Best CIE HDR Research Awards – Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) Annual Conference 2020

Dear CIE HDR students,

An important part of the annual CIE conference is to seek out and acknowledge your fantastic research efforts. So If you have a recent research output, please send it through for consideration in one of our Best CIE HDR Research Award categories.

In 2020, we have four research award categories:

1. Best reviewed research paper (a manuscript that has undergone part, or all of the external peer review process).

2. Best unreviewed research paper (a pre-submitted, or submitted manuscript, lacking any input from peer-review feedback)

Award Rules:

  • Entries are open to all CIE HDR students;
  • Published papers must have been published after October 2019;
  • Papers should reflect research undertaken as part of your current CIE HDR candidature;
  • Papers will be judged, scored, and ranked by a panel of CIE academics;
  • Please email papers (stating category) or submissions to Tim Jessop ( before September 20th to be in the running;
  • Winners will be contacted by email at the end of September.

3. Best CIE HDR award for science outreach:

Here we are looking for great examples of how you are translating and communicating your science for the benefit of the broader community and ideally having an impact beyond the ivory towers of academia! I am leaving this vague in its interpretation to allow for the broadest consideration of your research outreach efforts (e.g. an account of how your science helped Nuns in Mexico sustainably harvest endangered salamanders to make cough syrup, or it could be a blog or some other form of popular science communication ).

If you would like to enter, please send me a brief email, using no more than 200 words to describe your science outreach efforts.

  • Again please email submissions to Tim Jessop ( before September 20th.
  • The winner will be contacted by email at the end of September.

If these do not appeal, and because many of you will be presenting at the upcoming CIE conference then you automatically qualify for the:

4. Best Presentation Awards:

The CIE will also be giving out awards the for best female and best male HDR candidate presentations at the conference.

The winner of each category:

Will be awarded a voucher and certificate.

We look forward to receiving many entries and learning about your great research!

Professor John Endler, one of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London

In a first for Deakin University, Professor John Endler has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the world’s oldest and arguably most prestigious science ­academy.

For more information:

PhD position: PhD candidate within pollution and infection susceptibility in migrating shorebirds

We are looking for a PhD candidate keen on studying the combined impact of pollution and infection susceptibility on migrating shorebirds.

The specific hypothesis of the project are that:

1) susceptibility to infections (e.g. avian influenza) will increase in a host due to high exposure to environmental pollution;

2) pollutants modulate the immune system in a specific manner that facilitates infection prevalence and/or disease severity;

3) microRNA profiles can be used as a predictive tool to assess disease outbreaks and severity.

The position is based at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway, and financed by the Norwegian Research Council and has a special responsibility within the project COAST-IMPACT (August 2020 – July 2023).

The overall aim of COAST-IMPACT is to study the impact of pollution in the coastal wetlands of East Asia by assessing the biodiversity of littoral macroinvertebrates, and the resulting impact of food availability, pollution and infection in migrating shorebirds along the East Asian Australian Flyway using these wetlands.

The field component of this PhD project will be linked to the ongoing large-scale study of migrating shorebirds in Australia (Melbourne in Victoria, and Broome in Western Australia).

Secondly, the lab component of the project will elucidate the mechanisms driving pollutant-induced immunomodulation that relate to increased infection susceptibility in the host (targeting microRNAs and inflammation markers).

Lastly, the obtained data will be used to develop diagnostic biomarkers to assess infection and exposure that will allow to improve disease outbreak predictions for the future.

For further information and to apply for this position CLICK HERE (PhD position) or contact Prof Marcel Klaassen.

Disease Ecology and COVID-19 webinar – open for all to watch online

For those who were unable to connect during live broadcasting of this seminar, you may now find the recording at the CIE’s YouTube channel (don’t forget to subscribe to our channel) or simply follow these direct links to seminar’s content:

Seminar was presented by Alfred Deakin Professor Marcel Klaassen from the Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong.

A follow-up talk by Marcel was given to the CIE-Geelong discussion group on the epidemiology of COVID-19. You can now watch the recording of this talk:

  • COVID-19 epidemiology – its past and its possible futures
  • The app that Marcel developed and which was used in the presentation is available HERE (please scale your screen’s zoom so data fits your screen; navigation is done by clicking on the right or left sides of your screen, similar to a photo gallery, even if you can’t see the navigation arrows)

Interested in Disease Ecology and Epidemiology?

Then you should consider taking SLE 354 in T2-2020. More information below (make sure to watch the Welcome to SLE 354 video):

Avoiding and fighting disease is an important aspect of our life and that of most other organisms. Often the pathogens that cause these diseases are microorganisms and invertebrate parasites that try and use other organisms (i.e. hosts) to their benefit. This unit will provide a deep understanding of the processes underlying the evolution and ecology of host-pathogen interactions and how these affect animal populations and communities and even ecosystems.

