Ecologist wins Distinguished Alumni Award for research on invasive alien species across three continents

Dr Pablo García-Díaz, collaborator with Assoc Professor Phill Cassey‘s Invasion Science and Wildlife Ecology Group and previous University of Adelaide PhD student, has been awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions in recognition of the impact his research on invasive alien species has had in Australia, Europe and South America.

Mr Bruce Christie, Chair of Board of the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions announced the winner of the inaugural award at a function following a gathering of the next generation of researchers working to find solutions to Australia’s invasive species held at the Academy of Science’s Shine Dome in Canberra on 16 September 2022.

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognises scientists and researchers who have completed the Centre’s Balanced Researcher Program and have had a significant impact on their profession or field of expertise, have demonstrated their commitment to reducing the impact of invasive species in Australia, and their ongoing involvement with the Centre and its members.

Mr Andreas Glanznig, Chief Executive of the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, said that Dr García-Díaz had made significant contributions to the ecological understanding and on-ground management of invasive alien species along the biosecurity continuum, from prevention to early detection to the long-term management of invasive species.

“Dr García-Díaz exemplifies the qualities we are looking for in our researchers and science trained decision makers who will play a critical role in future-proofing Australia’s biosecurity system,” said Mr Glanznig.

Associate Professor Phill Cassey from the University of Adelaide accepted the Distinguished Alumni Award on Dr García-Díaz’ behalf.

“I am so pleased that Pablo has been recognised by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions with the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award.

“As Pablo’s PhD supervisor I had a front row seat to watch his professional development and can genuinely say that the Centre’s Balanced Researcher Program was instrumental in setting him on his path to success — success that has not only benefitted Australia, but also the many countries where his research has influenced management and policy actions, including Australia, Aotearoa-New Zealand, the UK, Brazil, Argentina and Chile”, said Associate Professor Cassey.

Also recognised at the award ceremony with Leadership and Development Bursaries were three participants of the Centre’s Balanced Researcher Program: PhD students Katherine Hill (The University of Adelaide), Elena Smertina (University of Canberra) and Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Adam Toomes (The University of Adelaide).

The Leadership and Development Bursaries were provided by the Invasive Species Solutions Trust and will help support the three recipients as they take the next steps in their professional journeys.

Profile: Dr Pablo García-Díaz
Dr Pablo García-Díaz currently a Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen. He was a participant in the Balanced Researcher Program — hosted by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions and its predecessor the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre — from 2013 to 2017.

Dr García-Díaz studied his PhD at The University of Adelaide, under the supervision of Associate Professor Phill Cassey, and completed his thesis on ‘Alien vertebrate risk assessment and invasion pathway modelling” in 2017.

Dr García-Díaz is now an internationally recognised expert in ecology and the management of alien species credited as an author in 41 published articles, including 23 peer reviewed journal articles since 2013.

Dr García-Díaz most recent peer reviewed journal article is for the co-authored paper ‘Drivers of the Australian native pet trade: the role of species traits, socioeconomic attributes and regulatory systems’ published under Open Access in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Leadership and Development Bursary Recipients – University of Adelaide

Katherine Hill

Katherine Hill is a PhD candidate in the Invasion Science and Wildlife Ecology group. Katherine’s thesis is ‘Feather forensics: tracing Australian parrot trade with online trade analysis, stable isotopes and citizen science’. Associate Professor Phill Cassey is supervising her PhD.

Dr Adam Toomes

Dr Adam Toomes is a Postdoctoral Researcher. Adam’s thesis was on the exotic pet trade and Australian biosecurity.


Story originally published on the News page of the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions.

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