Newsletter

2001: April - May


From the Head

Just a short piece from me this month, to say "thank you" and "congratulations" to a number of people.

Firstly, to Margaret Gilchrist and Ralph Maddox for their exemplary handling of a chemical "incident" which, I hasten to point out, was not of their own making. It was due to mis-labelling of a bottle by person or persons unknown. They did everything by the book, thus preventing potential injury and damage - as Leanne Mumford (Risk Management Office) noted in an informal report on the incident : "Finally, I'd just like to reiterate what I said on Friday: Margaret and Ralph, I believe you acted responsibly and prudently from the moment you realised there was a problem. Prompt action was warranted and taken, and the incident ended with the best possible outcome - no injuries and no damage to speak of." This does raise a question for all of us - "would I have done as well?" If you think the answer might be "no", then you should do further safety training as soon as possible. Mike Joseph can advise on what is available. He is also working on improving the standards of labelling and chemical safety in general, to minimize the chances of future accidents.

I'd also like to congratulate Sharon Downes and Alistair Simpson, who will share the Jabez-King-Heydon Prize for the best PhD thesis in Biology for 2000. Both had wonderful examiners' reports, which in both cases congratulated them on their excellent publications as well as on the quality of the theses themselves. I wish them both well in their future careers.

Vicki Cole (President of BiolSoc) recently received the Helen Beh Award for Citizenship in the Faculty of Science - well done Vicki!

Finally, I'd like to thank Ben Oldroyd, Don Napper, and Facilities Management for the fact that part, at least, of the roof of the Macleay Building is no longer leaking, after years of incontinince. And in Heydon-Laurence the roof plumbers are ready to start work once the weather is dry enough - thanks to an unremitting spate of emailing by Lars Jermiin, ably backed up by Mark Ahern. If the job goes well it will solve a number of problems there.


Head of School's Report

Staffing

Research
Dr David Collings took up duties as ARC Research Associate (Overall) on 26 March (till 26 September 2001).

Mr Karl Hassan and Ms Siska Sumual took up duties as Research Assistants (ARC and NH&MRC-Skurray, respectively) on 30 April 2001 (to 29 April 2002 in the first instance).


Grants received

NH&MRC equipment grant 2000-2001: Armour, C.L, Ammit, A.J. & Armati,P.J.
$8,500 - Luminometer (to be housed in Pharmacy A15).

Honorary Appointments

Honorary Associates
Dr Gregory Edgecombe (nominated by Professor Shine)
Dr Daniel Faith (nominated by Professor Shine)
Professor William Rudman (nominated by Professor Shine)

Prizes

Jabez King Heydon Memorial Prize, 2000
This prize has been awarded jointly to Sharon Downes and Alastair Simpson.


Opening of Heydon Laurence Building

The long awaited opening of the Heydon Laurence Building and associated renovations will be held on Thursday July the 19th. The celebrations will be held in two parts, with a formal opening for invited guests occuring in the afternoon and an informal social function for all members of the School to be held afterwards. Please note this date in your diary as we would love to see everyone at the opening.


Award for Fungal Biology on the Web

To indicate the strength of the teaching developments using computers, Peter McGee has had the web page "Introduction to Fungal Biology" shortlisted for an award in The Australian/Australian Publishers Association awards for excellence in educational publishing. The web page was entered in the category Tertiary Websites. A final decision will be made mid June. The web page was constructed using expertise of Angus Denton (formerly NeTTL) and staff of TDU. The site can be found at the following URL http://bugs.bio.usyd.edu.au/Mycology/default.htm, (please take a look it is well worth the visit - you might even learn something new!! - Ed)


Publications

Book Chapters

  • Rouse, G. (2000). Morphology and Physiology. Polychaetes & Allies. The Southern Synthesis. Beesley, P.L., Ross, G.B.J. & Glasby, C.J. CSIRO. Collingwood, Vic.9-32
  • Rouse, G. (2000). Classification of the Annelida and Polychaeta. Polychaetes & Allies. The Southern Synthesis-Beesley, P.L., Ross, G.B.J. & Glasby, C.J. CSIRO. Collingwood, Vic. 51-53
  • Rouse, G. (2000). Family Sabellidae. Polychaetes & Allies. The Southern Synthesis-Beesley, P.L., Ross, G.B.J. & Glasby, C.J. CSIRO. Collingwood, Vic. 180-184
  • Rouse, G. (2000). Family Serpulidae. Polychaetes & Allies. The Southern Synthesis-Beesley, P.L., Ross, G.B.J. & Glasby, C.J. CSIRO. Collingwood, Vic. 184-189

