The University of Sydney
Biological Sciences

Banks Lab

Associate Professor Peter Banks
Peter is a conservation biologist who leads a team of scientists working on various projects, including the dynamics and impacts of invasive species, chemical signal exploitation in predator prey interactions and the interface between wild and urban Australian mammals. Peter completed Honours and PhD at the University of Sydney and has worked for a decade in the School Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences at UNSW. In early 2011 Peter's team moved to the University of Sydney and they are now situated in the School cottage on Science Road and in the laboratory space 203 in A08.
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Dr. Grainne Cleary, Research Associate
The return of the native: reintroductions, reinvasions, and a new paradigm in restoration ecology
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Jenna Bytheway, Research Assistant
Predation ecology projects, in particular manipulating prey cues to detect chemical signal exploitation.
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Catherine Price, PhD Student
Novel approaches to improving the success of reintroductions.
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Caragh Threlfall, PhD Student
Insectivorous bat diversity in urban landscapes: possible mechanisms influencing persistence.
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Alex Carthey, PhD Student
The role of prey naivete in vulnerability to alien predators.
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Helen Smith, new PhD Student
The response of multiple taxa to black rat eradication.
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Viyanna Leo, new PhD Student
Social structure of hyena populations in Africa.
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Wendy Gleen, Masters Student
Use of edge habitats by Rattus fuscipes.
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Malith Weerakoon, Masters Student
Detecting rodent movements across an urban/bushland interface using Rhodamine B.
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Nicole Hansen, Masters Student
Social responses of black rats to localised pest control.
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Dr Mathieu Lithoreau
Mathieu is a new Postdoctoral Research Associate, working for three years in Steve Simpson's lab (ARC Grant). He is a behavioural ecologist with particular interest in social evolution in insects and other arthropods. Mathieu did his PhD thesis on the social biology of cockroaches in France (University of Rennes), followed by a postdoc in the UK (Queen Mary College, London) to study spatial cognition of bumblebees.

His current projects in Steve's group will focus on the ecological factors (predation, climatic conditions, information transfer) that push animals to behave collectively and eventually live in groups for extended periods. As study models, he plans to use locusts, cockroaches and any other socially behaving animal that he can find.

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Dr Tom Lindstrom

Tom holds a two-year postdoctoral position in Rick Shine's group, where he primarily will be analyzing data of telemetered cane toads in order to understand their movement behaviour and how it has changed since their introduction. He will focus largely on Bayesian modelling, implemented with Markov Chain Monte Carlo techniques.

Tom's previous research involves quite variable topics with spread of organisms as a reoccurring theme, including theoretical considerations of the interplay between landscape characteristics and dispersal and applied studies of disease spread in the livestock industry. He graduated as a PhD in theoretical biology in May 2010 at Linkoping University in Sweden and since then has been working as a postdoc at the same institution, largely modelling fluctuations and synchrony in oak tree growth.

Tom is passionate about music and back in Sweden he plays guitar and other instruments in a band called Kokong (Swedish for "cocoon", which also reveals his soft spot for insects).

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Professional Staff

Niki Flame - Manager, School Administration
Niki has taken up this new position in the School to provide strategic advice to the Head and oversee all administrative functions. She brings new insights to the School, particularly in the area of student services where she has experience in the Faculties of Architecture and Law. She is working hard becoming familiar with our operations and people and has already made great progress in forming a cohesive new admin team. After schooling at Fort St High, Niki completed a degree in Finance and Business at UTS.
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Chris O'Neil - Student Services Assistant
In this newly formed position, Chris is the first point of contact for all students in Biological Sciences. Chris holds a Bachelor of Arts from Macquarie University and a Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary Education) from UTS and is studying for his Master of Arts part time at the University of Sydney. Prior to working at Sydney, Chris was employed as an Academic Officer for Curtin University. In his spare time Chris likes snowboarding.
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Matthew Day - Resources Officer

In this new role, Matt's duties include management of building projects, management and maintenance of School pool vehicles, coordination of equipment maintenance and repairs, maintenance of building water purification systems, management and maintenance of departmental copiers/printers/faxes, and assistance with School Student events. Once he has completed the necessary training, Matt will also be responsible for OH&S compliance, hazardous waste disposal, ordering and distribution of gases, and Chief Warden duties in the Heydon-Laurence Building.

