Professor Stephen Simpson
AC FAA FRS
Academic Director, The Charles Perkins Centre
Professor, School of Biological Sciences
D17 - Charles Perkins Centre
The University of Sydney
|Telephone||+61 2 8627 1613|
The Charles Perkins Centre
Professor Stephen Simpson, AC is Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, and a Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney, and Executive Director of Obesity Australia.
Stephen was born in Melbourne. After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Queensland, he undertook his PhD at the University of London. He spent 22 years at the University of Oxford, first in Experimental Psychology, then in the Department of Zoology and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, before returning to Australia in 2005 as an ARC Federation Fellow.
Stephen has been Visiting Professor at Oxford, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the University of Arizona, and Guest Professor at the University of Basel.
In 2007 Stephen was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, in 2008 he was awarded the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research, in 2009 he was named NSW Scientist of the Year, and in 2010 he was named as the Wigglesworth Medallist by the Royal Entomological Society of London, of which he was made an Honorary Fellow. He was also co-writer, narrator and presenter of the four-part documentary Great Southern Land, for ABC TV, which was aired to critical and viewer acclaim in September 2012.
In 2013 Stephen was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London as “one of the world’s foremost entomologists and nutritional biologists”, and in 2015 he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia “for eminent service to biological and biomedical science.”
Stephen Simpson, together with David Raubenheimer, developed an integrative modelling framework for nutrition (the Geometric Framework), which was devised and tested using insects. This has since been applied to a wide range of organisms, from slime moulds to humans, and problems, from aquaculture and conservation biology to the dietary causes of human obesity and ageing. He has also revolutionised understanding of swarming in locusts, with research spanning neurochemical events within the brains of individual locusts to continental-scale mass migration.
Stephen also leads the Behaviour and Physiology Research Group, which studies the neural, physiological, ecological and evolutionary bases of animal behaviour. The group's emphasis is 'bottom-up', in that we are especially concerned with the way in which lower-level processes lead to higher level outcomes. The approach focuses on the behaviour of individual organisms and involves an interplay between theory and experiment. Most of our experimental work is on insects, although recent work has examined fish, birds and mammals - including humans. Techniques employed include the quantitative analysis of behaviour, neurophysiology, metabolic and digestive physiology, mathematical modelling, computer simulations and laboratory selection experiments.
Awards and honours
- Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), 2015
- Fellow of the Royal Society, 2013
- Edwards Oration, Australian Society for Medical Research,2013
- Honorary Fellow, Royal Entomological Society, 2013
- The Wigglesworth Medal and Award, Royal Entomological Society, 2012
- ARC Laureate Fellowship, 2009-2014
- NSW Scientist of the Year, 2009
- NSW Scientist of the Year Award for Plant and Animal Sciences, 2009
- Inaugural ‘Frontiers in Biology’ Lecturer, Princeton University, 2009
- Eureka Prize for Scientific Research, 2008
- Fellow, Australian Academy of Science, 2007
- Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio, Italy, invited participant, 2006
- ARC Federation Fellowship, 2005-2009
- Visiting Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, 2005-2008
- Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, University of Oxford, 2005-2008
- Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute of Advanced Study), 2002-2003
- Invited Exhibitor, Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, 2001
- Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Arizona, 1999
- Guest Professor, University of Basel, 1990
In the media
- Great Southern Land, co-writer, presenter and narrator, ABC, September 2012
- Nature’s Weirdest Events, BBC, January 2012
- Locusts, Animal Planet/Oxford Scientific Films, 2009
- Catalyst, ABC, 2009
- Catalyst, ABC, 2008
- Mega Disasters: Super Swarm, History Channel, 2007
- Killer Swarm, Channel 5 UK, 2006
- The Perfect Swarm, National Geographic, 2005
- Dietary protein and lifespan. (2014). Nature Medicine 20(4), 349.
- Diet studies challenge thinking on proteins versus carbs. (2014). Science 343, 1068.
- Locust swarms: The rules of attraction. (2010). The Economist 18 September
- Hunger and cannibalism make locusts swarm. (2010). Planet Earth online
- Brainless behavior: a myxomycete chooses a balanced diet. (2010). PNAS 107, 5267-5268.
- Q&A. (2009). Current Biology 19, R632-R633.
- Animal behaviour: feeding the superorganism. (2009). Current Biology 19, R366.
- Sensible swarming. (2009). Nature 457, 132.
- Evolutionary ecology: old ideas percolate into ecology. (2009). Current Biology 19, R21-R23.
- The key to Pandora’s box. (2009). Science 323, 594-595.
- The hunger, the horror. (2008). New Scientist May 31, 42-45.
- Locusts, Cannibalism & Human Obesity. (2007). Australasian Science, August, 20-22.
- How locusts decide it’s time to swarm. (2006). New Scientist, June1.
- Align in the sand. Perspective. (2006). Science 312, 1320-1322.
