Staff that teach the Masters of Wildlife Health and Population Management come from the Sydney School of Veterinary Science, other academic institutions, government and industry. They have been selected so that students are taught by those that are actively involved in the field across its wide range, allowing students to be exposed to the most current issues relating to wildlife management and to develop a network of contacts that will allow them to develop their careers after completion of the program.

The core staff are:
A/Prof David Phalen
Dr Derek Spielman, lecturer
Dr Tony Buckmaster, lecturer
Dr Kellie Leigh, lecturer

Associate Professor David Phalen


David Phalen is a veterinarian and is an expert advisor to the Wildlife Health and Conservation Clinic and the Avian Reptile and Exotic Pet Hospital. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a Bachelors of Arts (Biology) in 1979. He has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University (1983) and a PhD from Texas A&M University in Veterinary Microbiology (1992). He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners Avian Specialty. David worked 17 years at Texas A&M University where he taught wildlife and exotic animal medicine and was Associate Director of the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Centre. He came to the University of Sydney in 2006 where he teaches conservation biology, exotic and wildlife medicine at the University of Sydney’s Avian Reptile Exotic Pet Hospital and is a coordinator for and instructor in the Masters of Wildlife Health and Population Management. As coordinator for the Wildlife Masters, he has supervised over 100 students to the successful completion of their Masters program.

Dr Derek Spielman, lecturer


Derek Spielman MVSc, PhD, MACVSc (Australasian Wildlife Medicine), GradCertTertEd

Derek has extensive training as a veterinarian, wildlife biologist and a teacher. The topic of his PhD was conservation genetics. He has worked as a zoo and wildlife veterinarian in Australia and internationally and has extensive experience in both in situ and ex situ wildlife conservation programs. He is currently a lecturer in the Faculty where he teaches pathology, conservation biology and is the unit of study coordinator for the Ex situ Conservation Unit of Study in the Wildlife Masters. He is a consultant to the International Student Volunteers, leading student working group projects to the Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Derek is also the Vice President and Chief Veterinarian of WAIF, an organization that provides veterinary care to native wildlife.

Derek has many wildlife related interests. These including wildlife diseases in general, the health of captive and free-ranging marine mammals, wildlife rehabilitation, the pharmacology of drugs in native Australian marsupials, and control of over abundant kangaroos in urban settings. He is actively involved in research relating to a number of these fields and supervises honours, Masters and PhD students.

Dr Tony Buckmaster, lecturer


Tony Buckmaster is the unit convenor and primary lecturer for the Vertebrate Pest Management unit in the Wildlife Health and Population Management Program and is also the leader of the Education Program for the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IA CRC). Tony comes from an agricultural background having grown up and worked on the family farm but also has extensive experience in wildlife ecology and strategic pest management as well as eight years of teaching and research experience. Tony has spent three years employed by the University of Canberra to develop and teach graduate level courses in vertebrate pest management. He is regularly invited to give guest lectures on strategic pest management at many universities across Australia.

Tony has a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Applied Science from the University of Canberra. His honours project examined the impacts of urbanisation on the small native mammals in the large urban reserves within Canberra. Tony also has a PhD in Ecology from the University of Sydney and his doctoral research examined the ecology of feral cats in far eastern Gippsland in Victoria. He has worked on research and field based projects across much of south-eastern Australia.

Tony has an interest in all levels of wildlife biology and ecology but has a particular interest in the ecology of small native mammals and the strategic management of invasive predators that prey on these small mammals.

Dr kellie Leigh, lecturer

Kellie Leigh

Kellie is an industry-based conservation biologist and Executive Director of Science for Wildlife Inc. She maintains an Honourary Research Fellow position at the University of Sydney, where she completed her PhD. Kellie has extensive experience in strategic development and conservation program management in the not-for-profit sector. She spent a decade in Zambia where she founded an ongoing non-profit organization which utilises the endangered African wild dog and other large carnivores as flagship species for landscape-scale conservation. Since returning to Australia she has developed conservation programs for a variety of organisations, based on the successful model she developed in Africa of combining scientific research, on-ground conservation action and community education and engagement.

Kellie’s broad research expertise stems from a focus on the application of science to conservation challenges and includes conservation biology, population genetics, behavioural ecology, telemetry, chemical immobilization of wildlife, and GIS analysis. Prior to her time in Africa she worked for the NSW Environment Protection Authority in the field of toxicology and river health. Most recently, together with her quoll detection dog Badger, she completed a study evaluating the performance of wildlife detection dogs in surveying threatened species in Australia. She is currently a Partner Investigator on a national-scale koala conservation genomics project.