please note that for some processes the ‘Buddy System’ is still required and an extra person will need to be in the workshop while particular machinery is in use.
Work Health Safety
It is now Risk-Assessment-August! They are not as difficult as you might think – so please try at least one this month. Michal Joseph will be running a Risk Assessment workshop with the Honours students. Academics may also want to host a RA-bee for their lab groups. 
It is now Risk-Assessment-August! They are not as difficult as you might think – so please try at least one this month. Michal Joseph will be running a Risk Assessment workshop with the Honours students. Academics may also want to host a RA-bee for their lab groups. Inductions for new Honours students should also be completed.

In other WHS news, Nicky Rollings is the new Fire Warden for the Heydon-Laurence Building. She is responsible for level 4 West and the level 5 mezzanine. A complete list of A08 fire wardens can be found here. For our other building click this link.
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Sydney Student
The Exam Administration module is now available in Sydney Student. All exam results at the end of semester will be managed centrally by the Exams Office. For more information, and a course on how to use this module, click here.
The Exam Administration module is now available in Sydney Student. All exam results at the end of semester will be managed centrally by the Exams Office. For more information, and a course on how to use this module, click here.

Niki Flame will soon be on a twelve month secondment to the Student Administration Services Project. Good luck Niki, we hope you enjoy the challenge.
Institute of Teaching and Learning Survey
The Institute of Teaching and Learning (ITL) Unit of Study Evaluation survey results have been released. Our results were very pleasing with an average of 3.92 ‘overall satisfaction’ for School of Biological Sciences units of study.
The Institute of Teaching and Learning (ITL) Unit of Study Evaluation survey results have been released. Our results were very pleasing with an average of 3.92 ‘overall satisfaction’ for School of Biological Sciences units of study. In particular, Concepts, Cell Biology and Botany all broke the 4.0 mark (although response rates for Botany were low – but the students that did respond loved the course!). Congratulations to all who were involved in first-semester teaching.
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CONTENTS
Introductions
Farewell
Congratulations
Notices
Foyer Displays
Media
Events
Stay connected
FOYER DISPLAYS
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We have had a great response to the displays, with many people stopping and watching the whole cycle of information. But we need to keep it fresh. So don’t be a shy violet – tell me your good news! 
We have had a great response to the displays, with many people stopping and watching the whole cycle of information. But we need to keep it fresh. So don’t be a shy violet – tell me your good news! 

Please continue to send photos, videos and news clippings for use on the foyer displays to cecily.oakley@sydney.edu.au .
MEDIA
The Guardian | Fiona Clissold
Locusts may choose where to invade based on temperature, researchers find 

Deutschlandfunk | Fiona Clissold
Insektenplagen Heuschrecken fressen nach Wetterlage 

Sydney Morning Herald | Robyn Overall
Plants get credit for response to attack

ABC Western Queensland Longreach | Aaron Greenville

ABC 702 Sydney | Peter Banks
Backyard - rats

Northern Territory News | Rick Shine
Toads make the leap into Tanami Desert

Adelaide Advertiser | David Raubenheimer
Hard to stomach true love 

Xinhua newswire | David Raubenheimer
Panda’s bamboo banquets no random passion 

china.org.cn | David Raubenheimer
Panda’s bamboo banquets no random passion 

Herald Sun | David Raubenheimer
Pandas’ diets affect their ability to produce offspring, new research reveals

The Guardian (UK) | David Raubenheimer
Pandas search high and low to get their fill of different bamboos

Examiner | David Raubenheimer
Low-carb Paleo diet and CrossFit catch fire among New York City men

The Hindu | David Raubenheimer
A long trek for a balanced diet

Business Standard | David Raubenheimer
Fussy pandas maintain balanced bamboo diet

Outlook India | David Raubenheimer
Fussy pandas maintain balanced bamboo diet

Radio National | Arianne Cease
Curious link between swarming locusts and agriculture

Illawarra Mercury | Eddie Holmes
Ebola outbreak unlikely but we’re ready: experts

The Guardian | Eddie Holmes
Ebola virus unlikely to reach Australia but authorities prepared if it does

Sydney Morning Herald | Eddie Holmes
Ebola: is Australia prepared?

SBS | Eddie Holmes
What is the risk of the Ebola outbreak to Australia?

Channel 9 | Eddie Holmes
Risk of Ebola in Australia ‘very low’

Examiner (US) | David Raubenheimer
Dr Oz: High protein Paleo-style diet is the key to permanent weight loss

720 ABC Perth | Peter Banks
EVENTS
30 August 2014, 9am-4pm Front Lawns and Main Quadrangle
Open Day
24 September, 6pm-7pm Eastern Avenue Auditorium
Murray lecture: Wildlife Wars
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