- March of the locusts. Research Highlights. (2006). Nature 441, 670.
- Push on the marching crickets. News & Views. (2006). Nature 440, 38.
- Can the war on locusts be won? (2004). Science 306, 1880-1882.
- An insect’s extreme makeover. (2004). Science 306, 1881.
PhD and master's project opportunities
- Modeling biological interactions: from individuals to ecosystems
- Nutrition and the origin of phenotype
- Securing the future of water and soil
- Do genes have memory?
- The evolutionary ecology of complex microbial communities
- Complex Brain Networks and Nutrition
- New approaches to Early Detection of Chronic Disease
- Social and Healthcare Network Effects on Delivery and Quality Of Care
- Physical, Mental and Psychological Health through Personal Networks
- Making Green Guard® greener: enhancing the efficacy of a biopesticide; Simpson S, Holmes E, Buhl J, Wilson K, Woodman J; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Projects (LP).
- Microbiome-dependent shifts in macronutrient preferences and their impact on metabolic health and longevity; Simpson S; Allen Foundation Inc/Research Grant.
- Ageing and latelife health: calories, macronutrients or branched chain amino acids; Simpson S, Le Couteur D, Sinclair D, De Cabo R; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
- Defining factors that contribute to individual diversity in the diet-health axis; James D, Neely G, Simpson S; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
- Gut permeability, diet and glucose homeostasis in humans; Lam Y, Simpson S, Caterson I, Salis (nee Sainsbury) A; Diabetes Australia Research Trust (DART)/Research Grants.
- Australian Centre of Excellence in Twin Research; Hopper J, Craig J, Mackey D, Byrne B, Simpson S, Carrick S, Ferreira P; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Centres of Research Excellence.
- Towards real time data sharing to support patient-centred care, quality health delivery, improvement programmes, performance management and research; Morris J, Roberts C, Simpson S, Kay J, Venkatesh S, Fazekas de St Groth B, Arthur J, Feng D, Holmes E, James D, Yang J, Engel A; NSW Ministry of Health, Office for Health and Medical Research/Bioinformatics Collaborative Grants Program.
- Dining with Dasyurids: Using Nutritional Geometry to Improve Diets for Captive Breeding Programs; Wilder S, Raubenheimer D, McAllan B, Simpson S, Spindler R, Van Sluys M, Shaw M; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Projects (LP).
- Establishment of a Preconception Cohort Study in VietNam to link with the Charles Perkins Centre Cohort study; Morris J, Baur L, Benn D, Glasson R, Robinson B, Simpson S, Dang D, Tran T, Smyth C; DVC International/IPDF Grant.
- IMELDA: Indonesian Model for Epidemic Lifestyle Disease Associations; Holmes A, Simpson S, Sudoyo H, Malik S, Suastika K; DVC International/IPDF Grant.
- The University of Sydney Core Facility for Human Body Composition Assessment; Salis (nee Sainsbury) A, Caterson I, Brand-Miller J, Simpson S, Tam C, Johnson N, Grunstein R; DVC Research/Equipment Grant.
- Integrating nutritional immunology; Simpson S, Holmes A, Ponton F, Wilson K; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).
- Gold-standard assessment of body composition during interventions to prevent diabetes and the frailty of old age; Salis (nee Sainsbury) A, Caterson I, Brand-Miller J, Simpson S, Johnson N, Franklin J, Yee B; Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation/Equipment Grant.
- Advanced High Resolution Mass Spectrometer for Collaborative Proteomic and Lipidomics Research; Raftery M, Cordwell S, Stocker R, Simpson S; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF).
- Do nutritionally poor environments promote sociality Testing a long-standing hypothesis in two socially plastic insect groups (INSSOCPLAS); Simpson S, Gilbert J; European Commission (Belgium)/Marie Curie Outgoing International Fellowship.
- David Coffey Donation; Simpson S; Research Donations/Research Donations.
- Sydney Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity Network (SIBRN); Dhand N, Sorrell T, Bennett B, Booy R, Crawford J, Dwyer D, Gilbert G, Giles F, Holmes A, Hossain L, Iredell J, Jones C, Kesson A, Kerridge I, Marais B, Simpson S, Sintchenko V, Ward M, Werder O, Britton W, Hunter C, Kamradt-Scott A, Mor S, Salkeld G, Shaw T, Smith F, Wood N; DVC Research/Research Network Scheme (SyReNS).
- A flexible high throughput analytical system for psychopharmacology and drug discovery; McGregor I, Simpson S, Shannon Weickert C, Kassiou M, Copeland J, Solowij N, Codd R, Arnold J, Karl T, Long L; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF).
- Host-pathogen interactions as a resource competition problem; Wilson K, Simpson S, Cotter S, Smith J, Graham R; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UK)/Research Support.
- Safety in numbers or beware thy neighbour: collective motion and disease transmission in a migratory pest (LOCDIS); Graham R, Graham R, Simpson S; European Commission/Marie Curie Action: International Research Staff Exchange.
