2011 Media Report


12: The West Australian reports how experts are trying to save Western Australian mammals from extinction, mentioning the use of conditioned taste aversion – a technique pioneered by researcher Jonathan Webb and colleagues – is being used to is being used to arm northern quolls for the impending arrival of toxic cane toads across the Kimberley. See media items in April, May and June 2010 for other stories on conditioned taste aversion in quolls.

27: Research led by Associate Professor Ashley Ward and PhD student James Herbert-Read shows that fish make faster and better decisions when they are in a group and the larger the group, the more accurate the decision. The research was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and featured in the Adelaide Advertiser, ABC Science Online


"Ruthless march of the toxic invader" The spread of cane toads is unstoppable – with toads now established firmly in WA, which was the last remaining toad-free stronghold in Australia’s tropical north, and even hitchhiking into Sydney. In the Australian Geographic article (page 36), Professor Rick Shine discusses the evolution of toads at the invasion front and whether they will be able to penetrate into southern areas like Sydney and Melbourne.

"Exercise boosts cellular metabolism" Research by Associate Professor Frank Seebacher was featured in the February issue of Australasian Science (page 4). The research, published originally in PLoS ONE, shows that the metabolic rate of rats was boosted at cold temperatures, but only if they did half an hour of moderate exercise each day. Sedentary rats did not receive a boost in metabolic rate even at very cold temperatures, which shows that physical activity has a subtle effect on our body’s energy expenditure by opening up a number of cryptic genes that control the rate of cellular metabolism.

4: "Safety in numbers" The Week reported on the research led by Associate Professor Ashley Ward and PhD student James Herbert-Read which showed that fish make faster and better decisions when they are in a group and the larger the group, the more accurate the decision. The research was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Also featured in the Sunday Telegraph ("Fish brainier in numbers") on 6 Feb.

8: An expert warns recent floods in Queensland and Northern NSW will help Cane toads move into new areas. Professor Rick Shine says many would have been carried down by the floodwaters. MIX 92.7 (Mooloolaba) and 2SM (Sydney).

9: Cane toads are inundating Kununurra and the Ord River irrigation area and a new initiative from the University of Sydney proposes to feed reptiles cane toad flavoured food, which induces nausea to discourage them from eating the poisonous pests. Professor Rick Shine says the food is a combination of minced up cane toad and flavoured with lithium chloride. However, Shine says that it is too early to say whether the method of conditioned taste aversion will work long term in the wild. ABC (North West WA, Karatha).

9: "Cane toads jump ship" Professor Rick Shine comments to Launceston Examiner, Newcastle Herald, Maitland Mercury, Townsville Bulletin, Daily Liberal and Barrier Daily Truth about the cane toads that have penetrated into inland Australia by hitching rides on waterways created by recent floods. The AAP Newswire covering the story was released on 8 Feb.

9: "Lizards get sickening survival lesson" West Australian has published an article about work from student Samantha Price-Rees and Prof Rick Shine, which trains blue tongue lizards to avoid eating cane toads by feeding them nausea-inducing cane toad-flavoured baits.

10: Kimberley Echo ("Blue-tongue lizards learn to give cane toads a miss") and Broome Advertiser ("Scientists cut lizards taste for toxic toads") have published an article about work from student Samantha Price-Rees and Prof Rick Shine, which trains blue tongue lizards to avoid eating cane toads by feeding them nausea-inducing cane toad-flavoured baits.

10: Professor Rick Shine is interviewed by ABC (Newcastle) commenting on cane toads in relation to the recent flooding and cyclones. Shine says some of the toads had a very hard time while those ponds that flooded had a lot of dead toads and tadpoles. He says the concern is that the floods will carry toads and their tadpoles into areas that do not currently have infestation.