Notably in the face of various global change processes, creating sub-optimal conditions for many animals and making them, and the populations, communities and ecosystems of which they form part, more vulnerable to disease, this unit is of great importance to the broad community of animal ecologists. At the same time this unit is also of interest to students of wildlife conservation and management and the (bio-) medical sciences wanting to develop a deeper understanding of why pathogens are around and why they behave the way they do; knowledge of fundamental importance when managing wildlife and endeavouring fighting infectious diseases.

During T2-2020 this unit will be delivered entirely online, using video recordings, web-based presentations, tutorials and (computer) pracs. Group assignments will involve the production and delivery of online powerpoint presentations and a scientific report centred around your self-selected COVID-19 or other (wildlife) disease research project.

A prerequisite for following this unit is general knowledge of animal life and research methods/statistics. As your unit chair, I trust you will find this unit both intellectually stimulating and relevant to your studies in your current course and your future directions as a Deakin graduate.

Intro to disease ecology

Is COVID-19 just as bad as the plague or small pox?

Where does COVID-19 come from?

Will COVID-19 become more virulent over time?

Some key things about transmission

How to manage COVID-19?

Can we avoid this happening again?

Welcome to SLE 354

COVID-19 epidemiology – its past and its possible futures

Integrative ecology symposium with the School of Education

Hi Researchers of the CIE

We would like to invite you to consider this opportunity for you to share your research with wider audiences.  Impact and community engagement are what we are encouraged to consider more and more as academics at Deakin… participating in this project will do both for you.

We invite researchers (at any stage) to join us as we present a public symposium about Integrative Ecology.  The symposium date is the 11th April at Deakin Downtown.  There will be 5 research presentations across the morning session.  Then the public part of the day concludes and lunch will be served to you and the teachers who have offered to stay the full day to continue working.  This work will involve designing and developing teaching and learning sequences for lower secondary science students (years 7 – 10).  We hope that you will stay for the afternoon session to support this process.

A team of Community Science Project students will be supporting this project.  These students will be in touch with you and will facilitate collecting the necessary information prior to the 11th April.  This information may include:

  • A narrative (collected through an interview) regarding the significance of your research
  • A narrative about how you collect data – the methodology/methods of your research
  • Some photos or video of this process would be great (especially if taken in the field) – this will be used to craft video resources to add engagement and interest to the resulting teaching and learning materials.
  • One or two research papers – if you are published in this area.  We would like to design student activities that have them engaging in published science.
  • One or two media articles – if you have any.  This will scaffold students to make accurate judgements about media presentations of science.
  • Some data, if possible… as teachers often find it very hard to access good quality data so they can scaffold student development in learning how to analyse real (secondary) data.

We will also need you to review the final web-based materials once they are generated – towards the end of May.

The process has been designed to be thorough – but not time consuming or onerous for you.

We have successfully worked with several Deakin Scientist previously – check out our materials

Please contact me if you have any questions.

If you would like to be part of this initiative and raise your project’s profile, can you please send an EOI to Peta White by Friday 1st March 2019?


Kind regards,


Peta White (PhD)

Lecturer in Science and Environmental Education

Bachelor of Science/MTeach D304 Course Director

PhD Project: Carbon sequestration potential of seaweeds

Dr Alecia Bellgrove

Image Mel Wells

We are seeking a highly-motivated PhD student to join our DeakinSeaweed research group and Blue Carbon Labfor a project examining the carbon sequestration potential of seaweeds supervised by Dr Alecia Bellgrove, A/Prof. Peter Macreadie and Dr Stacey Trevathan-Tackett.  The project will combine advanced analytical chemistry, seascape ecology, modelling, and environmental microbiology to develop novel biomarkers to search for seaweed carbon within marine sediments, uptake and retention rates of seaweed carbon within marine sediments, and model seaweed carbon export from Australian coasts. The research will help fulfil an important gap in our understanding of the contribution of seaweeds to global blue carbon sequestration.

You must be competitive for a PhD scholarship at Deakin University (currently valued at approximately AU$26,682 per annum) and apply in the upcoming scholarship round (due Thursday 15 March, 2018).  In addition to the PhD stipend, you will be supported with up to $11,200 base-level…

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Lab Member Spotlight: Jess Rowland

Conservation Science

This month at the Conservation Science Lab we’ve started a new initiative! We are doing a ‘member spotlight’, and Jessin this post we’ll be highlighting the achievements of one of our PhD students, Jess Rowland.  Jess is into the second year of her PhD, and her outstanding work over the past few years is culminating in some well-deserved recognition.

Prior to starting her PhD, Jess completed a Master of Science at the University of Melbourne.  Her research aimed to increase our understanding of the thermal properties of nest-boxes compared to tree-hollows to improve conservation-management efforts for our native wildlife under a rapidly changing climate.

