2014 News archive

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December 2014
Viral 'fossils' study on birds finds fewer infections than in mammals   View Summary
15 December 2014
New bird genome study shows viral infections less common than in mammals. Photo by Ross Coleman.In a contribution to an extraordinary international scientific collaboration the University of Sydney found that genomic 'fossils' of past viral infections are up to thirteen times less common in birds than mammals.
Rapid bird evolution after the age of dinosaurs unprecedented, study confirms   View Summary
12 December 2014
Birds diversified after dinosaur extinction. Image by Jon Fjeldså.The most ambitious genetic study ever undertaken on bird evolution has found that almost all modern birds diversified after the dinosaurs became extinct 66 million years ago.
Climate change challenge for animals reliant on external sources of heat   View Summary
11 December 2014
A warmer climate could upset the balance in ecosystemsAnimals that regulate their body temperature through the external environment may be resilient to some climate change but not keep pace with rapid change, leading to potentially disastrous outcomes for biodiversity.
Surprising new leads uncovered in global obesity epidemic   View Summary
8 December 2014
Dogs, cats and horses are also affected by the obesity epidemicResearchers have uncovered surprising new leads in the worldwide obesity epidemic by examining the combination of our rapidly changing environment with our overwhelming appetite for protein.
November 2014
School of Biological Sciences researchers secure government grants for 2015 and beyond   View Summary
19 November 2014
ARC and NHMRC grant worth more than 5 million dollars have been awarded to our biological scientistsIn the last month, our academics have been awarded grants from the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council totalling $5,354,641.
Seawall ecology to benefit from Dr Paris Goodsell Grant in Aid   View Summary
17 November 2014
Flowerpots on seawalls create important microhabitatsPhD student Rebecca Morris is the 2014 recipient of the Dr Paris Goodsell Grant in Aid. This grant enabled Rebecca to present her research at the Ecological Society of Australia conference this year.
Postgraduate Excellence Prize awarded for rat-impact research   View Summary
13 November 2014
Winner of the 2014 Postgraduate Excellence Prize, Helen SmithHelen Smith has won the 2014 Postgraduate Excellence Prize for her work investigating how natives react to an exotic invader.
Year of honours for talented evolutionary biologist   View Summary
12 November 2014
Simon Ho is the 2014 NSW Young Tall Poppy of the YearThe School of Biological Science's Associate Professor Simon Ho was last night named the NSW Young Tall Poppy of the Year.
October 2014
Educational app to explore plants on campus   View Summary
28 October 2014
A new app to explore your uni - Campus FloraCampus Flora - an exciting new teaching and learning app is now available on iTunes. This app encourages exploration and study of the University's botanical specimens.
Light, photosynthesis, action! New research centre set to secure food for the future   View Summary
24 October 2014
Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis node at Sydney UniversityA research centre exploring new technologies for improving crop yields has been launched today in Canberra. The School of Biological Sciences' Associate Professor Min Chen is Chief Investigator for the Sydney node.
Honey bee specialist receives excellence award   View Summary
22 October 2014
Ben Oldroyd recieves Excellence in Biological Sciences AwardIn a ceremony at NSW Government House, Professor Ben Oldroyd received the 2014 NSW Science & Engineering Award for 'Excellence in Biological Sciences'.
Cane Toads that move in lines most responsible for their deadly spread   View Summary
13 October 2014
Cane toads that move in straighter lines are found at the invasion frontLatest findings from a team led by Professor Rick Shine from the School of Biological Sciences shed light on how those at the frontline of cane toad invasions make more headway than their established counterparts, making them responsible for the species' seemingly unstoppable spread.
September 2014
From sharks to baboons - insights into the wildlife wars   View Summary
23 September 2014
Annual Murray lecture brings International scientists to Sydney UniWhat are the drivers of human-wildlife conflict?Professor Justin O'Riain, a behavioural ecologist, will present the Murray lecture on Wednesday 24 September discussing 'Wildlife Wars'.
Recognition for an evolutionary master clockmaker: 2014 Eureka Prize for Early Career Researcher   View Summary
11 September 2014
 Simon Ho, winner of the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career ResearchAssociate Professor Simon Ho's groundbreaking research on molecular clocks has earned him a 2014 Eureka Prize.
August 2014
Bright lights, big city a great lifestyle for these spiders   View Summary
21 August 2014
Golden orb-weaving spiders grow bigger in the cityCity life does not suit everyone but golden orb-weaving spiders thrive in urban landscapes, a University of Sydney study shows.
Early Career Finalist for Eureka Prize   View Summary
8 August 2014
Eureka prize finalist Associate Professor Simon HoAssociate Professor Simon Ho has been named as a finalist in the prestigious Eureka Prizes.
July 2014
How fussy pandas maintain a balanced bamboo diet   View Summary
22 July 2014
Giant pandas switch between four different bamboo diets to gain key nutrients.Pandas are famously fussy eaters, but new research suggests there is method to their madness, with the animals switching between different species and parts of bamboo plants to maintain a balanced diet and reproduce.
Scientists and community collaborate to secure future of Australia's ecosystems   View Summary
18 July 2014
A plan for ecosystem science in Australia has been launchedThe University of Sydney's School of Biological Sciences has been part of a major collaboration to create Australia's first national strategy to ensure the future of Australia's managed and natural ecosystems.
