The University of Sydney
Biological Sciences
August 2011
Visiting academic
Professor Peter Hepler

Prof Peter Hepler, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, is visiting Robyn Overall's laboratory for the whole month of August. During his visit, Peter is conducting electron microscopy experiments alongside Debbie Barton to reveal how highly dynamic actin filaments are arranged at the rapidly growing tips of pollen tubes.

In August this year, Peter was awarded the Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award by the American Society of Plant Biologists in recognition of his distinguished career in plant cell biology. Since his PhD at the University of Wisconsin, Peter has been behind a long and varied list of discoveries about the plant cytoskeleton. These include discovering cross-bridging between microtubules in the mitotic spindle (which led to a new model of chromosome movement) and the mechanism behind cytoplasmic streaming through actin and myosin working like muscle fibers (giving further insight into subcellular action).

30 years ago, Peter began to investigate the small concentrations of Ca2+ acting as a second messenger but found large supplies in the ER when the cell plate was forming with pectin and Ca2+ after cell division. To investigate this further, he turned to germinating pollen because growth was localized at the tip, and vesicles containing wall precursors were focused there. He soon found that growth occurred in pulses out of phase with the precursor steps, leading to a method to separate the steps in vivo. He and his colleagues recently traced the pulsing action to a release of pectin by exocytosis. He proposed that the periodic release accelerates then decelerates the growth rate of the pollen tube to account for the pulsing action.

During his stay in Sydney, Peter is excited to use the university's microscopy facilities and share ideas with fellow pollen enthusiasts.

Photo of Professor Peter Hepler
Postdoctoral fellows
Dr Matt Greenlees

Matt commenced as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Shine Lab in July after winning an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant. With the five years' funding, Matt will be investigating the biology and impact of cane toads in the southern part of their Australian range. After the discovery this year of a breeding toad population in Sydney, Matt will also be taking advantage of this new and isolated population to field-test emerging new methods for toad control.

Photo of Dr Matt Greenlees
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Basil and Suzan's farewell parties

Basil celebrated his birthday and semi/trial retirement at an intimate morning tea party in his much-loved Macleay tea room on 2 August. See photos on the School's Facebook page

The next day, Suzan and friends celebrated the beginning of her new life in Queensland with lunch at the Grandstand. See photos on the School's Facebook page

View the photo albums on Facebook
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Eureka shortlist: Rick Shine
Professor Rick Shine is shortlisted for the Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research. Professor Shine is one of Australia's foremost researchers in ecology and evolution, and is one of this country's most widely heard science communicators. His websites, media appearances and magazine articles have replaced myths with fact, and transformed the public debate about cane toads.
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2011 Widening Participation Grants

The University has allocated over 800K of funds from the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships (HEPPP) scheme to directly support faculty initiatives to address the Government's and the University's commitment to social inclusion and widening participation in higher education. This funding is available to faculties through a range of new partnership, curriculum and research grants. The grant initiatives are managed as a partnership between the Institute for Teaching and Learning and the Social Inclusion Unit.

There are three categories:

1.Community Engagement Grants for Social Inclusion partnerships ($10-30K)

2.Inclusive Curriculum Renewal Grants ($5-15K)

3.Research on Inclusion/Exclusion ($5-25K)

Full details of the grants, the application process, timeline, selection criteria are available here

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The University is once again in its 2 yearly High Risk OHS audit cycle. The Heydon Laurence Building, Macleay and Museums building have been selected for a high-risk audit. Areas of risk include: Field Work, Chemical Safety, Noise and Outdoor Work. External auditors will interview a range of people form the Head to operational staff. At the end of the process a report with recommendations will be given to the Head of School.
The School has $4077 left in its 2011 monograph allocation. The deadline for the use of this fund is September 30th. Please send your requests for items you'd like to see in the Library collection, including requests for books, reports, individual research papers, audiovisual material (eg DVDs), or standards to your Faculty Liaison Librarian, Crystal at
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Jumpstart your career
Thursday 8 September | 6pm - 8pm
Come along to hear how two biology graduates have transformed their degree into careers making nature documentaries and solving problems for businesses.

At this seminar, Karina Holden, the commissioning editor for science and nature documentaries at the ABC, will describe how you can go from being a biologist to having a career in film and TV. Jess Higgs, who is a senior associate at a management consultancy firm Third Horizon, will offer useful tips on how new graduates can land a job straight out of university in the consultancy sector.

More information and register

Friday seminar
Friday 26 August | 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Rocks, Soils and Breaks: A new method for discovering and identifying biotic breaks. Presented by Dr. Malte C Ebach (Senior Lecturer, School of BEES, UNSW)
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Bush rats reintroduced to Sydney
On 11 August, Peter Banks and colleagues released 100 native bush rats, called Boguls, to bushland around Sydney Harbour. The new Bogul populations will not only reinstate a native species to these areas, but also potentially reduce the populations of pest black rats as the Boguls compete for territory and resources.
Sydney Morning Herald | Peter Banks and Grainne Cleary
Native rats go wild in a return to the city
Australasian Science | Mathew Crowther
Climate change KO's koalas
ABC 702 online | Jim Haseloff
Artificial life research triggers concerns
Thursday 8 September | 6pm
Jumpstart your career
Friday 26 August | 3:30pm
Friday Seminar
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