10: "Warming oceans turn up heat on marine life" Research led by Professor Maria Byrne, published originally in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, has shown that urchin and abalone embryos will be unable to calcify their shells if grown in ocean conditions projected for 2100. The research was featured in Northern Star

17: "Koala quest continues" Myall Coast Nota describe results of Myall Koala and Environment Group’s efforts to conserve the region’s small koala population. Professor Ian Hume is recognised as initiating the group in 1989 when he was studying the koala population in Myall Lakes.

24: Research led by honours student Daniel Florence, together with Dr Jonathon Webb and Dr Mike Letnic, has shown that toads in arid Australia can be controlled by blocking their access to dams through strategic fencing. The research, originally published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was featured in Rural Weekly (Cane toads hope to desert areas), Herald Sun ("Fence dams to stop invasion"), The Age ("Waterhole fences may halt cane toad invasion") and online in the West Australian.

25: PhD student Ruchira Somaweera, is interviewed by ABC (North West WA, Karratha) and comments on exclusion fences to control cane toads. He says some Australian predators, including fresh water crocodiles, are dying as a result of eating cane toads. It is difficult to remove toads from places like Lake Argyle, which have many water sources for the toads to rehydrate themselves.

28: "Toads take toll on Kimberley wildlife" Cane toads are being blamed for the death of at least five freshwater crocodiles in the Kimberley. West Australian (page 13) quotes Professor Rick Shine who reports on Ruchira Somaweera’s PhD research on crocs in Lake Argyle, which has shown that freshwater crocs learn quickly to avoid eating cane toads.


3: "Toxic toads kill crocodiles" published in Kimberley Echo quotes Professor Rick Shine who reports on Ruchira Somaweera’s PhD research. See above, Feb 28.

7: "Rising ocean temperatures will be devastating for sea urchins and abalone" Research led by Professor Maria Byrne, published originally in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which shows that sea urchins and abalone born into near-future ocean conditions will be unable to calcify their shells, has been featured in the Sydney Morning Herald. See Feb 10 for other media on this research

7: Dr Jonathan Webb talks to Channel 10 (Perth and Sydney) about his research teaching quolls to avoid eating cane toads. Stopping the spread of cane toads is impossible, so this is a way of increasing the survival of quolls.

9: Professor Maria Byrne is interviewed on ABC radio (South East NSW, Bega) discussing her research, published in Proc B (see above, March 7), on the impact of global warming on invertebrate development. Bega currently has a healthy abalone industry and Byrne says that disease can be a threat to abalone and that work needs to be done to determine the vulnerability of commercial abalone species.

17: Professor Rick Shine is interviewed by ABC (Sunshine and Cooloola Coasts) speaking about alternative approaches to culling cane toads, including the discovery in 2010 by Honours student Georgia Ward-Fear that cat food can be used to lure toad-eating meat ants to toad infested areas. See Feb 2010 for media coverage on Ward-Fear’s discovery.

23: "Hopes lie in toad-proof fence" Pilbara News features research led by honours student Daniel Florence, together with Dr Jonathon Webb and Dr Mike Letnic, which has shown that toads in arid Australia can be controlled by blocking their access to dams through strategic fencing. See Feb 24 for more media.

24: Postdoctoral Fellow Ligia Lizzatto and PhD student Camila Both are testing whether green tree frogs in the wild are susceptible to the lung worm carried by cane toads. Their research was featured in Broome Advertiser ("Scientists on trek to protect tree frogs") and Kimberley Echo ("Biologists get the jump on frogs").

Research by Professor Rick Shine and Dr Greg Brown, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA on 23 March, reveals a new evolutionary process based on their study of cane toads. Dubbed "spatial sorting", the new evolutionary process explains why the invasion of the cane toad has been accelerating through Australia for the last 70 years. The research was featured in:

  • 24: Professor Shine was interviewed by ABC (Northern Queensland) and appeared on Channel 10’s 7PM project
  • 24: "Bold toads race to speedy date" Courier Mail
  • 25: ABC (Newcastle), interview with Professor Shine
  • 27: "Randy toads quicker" Sunday Times

30: “Sydney Uni researcher wins ecology prize” Central Sydney has featured honours student, Stephanie O’Donnell, winning the Southwood Prize for her paper about teaching endangered northern quolls to avoid eating toxic cane toads (See media items in 2010 April). The Southwood prize is awarded annually for the best paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology by a young author.

