Postdoctoral research associate, University of New England

I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Sheffield, UK. My interests evolves around the behaviour of top predators and how we can use this knowledge to improve their conservation.

I am currently working on the adaptive significance of egg shape in a variety of bird species. Natural selection of the bird eggshell is based on opposing goals. The shell must withstand the breaking forces imposed upon it during incubation, but also be sufficiently fragile to allow successful hatching. Furthermore, deviations from the norm in a specific eggshell trait may reflect unusual selection pressures acting on that trait. For example, a perfectly spherical egg is generally considered to be ‘strongest’ shape for an egg, yet pear-shaped eggs are less likely to roll out of the nest or off a cliff ledge (instead they roll in a tight circle). I am exploring in greater detail the tradeoffs of different egg shapes - looking at both the microstructure of the eggshell and overall shape.

I conducted my PhD at the University of New South Wales, Australia. My goal was to better understand the feeding ecology of one of Australia’s largest marsupial carnivores, the thylacine and the factors that drove it to extinction – as there are currently many conflicting interpretations. Dietary specialisation has been shown to strongly influence a species ability to adapt to changing food resources. I used skull biomechanics and stable isotopes to (i) determine whether diet specialisation and competition influenced their extinction, and (ii) explore long-term shifts in marsupial carnivore diet and habitat use to test their resilience to environmental change.

Experience

  • 2013–2016
    Research Assistant (FEARlab), University of New England
  • 2014–2015
    Postdoctoral fellow (FEARlab), University of New England
  • 2014–2014
    Unit Coordinator of Priciples of Zoology (Z00L100), University of New England
  • 2013–2013
    Environmental Surveyor, Greencollar Consulting Solutions
  • 2009–2010
    Course demonstrator (Aninal Behaviour), University of New South Wales
  • 2009–2010
    Research Assistant (Biological Sciences), University of New South Wales
  • 2005–2007
    Research Assistant (Statistics), University of Western Sydney
  • 2007–2007
    Research Assistant (Biological Sciences), University of Western Sydney

Education

  • 2014 
    University of New South Wales, Doctor of Philosophy (Biological Science)
  • 2008 
    Macquarie University, Bachelor of Science (Honours)
  • 2007 
    University of Western Sydney, Bachelor of Science (Advanced Science)

Publications

  • 2016
    Moa diet fits the bill: virtual reconstruction incorporating mummified remains and prediction of biomechanical performance in avian giants, Proceedings of Royal Society B
  • 2014
    Virtual reconstruction and prediction of diet of the Australian mid Cenozoic thylacinid, Nimbacinus dicksoni (Thylacinidae, Marsupialia), PLOS ONE
  • 2013
    Micro-Biomechanics of the Kebara 2 Hyoid and Its Implications for Speech in Neanderthals, PLOS ONE
  • 2011
    Skull biomechanics and implications for feeding behaviour in a large marsupial guild, Journal of Zoology
  • 2010
    Vocal discrimination in mate guarding male Australian sea lions - Familiarity breeds contempt, Ethology

Grants and Contracts

  • 2013
    Travel Grant
    Role:
    Travel Grant (£300) awarded by the British Ecological Society to attend International Association for Ecology Conference
    Funding Source:
    British Ecological Society
  • 2012
    E&ERC Postgraduate Research Start-Up Grant
    Role:
    AU$1,000 awarded for Postgraduate start-up grant
    Funding Source:
    Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, University of New South Wales
  • 2012
    Travel Grant
    Role:
    AU$200 awarded to cover travel to Ecological Society of Australia conference
    Funding Source:
    Ecological Society of Australia
  • 2011
    Postgraduate Research Student Support (PRSS) Scheme
    Role:
    AU$3,300 research grant awarded by University of New South Wales
    Funding Source:
    University of New South Wales
  • 2011
    Travel Grant
    Role:
    Travel grant (AU$1,000) to attend Marine Mammal Conference
    Funding Source:
    Society for Marine Mammalogy
  • 2008
    Golden Key International Honours Society Scholarship
    Role:
    AU$500 research grant towards Honours research project
    Funding Source:
    Golden Key International Honour Society