The Tall Poppy Campaign was created in 1998 by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) to recognise and celebrate Australian intellectual and scientific excellence and to encourage younger Australians to follow in the footsteps of our outstanding achievers. It has made significant achievements towards building a more publicly engaged scientific leadership in Australia.
The Tall Poppy Campaign currently recognises the achievements of Australian scientists through the prestigious annual Young Tall Poppy Science Awards and the biennial CSL Florey Medal.
Dr Thomas Newsome is one of the 2016 NSW award winners. Dr Newsome studies how top predators (big animals like dingoes and wolves at the top of the food chain) change the abundance and behaviour of their prey and competitors, and how that in turn affects other species and ecological processes.
Currently, Australians kill or exclude top predators from enormous tracts of the continent. One quarter of Australia is now dingo-free and has been for half a century. In that time, Australia’s landscapes have degraded substantially. Australia has lost 29 native mammals to extinction since European settlement.
If bringing back dingoes would stem that massive decline in ecosystem health, then we need to know. Fast. This is big picture, big impact research. It affects the long-term sustainability of our landscapes, the preservation of our remaining native animals, and our world’s future food security.
During his PhD, Thomas worked with indigenous ranger groups, designing and providing a training package that contributed to those rangers obtaining a Cert II in Conservation and Land Management. He has also been selected to participate in a two-year cross cultural leadership program developed by Desert Knowledge Australia. Recently he co-authored a book that aims to inspire the next generation of Central Australian wildlife researchers (Red Kangaroo In Central Australia).
Big congrats from all of us at the CIE!