31: Professor Steve Simpson is interviewed by ABC radio (Central Australia, Alice Springs) commenting on plagues, their history and plagues of locusts and mice.

31: PhD student Chris Reid is featured on Catalyst (ABC TV) for his research, published in Journal of Experimental Biology, on Argentine ants solving the Towers of Hanoi. Download footage “Ant Algorithms” on Catalyst website. See media items in December 2010 for more media on this work.

Research by Dr Nate Lo, published in Nature Communications on 30 March, shows that termites and ants can improve soil quality in warmer and drier climates - their presence results in elevated water infiltration and nitrogen content, leading to increased wheat yields. The research was featured in:

  • 30: 2SM (Sydney) and 2TM (Tamworth) radio stations
  • 30: "Ants help farmers" Daily Telegraph
  • 31: "Termites a help to crops" Newcastle Herald, "Ants, termites boost wheat yields" Forbes Advocate, "Good pests" Barrier Daily Truth


“Ocean Acidification: a wave of destruction for marine life” Professor Maria Byrne was interviewed in a special feature on ocean acidification published in the April/May edition of G Magazine. She commented on the ability of commercially and ecologically important invertebrates to adapt to future ocean conditions.

5: “Frogs tracked to gauge risk from cane toad parasite” Research by Ligia Pizzato and Camila Both is featured in West Australian. See March 24 for more media.

16: “The roach’s secret” Dr Nate Lo was interviewed by New Scientist, providing expertise on why cockroaches have been so successful at colonising homes around the world.

22: “Australian birds have cocky attitude” PhD student Adrian Davis was quoted in an AFP newswire, commenting on parrots in urban cities and why the populations are increasing.

27: Research by Prof Rick Shine is discussed by Darren Osborne on ABC (Western Plains NSW), with news that male Taiwanese Kukri snakes are afraid of their female counterparts.

29: “Gardens wish bats luck as they wave them goodbye” Dr Kerryn Parry Jones is interviewed by Sydney Morning Herald, discussing the removal of 22,000 flying fox from the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Research by Rick Shine and Greg Brown, published in PNAS in March, describes the new evolutionary process called spatial sorting. See above in March 2011 for more media. The work was featured in:

  • 1: “Cane toads: the battle goes on” The Week
  • 7: Professor Rick Shine is interviewed on Radio National program, Bush Telegraph.
  • 13: Professor Rick Shine is interviewed on ABC 891 (Adelaide), ABC (Darwin), ABC 612 (Brisbane)
  • 17: Professor Rick Shine and Dr Mike Letnic are interviewed on TV - ABC News 24 (Sydney) and ABC1 (Darwin)
  • 18: Professor Rick Shine and Dr Mike Letnic are interviewed on TV - ABC News 24 (Sydney) and ABC1 (Melbourne)

Research by Dr Nate Lo, published in Nature Communications on 30 March, shows that termites and ants can improve soil quality in warmer and drier climates - their presence results in elevated water infiltration and nitrogen content, leading to increased wheat yields. See above in March 2011, for more media. The research was featured in:

  • 1: ABC radio (Mildura), “Small animals offer huge agricultural benefit” Daily Liberal, “Ants and termites increase crop yields” Oil & Gas Review
  • 2: “Termites good for farms” Coffs Coast Advocate, “Termites improving crop yields” Kalgoorlie Miner
  • 4: “Termites, ants good: research” Country News Insert, “Termites positive for farmers” Hunter Valley Town & Country Insert
  • 6: “Ants, termites prove helpful in hot climate” featured in Ballarat Courier.
  • 14: “Ants and termites boost dryland wheat yields” Mallee Ag News
  • 21: “Dryland benefits from ants, termites” Queensland Country Life
  • 29: “Ant impact” Border Times

