Environment Institute

Pablo Garcia Diaz

The Environment Institute congratulates PhD student, Pablo Garcia Diaz for winning the Student Prize for his presentation at the Statistics in Ecology and Environmental Monitoring (SEEM) 2015 conference in Queenstown, New Zealand recently.

Pablo won over the judges with his 5-minute ‘speed talk’ presentation about his research into the preparedness of Australian border and post-border biosecurity in detecting new incursions of exotic amphibians into the country.

Under the supervision of Associate Professor Phillip Cassey and Associate Professor Joshua Ross at the University of Adelaide and Dr Andrew Woolnough (Vic DPI), Pablo’s PhD research highlights his interest in exotic vertebrate risk analysis and invasion pathway modelling. He is also involved in Adelaide University’s Invasion Ecology Group.

Image source: www.invasiveanimals.com

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Individual human genes can behave differently depending on whether they are inherited from the mother or the father. At a free public lecture at the University of Adelaide next week, leading Harvard University evolutionary geneticist Professor David Haig will speak about this genetic conflict and how it influences the way we develop.

Professor Haig will present the 2015 Sir Ronald Fisher Lecture which this year celebrates the 125th birthday of the renowned geneticist and statistician RA Fisher ─ considered one of the founders of modern biological sciences.

Professor Haig is the George Putnam Professor of Biology, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Chair of the Australian Studies Committee at Harvard University. He is author of Genomic Imprinting and Kinship, and is an evolutionary geneticist/theorist interested in conflicts and conflict resolution within the genome.

“Medicine and biology usually have an implicit model of the body as a well-functioning machine and the mind as something like a fitness-maximising computer,” says Professor Haig. “But the fact that natural selection is sometimes acting at cross-purposes contributes to a lack of stability in these systems and occasional malfunctions. Understanding how these systems have evolved can aid medical intervention.”

The Sir Ronald Fisher Lecture was endowed in 1989 by Emeritus Professor PA Parsons, a former student of Fisher. Fisher spent his last years of life (from 1959-1962) in Adelaide, closely associated with the University’s Genetics department. His archives were deposited with the University’s Barr Smith Library in 1981.

The public lecture – Genomic imprinting and the divided self – will be a highlight in a week of celebrations of genetics at the University of Adelaide.

Two genetics conferences from 5-8 July and 8-10 July will see a line-up of international and national speakers discussing cutting-edge research on a wide range of topics from medical genetics, through forensics and behavioural genetics to conservation, and will also feature talks on RA Fisher’s work. The conferences are the annual Genetics Society of AustralAsia and the Australian Academy of Science Boden conference: Comparative Animal Genomics Down Under.

A session on learning and teaching genetics may also interest science teachers. Day registrations are available.

WHAT:    Sir Ronald Fisher Lecture: Genomic imprinting and the divided self with Professor David Haig
WHERE:   Scott Theatre, North Terrace campus, University of Adelaide
WHEN:     5:30pm, Tuesday 7 July 2015
COST:       Free, no booking required.

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drone image

Chair of Applied Ecology and Conservation, Associate Professor Lian Pin Koh from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute is an expert on drones.

He has partnered with conservation and research organisations from more than a dozen countries including the Worldwide fund for Nature, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Wildlife Conservation Society, the Jane Goodall Institute, Conservation International, Greenpeace and the Max Plank Institute.

This man knows drones – he has spoken about conservation drones at the 2012 WWF Fuller Symposium in Washington DC, the 2013 TEDGlobal event in Edinburgh and the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative University in Miami, Florida.

Associate Professor Lian Pin Koh also helped establish, and serves as Director of the University’s Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility (URAF), and is the Founding Director of ConservationDrones.org.

The URAF provides the organisational infrastructure, as well as the technical and legislative knowledge base concerning the use of unmanned aircraft, or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), for a wide range of environmental and agricultural applications. It also serves as a coalescing node for fostering partnerships and interactions related to RPAS applications between students, researchers, natural resource managers and industry partners in South Australia.

‘Through my research using Conservation Drones, I aim to connect conservation workers and researchers worldwide, especially those in developing countries. We aim to raise awareness of conservation challenges, and inspire others to adapt emerging technologies for conservation,’ says Associate Professor Koh.

For more information about the Facility, contact Associate Professor Lian Pin Koh (lianpin.koh@adelaide.edu.au) or view the new URAF website.

Image source: conservationdrones.org

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In a special feature in The Advertiser entitled ‘The fight to bring animals back from the brink,’ four University of Adelaide scientists explain their role in the battle against extinction of our native animals. From sea snakes to native quolls to the Tasmanian devil, these scientists are on the case. Read the full story. Image source: […]

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  Senior Research Associate, Dr Jimmy Breen from the Environment Institute’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), was interviewed recently by The Lead about the new On-line Ancient Genome Repository (OAGR). A new world-first open access databank of ancient DNA will allow researchers worldwide to compare DNA from humans from thousands of years ago with […]

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The Spencer Gulf Ecosystem & Development Initiative (SGEDI) is reducing costs, aiding development and answering environmental challenges for one of South Australia’s leading economic development zones. The SGEDI Science Update and Outcomes May 2015 is now available as an ebrochure.

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Celebrate genetics in Adelaide in July with two conferences that feature an outstanding set of 14 national and 12 international speakers and cover a wide range of topics in genetics research. The first conference will be the annual Genetics Society of Australasia conference, followed by a prestigious two-day Boden Research conference – Comparative Animal Genomics Down Under. […]

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Date/Time: Tuesday, 7 July 2015, 5:30 pm Location: Scott Theatre Cost: FREE Abstract: My mother’s kin are not my father’s kin and the interests of these two kin groups do not always coincide. Therefore, our genomes are sometimes divided against themselves over what choices maximise genetic fitness. This evolutionary conflict has resulted in genes evolving […]

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Habitat isolation challenges species dispersal to colonise and occupy new locations. A paper published in Biology Letters by Dr Pablo Munguia entitled ‘Role of sources and temporal sinks in a marine amphipod,’ explores how populations can survive in isolated habitats, and how new populations of a small marine crustacean respond to habitat isolation. The results suggest that newly […]

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Medical and other researchers and science teachers around the world will be able to compare ancient DNA from humans from thousands of years ago with the genetics of modern day humans, thanks to a new world-first open access databank at the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD). The Online Ancient Genome Repository (OAGR) […]

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