- Can bees meet their nutritional needs in the current UK landscape; Simpson S, Borland A, Wright G; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UK)/Research Support.
- Dietary nutrients, variety and the control of human energy intake; Simpson S, Conigrave A; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
- Sydney basin Multi-purpose Spectral Analysis Facility for evolutionary and ecological studies.; Ballard J, McArthur C, Simpson S, Oldroyd B, Beekman M, Sword G; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF).
- Nutritional immunology: a new frontier in biology; Ponton F, Simpson S; DVC Research/Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Scheme.
- Developing a new framework for analysing the impact of nutrition on immunity and parasitism; Simpson S, Wilson K; DVC Research/International Visiting Research Fellowship (IVRF).
- Embla (Titanium PSG System); Grunstein R, Liu P, Robinson P, Simpson S; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Equipment Grants.
- Nutritional Dynamics: from Genes to Individuals to Ecosystems; Simpson S; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Australian Laureate Fellowships (FL).
- Next-generation high-speed flow cytometric cell sorter; Fazekas de St Groth B, King N, Simpson S, Britton W, Campbell I, Vadas M, Grau G, Weninger W, Christopherson R, Gamble J, Rasko J, McCaughan G, Xia P, Beale P, Holst J, Haass N, Combes V, Saunders B, Byrne S, West N, Gorrell M, Bertolino P, Bowen D, Warner F, Seth D, Grimshaw M, Jolly C, Martiniello-Wilks R, Mrass P, Lyons G, Sword G; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Equipment Grants.
- Locust Swarming: From Neurochemistry to Mass Migration; Simpson S; DVC International/IPDF Grant.
- Ageing, Nutrition and Geometric Framework; Cumming R, Simpson S, Le Couteur D, Blyth F, Naganathan V, Kendig H, Seibel M; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
- Heterarchical modelling of nutritional ecology: from individuals to communities; Couzin I, Simpson S, Raubenheimer D, Couzin I, Charleston M, Sword G; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).
- The Nutritional geometry of ageing in a rodent model ; Simpson S, Le Couteur D, Raubenheimer D, Ballard J; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
- Autonomous tracking and predictive modelling of Australian plague locust migratory band movement; Sword G, Sukkarieh S, Brooker G, Simpson S, Spurgin P, Spurgin P; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Projects (LP).
- Video analysis suite for the integrative analysis of resource acquisition behaviour in animals; Simpson S, Shine R, Thompson M, Seebacher F, Pile A, McArthur C, Coleman R, Beekman M, Ward A, Sword G, Brooks R, Poore A, Bonduriansky R, Cassis G, Olsson M, Williams S, Booth D; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF).
- Video analysis suite for the integrative analysis of resource acquisition behaviour in animals; Simpson S, Shine R, Thompson M, Seebacher F, Pile A, McArthur C, Coleman R, Beekman M, Ward A, Sword G, Brooks R, Poore A, Bonduriansky R, Cassis G, Olsson M, Booth D, Williams S; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF).
- The functional genomics of locust migratory behaviour; Sword G, Simpson S, Lo N, Kang L; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).
- Nutrition and ageing: caloric restriction and free radicals revisited; Simpson S; University of Sydney/Bridging Support.
- Marie Curie Fellowship - Australian plague locust population genetics and migratory behaviour; Simpson S; European Commission via INRA/Research Grant.
- Marie Curie Fellowship - Australian plague locust population genetics and migratory behaviour; Simpson S; European Commission via INRA/Research Grant.
- Self-medication or host-manipulation: influence of parasites on host feeding behaviour; Simpson S; Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP)/Research Grant.
- Testing the protein leverage hypothesis in humans; Simpson S, Conigrave A, Caterson I, Brand-Miller J; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
- A geometrical and genomic analaysis of the nutritional bases of ageing in a model invertebrate, droSchool of Philosophical and Historical Inquiryla melanogaster; Simpson S; University of Sydney/Bridging Support.
- Climate controlled physical containment 2 (PC2) and pathogen/insect contained glasshouse facility; Day D, Guest D, Warren C, Simpson S, Kennedy I, Overall R, Smith P, McArthur C, Mansfield S, Gardiner J, McConchie R, Copeland L, Kecskes M; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF).
- Australian plague locust population genetics and migratory behaviour; Simpson S, Sword G, McCulloch L, Steinbauer J, Steinbauer M; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Projects (LP).
- On the move: the study of self-organised movement of animal groups with and without leadership; Simpson S, Beekman M; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).
- Integrative behaviour: A new synthesis; Simpson S; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Federation Fellowship (FF).
- Adaptability of an insect herbivore, the diamondback moth, to change in its nutritional environment; Raubenheimer D, Simpson S; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UK)/Research Support.
The Nature of Nutrition: A Unifying Framework from Animal Adaptation to Human Obesity (Princeton University Press, 2012)