AAP newswire was issued on 19 April stating that the first breeding ground of cane toads in Sydney has been confirmed in Taren Point. Prof Rick Shine and Dr Matt Greenlees were quoted, saying they will study the population using radio tracking and have already discovered that introduced black rats are predating the cane toads in Sydney. The story was featured in:

  • 19: MX (Sydney), 2UE (Sydney) interviewed Prof Shine
  • 20: “Researchers jump to a conclusion on toads’ breeding lair” featuring Matt Greenlees and Rick Shine in the Sydney Morning Herald, “NSW joins battle of the toads” Northern Territory News, “Cane toad breeding site found” Daily Advertiser, “Bell tolls as Sydney cane toad invasion ratted out and killed” Daily Telegraph, “Tracking cane toad” Illawarra Mercury, “Radio tracker toads helped to locate Sydney colony” Cairns Post, “Breakthrough in war on toad” Boarder Mail, “Sydney hoping to turn back toad tide” Townsville Bulletin
  • 20: Prof Shine was interviewed on ABC (Illawarra, Wollongong), Matt Greenlees was interviewed by 2GB (Sydney)
  • 21: “Toads barely a hop away, but they’re not moving in” Illawarra Mercury, “Pest toads breeding here” St George & Southerland Shire Leader
  • 23: Prof Shine was interviewed by ABC 774 (Melbourne) and ABC 6666 (Canberra)
  • 27: “Waging war on cane toads” Northern Star


3: “Adapting to the cane toad” Professor Rick Shine was quoted in Byron Shire Echo as saying that there was evidence Australia’s wildlife was evolving or learning to cope with the cane toad (quote originally from SMH 22/11/06).

Dr Mathew Crowther has submitted evidence to a Senate enquiry on the future of Australia’s koala population, saying that Gunnedah lost 25% of its koala population in the 2009 heat wave. The senate enquiry, held on 2 May, was featured in:

  • 4: “Provide water to give animals a hand” and “The heat is on”, both Northern Daily Leader
  • 5: “Koalas under threat, Senate enquiry hears” Namoi Valley Independent
  • 23: “Climate, competition put koalas at risk” Northern Daily Leader

Ongoing research by Dr Mathew Crowther has shown that Gunnedah has one of the only growing koala populations in NSW and that planting trees could be a way of improving koala survivorship. Read full Biology story here. The research was featured in:

  • 5: “Planting trees could help save koala” Dubbo Photo News
  • 10: Matthew Crowther is interviewed on ABC (New England North West), ABC 666 Canberra and ABC 702 Sydney
  • 11: “To save koalas” Central magazine
  • 15: Featured on TV - NBN Tamworth and Lismore.

9: Natalie Soars, PhD student with Prof Maria Byrne, has been awarded a scholarship from Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) for her research into the sound produced by sea urchins. Her work was featured in the Sydney Morning Herald (“Rocking urchins provide the sound waves”) and Newcastle Herald (“ Sea urchins to make noise over role in ocean”)

13: “Ants and Termites” Termite research by Dr Nate Lo was featured in Esperance Express. See above for more details

26: “Boguls favoured to win rat race” In an effort to control introduced black rats in Sydney, Associate Professor Peter Banks and Dr Grainne Cleary are reintroducing native bush rats, Boguls, into Mosman in the hope they will establish themselves thereby excluding the non-native rats from the area. The reintroduction is set to commence in July and has been featured in Mosman Daily. Read Biology story here.


PhD student Chris Reid is featured in Australasian Science for his research, published in Journal of Experimental Biology, on Argentine ants solving the Towers of Hanoi. See media items in December 2010 for more media on this work.