Journals

  • Drumond, P.M., Oldroyd, B.P. & K. Osborne. (2000). Worker reproduction in Austroplebeia australis Friese (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponini). Insectes Soc. 47:333-336
  • G. J. Guillemin, D. G. Smith, S. J. Kerr, G. A. Smythe, V. Kapoor, P. J. Armati, and B. J. Brew (2000). Characterisation of kynurenine pathway metabolism in human astrocytes and implications in neuropathogenesis. Redox.Report. 5(2-3):108-111
  • Letnic, M. (2000). The politics of science and conservation: why not anonymous publication? Biodivers. Cons. 9:707-709
  • Mitakakis, T.Z. & P.A. McGee. (2000). Reliability of measures of spores of Alternaria and pollen concentrations in air over two towns in rural Australia. Grana. 39:141-145
  • Morrow, J., Scott, L., Congdon, B., Yeates, D., Frommer, M., & J. Sved. (2000). Close genetic similarity between two sympatric species of tephritid fruit fly reproductively isolated by mating time. Evolution. 54:899-910
  • Murphy, C.R., Hosie, M.J. & M.B. Thompson. (2000). The plasma membrane transformation facilitates pregnancy in both reptiles and mammals. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A. 127:433-439
  • Rouse, G. W. & K. Pitt. (2000). Ultrastructure of the sperm of Catostylus mosaicus and Phyllorhiza punctata (Scyphozoa, Cnidaria): Implications for the inference of reproductive mechanisms and sperm terminology. Inv. Rep. Dev. 38:23-34
  • Speake, B.K. & M.B. Thompson. (2000). Lipids of the eggs and neonates of oviparous and viviparous lizards. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A. 127:453-467
  • Thompson, M.B., Stewart, J.R. & B.K. Speake. (2000). Comparison of nutrient transport across the placenta of lizards differing in placental complexity. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A. 127:469-479
  • Dedov, VN, Mandadi, S, Armati, PJ & A Verkhratsky. (2001). Capsaicin-induced depolarisation of mitochondria in dorsal root ganglion neurons is enhanced by vanilloid receptors. Neurosci. 103:219-226
  • Halling, L.A., Oldroyd, B.P., Wattanachaiyingcharoen, W., Barron, A.B., Nanork, P. & S. Wongsiri. (2001). Worker policing in the bee Apis florea. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 49:509-513
  • Holdaway-Clarke, T.L., Walker, N.A., Reid, R.J., Hepler, P.K. & R.L. Overall. (2001). Cytoplasmic acidification with butyric acid does not alter the ionic conductivity of plasmodesmata. Protoplasma. 215:184-190
  • Palmer, JH, Harper, JDI & J Marc. (2001). Control of brittleness in butyl-methylmethacrylate resin embedding mixtures to facilitate their use in immunofluorescence microscopy. Cytobios. 104:145-156
  • Parry-Jones, KA & ML Augee. (2001). Factors affecting the occupation of a colony site in Sydney, New South Wales by the Grey-headed Flying-fox Pteropus poliocephalus (Pteropodidae). Austral Ecology. 26:47-55
  • Littlejohn TG & JA Saleeba. (2001). Becoming a bioinformatics expert. Today's Life Science. 13:28-30

Historic Displays Outside Robert Brown

I unearthed some 1960's excursion photos & would love some assistance in identifying the characters in them! I believe Roger Caroline is in many. (I've put a sheet of paper on the desk in the foyer with space for descriptions of people.) Also if anyone is fluent in German ( I think) scientific nomenclature I have a massive set of A0 size 1890 scientific drawings that are all in German. Need help identifying the titles, etc. After running the idea past Michael & Bill, I'm currently rotating the stuff in these cabinets upstairs, about every month the contents are changed. I'm using old photos & the german diagrams at the moment, but envisaged also "rotating in" such things as personal Photo exhibits from staff (field trips, departmental BBQ's, research images (EM, etc)). Basically anything that isn't a standard poster (whch are everywhere else in the building!) & will grab attention.

If anyone would like to display something they can come & harrass me at Tea on Monday or Friday in A12.

Thanks

Mark Dickson


Tales from the Frozen North

Walpurgis Night - welcome to Spring in Lund

Valborgsmässoafton, the last day of April and a mixture of pagan and Christian festivities, turned out to be quite an event. It is also the King of Sweden's birthday, so all the city buses carried flags as did every flagpole in the town, and the local cakeshops baked special cakes for everyone to celebrate with. During the day we attended a Spring ceremony at the Students' Union, where the student brass band played lightheartedly, the student male voice choir sang student songs, and the Vice President of
the Students' Union made a brief speech of welcome to the Spring. Then the cathedral bells rang out and everyone in the crowd who had one cheerfully put on their white summer student cap (nowadays worn only for this occasion and on the last day of High School, it seems). The young people of Lund apparently spent all afternoon in the Town Park, drinking and eating takeaways, but by the time we got there for the city's official 'Welcome-to Spring' festivities the young had disappeared to the nearby pop-concert and fairground. The festivities were attended by a large, happy but subdued crowd, who listened with attention to the University Academic Choir singing Swedish Spring songs (excellently), and to a speech by a well-known author
about Walpurgis Night and the importance of Spring and Fire (two of the main ingredients of it). I gleaned that it is named after an English nun who was sent to evangelize the Germans, and was made a saint. Why her day is particularly chosen for this celebration is not clear to me (after all, fair go, everything was in Swedish). Fire certainly is a big part of it as the finale of the evening was the lighting of a spectacular bonfire. Everyone watched it with happiness evident on their faces. We can
understand why everyone here is happy to welcome Spring, although its weather would be warmer if the criterion were our taste. Finally we and our friends from 'the Castle' went home for a Spring party of our own. More singing by everyone - and to our consternation we discovered that neither of us could remember ALL the words to 'Waltzing Matilda'. After all this, it was a good thing that the next day, May Day, was yet another public holiday. The Swedes seem to be as addicted to public holidays as Australians are.