In his previous life, Matt studied Marine Science at Sydney University and completed Honours in Marine Ecology, followed by a four year Research Assistant position with Tony Underwood and Ross Coleman.

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Faculty General Staff Award
Claudio Muhlrad, Manager of Carslaw and Macleay Teaching Support, has been awarded the inaugural general staff prize from the Faculty of Science. Claudio has made an outstanding contribution to the School and the Faculty through his excellent management of practical laboratory classes for over 2,500 first year undergraduate students, his insistence on quality improvement in infrastructure, his sound team management and his striving to continually improve the student experience. Claudio will receive the award at the Faculty of Science Prize Ceremony on 17th May 2011.
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Postgraduate Award

Reid Tingley has been awarded the prestigious Postgraduate Excellence Prize in Biological Sciences for his PhD research into "the global patterns of introduction and establishment success in exotic amphibians". Reid was one of four PhD students - including James Herbert-Read, Bridget Murphy and Endymion Cooper - to reach the finals for the 2010 prize, which judges said was particularly hard to award due to the exceptional quality of all candidates and the "razor thin" difference between them.

To compete for the prize, worth $1000, the finalists presented their research in a 20-minute seminar to the School, which was judged by the panel of academic staff. The prize-winner was announced by the Head of School at the first 2011 morning tea held on 10 February.

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Honours Award
Clarissa Fraser has been named "2010 Student of the Year" by the Marine Aquarium Society. Clarissa completed Honours in 2010 with Associate Professor Ross Coleman and is continuing on with a PhD.
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New Associate Professors
Congratulations to Glenda Wardle, Clare McArthur, Dieter Hochuli, Charlie Warren
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New Division of Natural Sciences
The Faculty of Science has joined with the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and Faculty of Veterinary Science to form the Division of Natural Sciences. This Division will be run by a Divisional Board consisting of the Deans of the three faculties plus the Deputy Dean of Science and a representative from Medicine. This Board is a sub-committee of SEB (Senior Executive Group) of the University.
Review of Life Sciences
There will be a broad review of life sciences across the University during 2011. The review will focus largely on teaching but will also include some research elements. It will include Science (Biology and SMB), Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Vet and Health Sciences.
Prof Mike Thompson appointed Deputy Dean and Associate Dean (research)
Mike Thompson was appointed as Associate Dean (research) for the Faculty of Science in August 2010 and now as Deputy Dean. As Deputy Dean he will sit on the Divisional Board and oversee the upcoming Review of Life Sciences.
Prof Stephen Simpson appointed Divisional Chairman (Research)
Steve Simpson has been appointed as Chairman (Research) of the Division of Natural Sciences, where he will oversee research strategy across the division.
School Office moves to Carslaw Level 5
The administration team of the School are now located together on Level 5 Carslaw Building. The team enjoyed welcoming the School to see this new area at the February Head's Morning Tea. The team is in a period of transition as functions are moved between the various positions.
Professor Chris Dickman ARC Panel Member
Chris Dickman has been appointed as a member of the Biological Sciences and Biotechnology Panel on the Australian Research Council (ARC) College of Experts. The role will mostly assess and rank proposals submitted to the ARC for funding, and also provide advice on emerging developments in the member's field of research. The membership lasts for two years, with an option of continuing for a third.
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New Format for Friday seminars
The School has voted to trial a new format for the Friday seminars, which will see seminars start at 3:30pm followed by a social mixer from 4:30pm in the foyer of DTA. This year's seminar organisers, Drs Simon Ho and Fiona Clissold, will run this new format for semester one and with feedback from the School, will review it before semester two. Simon and Fiona also propose holding a luncheon for the speaker at midday, which will be open to anybody in the School (RSVPs essential).
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Sarah Newell
After three years in the School, Sarah Newell is leaving us and going to Nepal. The School is indebted to Sarah for her contributions as first year administrative assistant and for the hard work she put into organising countless successful events for the School and its members. People from accross the University attended a luncheon at the Lansdowne Hotel on Friday 11, to wish her all the best for her exciting trip.
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Title Goes Here
The real social network: social groups faster & more accurate
Social networking is not just fun. New research led by Associate Professor Ashley Ward, Biological Sciences, shows for the first time that larger social groups make faster and more accurate decisions.
ABC Science | Ashley Ward
Fish in groups decide quicker, better
Australian Geographic | Rick Shine
Ruthless march of the toxic invader
Northern Star | Maria Byrne
Warming oceans turn up heat on marine life
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