In the March issue of Journal of Experimental Biology, Professor Steve Simpson published an article on cat nutrition that is the most extensive study of macronutrient regulation ever conducted on any carnivore. The study shows that when cats are given a choice, they will actively select biologically appropriate food that is most similar to the prey they would hunt and eat if they lived in the wild. The findings were featured in 148 pieces of media globally: 131 online articles, 13 print, 2 newswires and 2 radio pieces.

Professor Rick Shine and Dr Greg Brown’s paper “An evolutionary process that assembles phenotypes through space rather than through time”, published in PNAS, has been listed as one of the best peer reviewed papers by Australian Life Scientist. See above in March 2011 for more media coverage of this paper.

4: “Stealthy killer stalks henhouses of the eastern suburbs” Dr Mathew Crowther is interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald to comment on the urban fox attack that killed five chickens in a property in Sydney’s Bellevue Hill. Dr Crowther said that foxes are "everywhere" in Sydney, including the inner city, but it is impossible to put a number on the populations.

5: Dr Nate Lo is interviewed on ABC 702, talking about being an insect geneticist. Dr Lo discusses his work on caste determination on termites, saying they have found evidence that there might be a special gene that turns a baby into a queen or worker rather than an environmental trigger.

7: Panel discussion on ABC’s Radio National featuring Professor Rick Shine, and Mark Lewis, Director of the new documentary Cane Toads, the Conquest, discussing the ultimate invasive pest in Australia, cane toads, and what can be done to stop their proliferation.

9: Dr Tanya Latty, Postdoctoral Researcher, published a study in the journal of the Royal Society Interface about the ability of ants to connect multiple sites in the shortest possible way. Latty discusses her research, on Radio National’s Future Tense program, as potentially useful for creating more efficient transport and online networks.

9: “Close encounters in lab teach crocs to avoid toads” Work by PhD student Ruchira Somaweera has been featured in Kimberly Echo. His study, published in Behaviour, details that hatchling freshwater crocodiles can learn to avoid eating toxic cane toads after an initial encounter.

23: Professor Chris Dickman’s research was featured on ABC TV’s Catalyst. In the segment, Prof Dickman describes his 21-year ecological study of the Simpson Desert and what that research has uncovered about the area. Watch Catalyst footage here

24: “Bee buzz at meeting” South Burnett Times reported that Professor Ben Oldroyd was guest speaker at the 10th Annual Queensland Beekeepers Association, held in Kingaroy from June 30 – July 1.


1: "Long-Dead Cane Toads Continue to Haunt Australian Wildlife” Research by Professor Rick Shine and Dr Greg Brown was featured in an online article in ScienceNOW. Their research, published in Biological Invasions, demonstrates that the many cane toad carcasses lying on roads can still poison native wildlife, as the toad bufo toxin remains viable well after death and even following extreme heating.

Significant media attention has surrounded the death of a horse in Wollongbar from Hendra Virus, which is transmitted from bats. Bat expert, Dr Kerryn Parry-Jones, was interviewed by numerous media outlets explaining the biology of bats in relation to Hendra Virus.