A visit to Star Street

Housing developments based on Joern Utzon's designs have been built in a number of places in his native Denmark, and in Sweden. At dinner with our architect friends in 'the Castle' we found out that there is one just a kilometre away, so we got on our bikes and went there. The development dates from 1957, and in keeping with the spirit of that time the streets were given astronomical names. It is uncompromisingly 'modern' of course, and looks very plain to our post-post-modern eyes. However, the influence of the talented architect really shows. The houses are single storey terraces arranged along roads that have little traffic. Each has few windows on the road side, but all the rooms face the house's own private courtyard, which in turn backs on to a shared green space. Everything is on one level, suitable for wheelchairs/perambulators. We were already impressed, and had shot some photos, from the outside. One of the inhabitants was tinkering with his Volvo, and we asked him how it was to
live in a house by the architect of the Sydney Opera House. He invited us in - can you imagine the corresponding situation in Sydney? He and his wife had bought the house in the original development in 1958, had brought up their children in it - finding it too small - and now in retirement are finding it just right. It was certainly a radically different house from any we've visited in Sweden - no vestige of Carl Larsson here. The owners have a sheaf of cuttings about the Opera House, and remain fast fans of
Joern Utzon.

Three Botanists

"Linnaeus deserted Lund for the University of Uppsala, but he became a famous botanist just the same" as the guide book asserts. Linnaeus spent his first year of university at Lund. The guidebook also says that when the University authorities wanted his statue in the University square, the students protested so much at this honour being given to a professor from Uppsala Uni that it had to go in a side square. It is a tradition to put flowers in his hands, but at Easter when our photo was taken with him it
was too cold for that.

Best wishes to you all, yours

Bill


SOBscript

From Emily Mathey; On Sunday 22nd of April "guddling" launched their debut EP "Don't Clean Angry" at the Bat and Ball Hotel in Surry Hills. The opening track "Holiday Reading" has already had its 7 minutes 52 seconds of fame having been played on JJJ twice, first on theOz Music Show and then on Richard Kingsmill's 2001. We are still owed a further 7 minutes 8 seconds, so keep an ear out. Samples of the EP can be heard at http://www.guddling.com.au.

Alex Bannigan, a PhD student in Plant Cell Biology, has been awarded a special travel grant ($US1,200)by the American Society of Plant Physiologists to present her work on microtubules at their meeting at Rhode Island in July this year. Congratulations Alex!

Sandra Lloyd - Was at the Faculty of Architecture's Graduate Awards Ceremony last night (May 17) in MacLaurin Hall to receive a certificate for being on the Deans Honours List for the Master of Design Science in Digital Media and also was one of 4 chosen to receive an Architectural & Design Science Prize for academic excellence. Sandra has finally graduated with her Masters after a gruelling five years of study whilst working full time. Photos from the evening will be posted on the web at the following URL http://www.arch.usyd.edu.au/nwfa/whats_on/activities.html

In March this year two series of wildlife postcards and greeting cards featuring the photography of Pavel German and
designed and produced by Liz Tasker (Dickman Lab) were awarded gold and bronze awards at the 18th National Print
Awards held in Melbourne. The category was open to any greeting cards or postcards printed anywhere in Australia in 2000
(not just nature) so there was quite a lot of competition, and it was very nice to win. The postcards will also be entered in
International Print Awards in the USA as part of the first prize. (The cards sell on campus in the Holme & Wentworth
newsagencies, amongst other places). Australian Geographic recently bought some of the greeting card range for their
stores nationwide! The cards can be viewed on the website http://www.australiannature.com (also designed and
constructed by Liz).

Thanks to all who attended Australia's largest morning tea, recently held in the Macleay Museum. The great SOBS bake off helped to raise more than $500 for cancer research. The bake off was won by Marg Gilchrist with Debbie Shearman and and George Barrett neck and neck in second place. For the culinary adept among us the recipes for the cakes entered in the bake off can be found on the School's recipe page at this link.

Shauna Murray sent this delighfully concise account of the goings on in Protsville-

Alastair briefly returned from his postdoc in Halifax, Canada to pick up his PhD and to get married to Gina.
Wonje has submitted his PhD and took the lab out to a riotous night at a Korean restaurant to celebrate.
Brett is emigrating to the U.S. !
We now have Teena working with us.
We haven't had any more floods!!!!