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The University of Sydney
Biological Sciences
July 2011
Visiting academic
Professor Francisco Sanchez-Tortosa

Visiting from the Zoology Department in Cordoba University (Southern Spain), Francisco will be in the School for a Sabbatical semester from June to November 2011 working with Dr Peter Banks. During his stay, Francisco and Peter plan to conduct a field experiment with rabbits in which they will explore the response of rabbits to both Australian native (eg: quolls) and non-native predators (eg: foxes). His research in Spain is mainly related to conservation biology and game species, since habitat management for game species provides a useful scenario to recover biodiversity in Mediterranean areas.

While in Sydney. Francisco will also present a Friday seminar, titled "Damage to crops in Southern Spain: Pest rabbits or pest herbicides", on July 29.

Professional Staff
Rodd Hills

Rodd is the new the Customer Service / Student Services Assistant, located at the Carslaw Building. He is replacing Chris O'Neil, who left on 3 June, and is working with the Administration and FYB Teams in the School. Rodd has over 10 years experience in education, having worked at UWS, La Trobe University and TAFE NSW (both with local and international students).

His personal interests are aquaculture, aviculture (he has kept and cared for a large variety of species including parrots, finches, doves and quail species), animals, ecological/conservational studies, palaeontology, archaeology, cryptozoology and fantasy /sci-fi (his self-professed nerdy streak).

Postdoctoral staff
Dr James Gilbert

James is a postdoctoral researcher and entomologist in the lab of Prof. Steve Simpson. He is interested in how micro and macroevolutionary trade-offs integrate to affect insect reproductive strategies and life histories. For example, it is an evolutionary puzzle why individuals of some species cooperate to reproduce. One longstanding theory is that nutritionally poor environments reduce individuals' chances of breeding independently, forcing cooperation with other individuals. His current project focuses on testing this in the field, using thrips - insects that can be social or solitary. Working with Steve, a pioneer in nutritional approaches to ecological questions, he will test firstly whether social behaviour occurs more often on nutritionally imbalanced food plants, and secondly whether experimentally upsetting a plant's nutritional balance causes independent breeders to decide instead to cooperate. If successful, this will open up a paradigm that has been theorized but never rigorously tested, representing a major contribution to social biology.

Prior to this, James completed a postdoctoral position at the University of Maryland and a Phd at the University of Cambridge.

Dr Agustin Zsogon
Agustin is a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr Mary Byrne until next year. In Sydney, his research will aim to characterise Arabidopsis ribosomal protein mutants. Agustin's background includes an MSc in plant physiology from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and a PhD in plant biology from the ANU. His interests are plant physiology and breeding, evolutionary biology and, being Argentinean, soccer.
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Daniela Barreto
Daniela - our Technical Officer in the Genetics team - has left the School to take on a job at Westmead Children's Hospital. We thank Daniela for her assistance in supporting teaching and wish her all the best for her new role in medical science.
Basil Panayotakos
After more than 30 years as Workshop Technical Officer, Basil will be leaving the School to take an extended period of Long Service Leave from 9 August 2011 to 3 August 2012. An indispensible part of the School's research and teaching portfolio, Basil's absence will represent a challenge to many people in the School who have come to rely on his technical expertise on an enormous range of equipment. Head of School, Professor Robyn Overall, says Basil's year of absence will represent a "trial retirement, to give the School a chance to get used to life without Basil while still having the safety of calling on him in peak periods." In Basil's place at the helm of the workshop will be Rattan Bhandari, who commenced in the School in May. We wish Basil all the best for his long service leave - it is richly deserved!
Suzan Ramsey
On August 3, Suzan Ramsey will be leaving after 12 years of dedicated service to the School. In her role as Executive Assistant, followed by Administration Manager, Suzan has provided administrative support for three Heads of School - Roz Hinde, Mike Thompson and Robyn Overall - as well as almost every other member of the school at one time or another. At the morning tea in July, Head of School, Robyn Overall thanked Suzan for all she has done for the School, saying: "Suzan will be sorely missed by us. She is forever gracious, pleasant and extraordinarily thorough in her work. We wish her all the best and hope she will give us at least a fleeting thought from her poolside deck chair in Queensland." The School will celebrate with Suzan at a lunch on her last day at work.
Dr Peter Oxley
Peter concluded the position of Teaching Focussed academic / Associate Lecturer in the School on 24 June to take up a postdoctoral position in the US.
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Fisheries Society award
Associate Professor Ashley Ward has won the prestigious FSBI medal from the Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI), which recognises distinction in early career research. Ashley will be presented with his medal at the annual FSBI conference, held this year in Bournemouth, UK.
Early career award
Dr Simon Ho has been awarded the "Early Career Researcher Award" from the Genetics Society of Australasia (GSA) at their annual conference during July in Melbourne.
Learning and teaching award
Dr Charlotte Taylor was awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Citation for sustained innovation, evaluation and sharing of teaching initiatives and learning experiences for very large first year cohorts in the biological sciences.
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Future fellowship
Associate Professor Charles Warren was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship, for $802,592 over four years, for the project titled: "The metabolic footprint of plants ".
Linkage Grant
Professor Rick Shine was awarded an ARC Linkage Project Grant, for $530,000 over five years, for the project titled: "Ecology, impact and control of cane toads on the southern invasion front".
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Dr Will Figueira was awarded an ARC Linkage Project Grant, for $98,166 over three years, for the project titled: "Closing the loop: understanding the relationships between recreational fishing surveys, fishing regulations and fisheries management objectives".
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Learning and teaching grant
Dr Charlotte Taylor was awarded $100,000 by the ALTC to establish a Discipline Learning & Teaching Network: "Vision and Innovation in Biology Education (VIBE.net)".
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Curriculum retreat
On 18-19 July, Robyn Overall and Mike Thompson attended a Division of Natural Sciences retreat to focus on the curriculum issues between the faculties of Science, Veterinary Science and Food and Agricultural Resources. A number of potential teaching synergies between Vet, Biology and Agriculture were identified which we will explore further in the coming months.
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Synthetic Biology: next gen of GM
Wednesday, August 10 | 5:45pm - 7:00pm
Presented by 2011 Murray Lecturer, Dr Jim Haseloff, this lecture will take you on a journey into hyper-coloured plants cells through award-winning images to explore the exciting future of the science that is changing life as we know it - synthetic biology. Enjoy a complementary cocktail reception and plant extravaganza after the talk. Please RSVP to Sydney Science Forum
The foraging tight-rope between predation risk and plant toxins: a matter of concentration
Friday, August 5 | 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Presented by: SoBS staffer, Assoc. Professor Clare McArthur. Join us for drinks and nibbles in the A08 foyer after the talk.
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Research grants
Division of Natural Sciences
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Dr Jim Haseloff is the 2011 Murray Lecturer
From 8 - 25 August, Dr Jim Haseloff, from the Plant Sciences Department at the University of Cambridge, will be visiting the Biological Sciences to give a public talk and to engage in mentoring activities with our students.
ABC Catalyst | Chris Dickman and DERG
Professor Chris Dickman
ScienceNOW | Rick Shine and Greg Brown
Long-Dead Cane Toads Continue to Haunt Australian Wildlife
The Australian | Kerryn Parry-Jones
Call to cull bat colonies after Hendra outbreak
Wednesday, August 10 | 5:45pm
Synthetic Biology
Friday, August 5 | 3:30pm
Friday Seminar
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