  • 4: Dr Parry-Jones was interviewed by ABC (North Coast, Lismore), saying that research has found bats that are nutritionally or reproductively stressed are more likely to carry the disease. She says it's a minor disease for flying foxes. Parry Jones discusses how the flying foxes are stressed by human interventions, including cutting down their forage trees. She says horse owners need to take responsibility for their animals, and ensure horses are not foraging under trees with bats. She explains scientists are unsure how the disease jumps from flying foxes to horses.
  • 7: Radio National (Canberra) interviewed Dr Parry-Jones who explains that it is not known why Hendra is restricted to such a small area. Parry-Jones discusses flying foxes' feeding habits and the virus's effect on them. She says the virus seems to be transmitted by droppings.
  • 7: “Don’t stress the bats” Northern Rivers Echo
  • 12: “High alert for Hendra” Macarthur Chronicle
  • 15: An AAP Newswire reports that trees are being trimmed at NSW racecourses in a bid to stem the spread of the deadly Hendra virus, which is thought to be transmitted from bats to horses. Dr Kerryn Pary-Jones, who has been studying flying foxes for over 20 years, disputes the link between Hendra Virus and the death of horses, saying that the method of transmission is not completely known.
  • 16: Media following AAP newswire: “Fending off Hendra virus” Burnie Advocate,“Racetrack virus check” Newcastle Herald, “Virus threat to NSW tracks” Weekend West, “Trees trimmed to curb Hendra” Illawarra Mercury
  • 18: Politicians are calling for bats to be moved or culled and Dr Parry-Jones is interviewed on ABC radio (Central Australia, Alice Springs), (Darwin), (936 Hobart), (Ballarat) and Radio National (Canberra) opposing the culling, saying that that, even if populations are moved or culled, new populations will re-migrate or return if there's food available.
  • 19: “Call to cull bat colonies after Hendra outbreak” The Australian
  • 19: Dr Parry-Jones’ research, which indicates flying fox numbers are dwindling, is mentioned on 3CR radio (Melbourne)
  • 19: Dr Parry-Jones is interviewed by 4BC radio (Brisbane), ABC (Ballarat) and ABC (Illawarrra, Wollongong)
  • 21: “Hendra virus spreads” North Queensland Register, “…as calls grow for bat cull” The Land
  • 21: Dr Parry-Jones is interviewd on ABC (Coffs Coast) saying bat-related problems have become relatively common as flying foxes have moved into urban areas. She says flying foxes are important animals for keeping biodiversity of forests as they transfer pollen and fruit long distance. She says culling flying foxes due to them carrying the Hendra virus would not be effective and the thing to control is the spill over into horses.

Queen bees from the West Australian bee-breeding program are being used in a research trial in the United States, coordinated by Professor Ben Oldroyd, seeking to test the tolerance of honey bees to the Varroa mite. The work was featured in:

  • 22: "Apiarist leads fight against bee disease" Weekend Courier, Rockingham
  • 25: "WA bees aiming to take sting out of Varroa mite" Kalgoorlie Miner
  • 29: "WA bees in Varroa tolerance research" Esperance Express


“Climate chane KO’s koalas” Dr Mathew Crowther was quoted in the August issue of Australasian Science on the health of koala populations. While a senate inquiry showed that koala populations around the country are crashing, Dr Crowther’s research in Gunnedah indicated that tree planting can increase koala numbers. See above in May 2011 for more media coverage of this research.

3: Dr Mathew Crowther was interviewed on ABC 720 (Perth) about rats and whether they are friend or foe. Crowther understands people are wary of rats, often viewing them as diseased, but explains that rats are used for medical purposes, kept as pets and have high intelligence and problem solving skills. He concedes they do carry diseases and reproduce rapidly.

10: Dr Mathew Crowther is interviewed on ABC News 24 speaking about the state of koala populations in NSW and his research relating to the matter. He says habitat loss and habitat fragmentation is contributing to the decline in population and explains that koalas need up to 30 trees. He says koala numbers have been increasing in an area of the Liverpool Plains, where he has been participating in research with Liverpool Plains Land Management and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. He says the increase appears to relate to a tree-planting program in the area.

Associate Professor Peter Banks is leading a conservation project, which aims to reintroduce native Bogul rats into Sydney Harbour as a way of reducing populations of introduced black rats. On August 11, his team released 100 Boguls into bush on Sydney’s north shore. The release generated significant media interest around Australia in print, radio and TV, published/aired on 11 August.

23: An application to disperse flying foxes near the Maclean High School has been approved, but there is concern about it from Dr Kerryn Parry-Jones, who says it could lead to increased incidence of Hendra virus.


1: Dr Jenny Saleeba is interviewed by Cosmos Magazine for a supplement about Postgraduate study options. Speaking in her role as Associate Dean of Postgraduate Coursework in the Faculty of Science, she outlines the reasons why people choose to do postgraduate coursework degrees: they are not convinced they want or need to do research, coursework is a good way to upgrade skills for a future job, it is a good option for people to retrain in preparation for a career change.