Improving the diets of captive carnivores   View Summary
17 July 2014
Tasmanian devil foraging in preliminary trials (photo by Alice Le Gal)An exciting collaboration between the University of Sydney and the Taronga Conservation Society will study the eating behaviour of captive dunnarts, quolls and devils.
Interpretative dance coaxes bees into quick decisions on nest sites   View Summary
11 July 2014
Giant honeybee colony on a temple in ThailandDr James Makinson evicts bees from their homes for a good reason—to figure out how they collectively decide on the next place to live. His research on bee communication and consensus-building has been published in this month's issue of Animal Behaviour.
Understanding koalas in all kinds of weather   View Summary
9 July 2014
Koala conservation study wins ARC fundingProposed research into koala conservation has yielded success in the latest round of Australian Research Council Linkage grants.
Locusts harness the sun to get their optimum diet   View Summary
3 July 2014
Locust feedingIf you are a locust, the most nutritious plant to eat depends on the ambient temperature. Scientists at the School of Biological Sciences have discovered that locusts choose their food, and then where they digest it, according to how hot it is.
Small but not so insignificant   View Summary
2 July 2014
Cells infected with aphelidsNeither animal nor plant. Yet not bacterial, archeal or fungal. Aphelids are an important parasitic microbe which has at long last been characterised.
June 2014
Surveillance in the Simpson suggests a new take on threat to native animals   View Summary
30 June 2014
Surveillance cameras in the desertA photographic pursuit that would put the paparazzi to shame has captured the private life of wildlife in the Simpson Desert, during both its 'big wet' and dry seasons.
May 2014
All mother's fault! - exploring why males die younger and are less fertile   View Summary
28 May 2014
Mitochondria - the tiny powerhouses of the cellOne clue to why males die earlier and are less fertile than females across many species, including humans, has been explored by a study led by the University of Sydney.
April 2014
NSW Land clearing law saves native mammals, but more could be done   View Summary
9 April 2014
Eucalyptus forest on the slopes of the Snowy mountains © Global Warming ImagesA new report estimates the New South Wales Native Vegetation Act, which prohibits broad-scale clearing of forests, has saved 265,000 native mammals in just five years.
Dingo defined thanks to scientists' museum search   View Summary
1 April 2014
Drawing from the Voyage of Governor Phillip of the Dog of New South WalesThe dingo has been definitively classified as a distinct Australian animal thanks to new research led by the University of Sydney.
March 2014
Tribute to a plant cell biologist   View Summary
26 March 2014
Associate Professor Jan MarcAssociate Professor Jan Marc passed away last week after a long and brave battle with leukaemia. Jan has been a member of the School since 1992 and was a very popular teacher to countless undergraduate students.
Dingo poisoning found to disrupt ecosystem   View Summary
13 March 2014
Baiting of dingoes is found to unbalance the ecosystemA study published this week by Dr Mathew Crowther and collaborators has found that the systematic poisoning of dingoes - the top predators in the Australian bush - has a deleterious effect on small native mammals.
Community input sought for Ecosystem Science Plan   View Summary
11 March 2014
A desert ecosystemEcosystem Science is key to managing our food and water assets. In order to develop a long term plan for ecosystem research and management 'Town-Hall' meetings are being held around the country. Sydney's turn is on Friday 14th March.
Sydney node for Translational Photosynthesis research   View Summary
6 March 2014
Algae growing in the labRecently funded ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis has Associate Professor Min Chen as Chief Investigator for the Sydney node.
January 2014
Winners at 'Competition in Biology' symposium   View Summary
31 January 2014
Poster prize winners of the 15th EMBL PhD symposiumPhD students Joshua Christie and Isobel Ronai are double-winners. Firstly in receiving a grant to attend the EMBL PhD symposium in Germany and secondly in winning poster prizes whilst there!
Biologists reveal the cause of one of the most devastating pandemics in history   View Summary
28 January 2014
One of the skeletons from which Y. pestis DNA was extractedAn international collaboration of scientists, including from the University of Sydney has solved a historical cold case by revealing that two of the world's most devastating plagues were caused by distinct versions of the same pathogen.
Loner lizards don't light up - the social side of lizards   View Summary
22 January 2014
Veiled chameleons are dull-coloured when reared aloneOne of the first studies conducted on young reptiles reared without contact with their siblings is challenging the assumption that only mammals and birds are shaped by social interactions.
220 marine scientists raise alarm about NSW recreational fishing   View Summary
14 January 2014
Scientists say NSW marine parks are in danger if recreational fishing is allowedMore than 220 marine scientists from across Australia and internationally, including from the University of Sydney, have raised concerns for NSW's marine life if the state government moves to permanently allow recreational fishing in no-take sanctuary zones.
Pots and pot shots to benefit Sydney's marine life   View Summary
6 January 2014
Rebecca Morris with a sea pot"Are you ready for your close-up?", is the question for the starfish and crabs being photographed by submerged cameras on Sydney's foreshore. The images are part of an innovative project by the University of Sydney, to boost marine life on Sydney's foreshore.