Michael Crossland and Rick Shine have found that a chemical emitted by cane toad tadpoles can act as a mode of toad control. When cane toad eggs are exposed to the chemical, survivorship and growth of hatchlings is greatly reduced.

  • 1: “Toad control” Sydney Morning Herald; “Toad tadpoles take out competition” Daily Telegraph.
  • 2: Channel 10 TV

8: “Eureka Winners” Sydney Morning Herald published an article highlighting the winners of the 2011 Eureka Prizes competition, announced at an awards dinner on 6 September. Professor Rick Shine took out the award for Promoting Public Understanding of Australian Research.

26: Research by Dr Mark Browne has found that synthetic clothing could be damaging the marine environment. The research has found that a single garment cleaned in a domestic washing machine could produce thousands of fibres per wash. His global study of microplastic contamination on beaches shows that washing synthetic clothing was responsible for the majority of plastic debris, which poses a health threat to marine organisms. This research appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald “Plastic fibres and increasing threat to marine environment, study shows”; 2CSFM (Coffs Harbour); ABC1 TV (Melbourne) with Associate Professor Ross Coleman interviewed.


1: "Eating greens alters genes" Professor Peter Waterhouse is quoted in New Scientist saying that there is potential to engineer medicinal plants. This quote was part of an article exploring the possibility that the plants we eat can modify our gene expression.

6: “Cane Toad Muster” Dr Matt Greenlees was mentioned in an article in the Daily News and Tweed Sun as he attended a community toad muster in Knox Park to speak about the threats of cane toads on the environment.

8: “Universities Eureka Moment” Professor Rick Shine’s Eureka Prize for Promoting Public Understanding of Australian Research was mentioned in the Sydney Morning Herald.

13: “Out of the lab, into the spotlight” Associate Professor Min Chen won the Science Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for her discovery of the first new chlorophyll in over 60 years. See media items relating to this discovery in August 2010. Her prize was announced on 12 October at an event in Canberra and featured in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Research by Dr Alison Gosby and Professor Steve Simpson has shown that including enough protein in our diets, rather than simply cutting calories, is the key to curbing appetites and preventing excessive consumption of fats and carbohydrates. The study, published in PLoS ONE, reveals that people on a 10 percent protein diet will eat more snacks between meals and consume significantly more calories in total compared with people on a 15 percent protein diet. Media flowing from theses findings include:

  • 14: “Chew protein not the fat” MX (Sydney)
  • 16: “Slim down on protein” Sunday Times
  • 17: Interviews on Radio National and ABC 666 Canberra
  • 18: “The skinny on fat” Herald Sun
  • 23: “Protein cuts our appetite” Sunday Mail Brisbane; “Eat protein to shed fat” Sunday Telegraph

31: Cane toad researchers say commercial fishery managers across Northern Australia need to protect their stocks from the pest. PhD student Ruchira Somaweera says the recent study shows cane toad eggs are fatal for most Australian Fish. He says during the wet season, fishery owners need to physically clear water ponds of toad eggs. Ruchira was interviewed on ABC North Queensland (Townsville), ABC Tropical North (Mackay), ABC Capricornia (Rockhampton), ABC North West WA, ABC Western Queensland.


1: “Prizes awarded to Australia’s top scientists for new discoveries” The Oil & Gas Review featured Associate Professor Min Chen’s prize of Life Scientist of the Year, presented by Kim Carr in October as part of the Prime Ministers prizes for scientists.

1: Professor Rick Shine appeared on the Channel 10 TV program, The Project, commenting on the cane toad that was found recently in Perth.

2: “Weight loss secret” Research by Dr Alison Gosby and Professor Steve Simpson, published in PLoS ONE, is featured in Central. See above in October 2011 for more media coverage of this research.

3: Professor Ben Oldroyd has been interviewed on ABC North and West SA (Port Pirie) to speak about antibiotics being given to bees to help prevent Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). He says that antibiotics have been found to increase the toxicity of pesticides to bees and that one of the newly identified possible reasons for CCD could be a gut parasite that has jumped from the Asian bee to the honey bee.

Research by Dr Simon Ho, published in Nature, has shown that both climate change and humans led to the extinction of mammals from the Late Quaternary period. A multidisciplinary research team collaborated on this study, which took years to complete and is the largest of its kind. Read Biology’s news story.

A study by James Herbert-Read and Associate Professor Ashley Ward, published in PNAS, as demonstrated the rules by which individual fish interact with each other. With researchers at the mathematics institute in Uppsala, the team have shown that mosquito fish try to catch up with other fish in front of them, but they slow down when they get too close. Much in the same way as car drivers on an open highway try to keep a fixed distance from each other. Fish also turn their bodies to move towards their neighbours and appear to react primarily to only their nearest neighbour. Through these simple rules, shoals of mosquito fish move in a co-ordinated fashion. Read Biology’s news story

17: “Scientists plotting to scare toads to death” Townsville Bulletin has reported on research by Professor Rick Shine’s Team Bufo, which is close to producing chemicals, based on the toads naturally occurring alarm pheromone, that cause toad tadpoles to die or stunts their growth.

17: “Crawly creatures lift crop yield” Queensland Country Life has reported on research by CSIRO and Dr Nate Lo on the impact of termites in improving crop yield. See above in March 2011, for more media

18: "New chlorophyll could hold the key to more efficient solar panelsMin Chen has written an article in The Conversation about photosynthesis and her recent discovery of the new chlorophyll, ch f.

24: Cosmos has reported the success of Professor Rick Shine, Biological Sciences, in the Plant and Animal Research category of the NSW Science and Engineering Awards.

26: Research by James-Herbert Read has been featured on radio show 2UE. Ian Connellan, Editor at Australian Geographic magazine, was interviewed on the show to discuss the research, published in PNAS, which is examining how fish manage to move in schools.

27:Cannibal KingdomSydney Morning Herald has featured work by Professor Rick Shine, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, that shows cane toads engage in cannibalism. According to his research, toads will preferentially feed on conspecific eggs and young toads will even lure smaller conspecifics to be prey.


7: A Sydney resident finds a giant cane toad in her backyard. Professor Rick Shine identifies it as a large female that most likely hitched a ride on a truck carrying building supplies from Queensland.

  • Radio: 2GB (Sydney), ABC 702 (Sydney), 4BC (Sydney), 2SM (Sydney)
  • "Large female toad feels at home in the birdbath" Rouse Hill Times
  • "Evil visitor carries the mark of cane" Daily Telegraph

8: "Cane toad hunt" Border Tweed Mail reports on Dr Matthew Greenlees’s involvement in organising a cane toad muster in Pottsville, NSW.

10: "Winner – Rick Shine: Toad versus Toad" Weekend Australian reports on work by Professor Rick Shine and Dr Michael Crossland confirming field observations that cane toad tadpoles release toxins which kill or stunt the growth of cane toad eggs. The piece features Prof Shine as the winner of the Environment category of The Australian’s Innovation Challenge awards. See above more media on this research in September.

16: "Flavoured baits help train wildlife to avoid toads" The West Australian has reported on work by Professor Rick Shine which used nauseating cane toad flavoured baits to deter native quolls and lizards from eating the toxic toads. See previous media coverage on this in February.

24: "You may scoff…" New Scientist reports on staying slim in the festive season. The article features work by Dr Alison Gosby on high-protein diets leading to reduced calorie intake.

28: "Park Life" Take 5 magazine publishes a story on Centennial Park. Dr Kerryn Parry-Jones is quoted commenting on the flying fox colonisation of the parklands.