Jess has achieved excellent impact with this research, with her paper on this research, ‘Comparing the thermal suitability of nest-boxes and tree-hollows for conservation-management of arboreal marsupials’ inspiring a feature post on science communication blog Sandpaw, and winning Society for Conservation Biology Oceania Best Student…

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ARC Discovery grant successes

We were thrilled to learn last week that CIE members were awarded not one, not two, but THREE Discovery Project grants from the Australian Research Council.

We wish a huge congratulations to Prof Andy Bennett, Dr Mathew Berg, Prof Kate Buchanan, Dr Mylene Mariette, Dr Euan Ritchie and their collaborators on their success. Below is a summary of the three projects that will be hosted by the Centre for Integrative Ecology. Prof John Endler is also an investigator on a UQ-led project titled ‘Unravelling reef fish vision through gene-editing and behavioural ecology’. These prestigious grants are hard-won, with this year’s success rate being just 18.9%.



Leader of the pack: social structure and predator management

  • Dr Euan Ritchie; Professor Elissa Cameron (University of Tasmania); Professor Robbie McDonald (University of Exeter, UK); Professor Darren Croft (University of Exeter, UK); Dr Jose Montoya (Stanford University, USA)
  • $424,824.00
  • This project aims to quantify the importance of the individual in behaviour and social structures when managing social predator populations to protect economic and environmental assets. Using dingoes as a model system this project will characterise social structure and behaviour under varying management scenarios. This information will be embedded within models of ecological networks to examine the effects of disrupting dingo packs on biological communities. The project expects to improve understanding of how behaviour and social interactions influence ecological outcomes, improving conservation and management.

Genomic diversity, tolerance and ecology of wildlife disease

  • Professor Andy Bennett; Professor Soren Alexandersen; Professor Scott Edwards (Harvard University, USA); Dr Mathew Berg
  • $309,762.00
  • This project aims to understand the regulation of viral disease by vertebrate hosts. Viruses are rapidly evolving threats to humans, agriculture and wildlife and understanding of these threats can be transformed by combining the latest genomic, ecological and immune-pathological approaches. This project expects to reveal how hosts manage the bad effects of viruses in natural populations and fill gaps in fundamental knowledge of virus-host evolution. Anticipated benefits include improved management, risk assessment and decision-making for animal disease and biosecurity in Australia and globally.

Revisiting the ontogeny of vocal learning in birds: from neuron to fitness

  • Professor Katherine Buchanan; Dr Mylene Mariette; Professor Robert Dooling (University of Maryland, USA)
  • $393,192.00
  • This project aims to test the hypothesis that acoustic exposure prior to hatching directly affects gene expression, neural development, behaviour and consequently fitness, in wild populations of songbirds. Recent research suggests that animals are receptive to acoustic parental signals long before birth and may use such previously unrecognised signals to make adaptive developmental decisions. This project will quantify the effect on neural development and vocal learning in embryonic birds, employing a model songbird species. The outcomes of this study will transform our understanding of the adaptive potential of prenatal vocal learning, which will have significant benefits for human speech and language development.

CIE Seminar Series 2017 – Surprises from space: evolutionary insights from spatial reasoning

SPEAKER: Dr Ben Phillips, ARC Future Fellow, School of BioSciences, Faculty of Science, University of Melbourne

DATE: Friday, 18th August 2017
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds- room ka4.207
TIME: 1:30pm

Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood – Burwood Corporate Centre (attendees-please report to reception for room details on the day); and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.22

External visitors – wish to join us and connect to our seminars?
External parties may connect to the live seminar via *N SEBE VMP LES Seminars [ID.36958] via the methods listed below:

  • For external guests, you can connect as a web guest by clicking HERE. If using Chrome you it will prompt you to install the Cisco Jaba Plugin, then it will prompt you to download the extension which you will need to install. Once this has been installed, you will have a black screen with a call button. You will just need to click call and it should connect into the VMP.
  • For Deakin staff and students, please join via Skype for Business (Lync) – if you have office installed you may already have Skype for business or Lync installed. You just need to look for it on the start menu. If you find it, you can log into skype using your Deakin email and password and then dial 36958.
  • Could not log in? More info on how to connect is available HERE or HERE.
  • Please note that connection is only available while a seminar is taking place.

As a courtesy, we request that when connecting to the seminar that you mute your microphone unless you are required to speak, this would ensure that the sound from the speaker to the audience is not disrupted by feedback from your microphone – thank you!

ABSTRACT: This is a homily to the role of space in evolution, in three parts.  First I will look at expanding range edges and use the cane toad system to explore the evolutionary implications of range advance.  Second, I will look at geographic variation in a much more stable system.  Using data from climate-relevant traits of a rainforest lizard, I will argue that we can use spatial reasoning to identify when geographic variation is caused by local adaptation (as opposed to plasticity).  Finally, I will head back to the toad system to float an adventurous idea for how we might use evolution to stop their invasion.

BIO: Ben Phillips spent most of the last 12 years working across northern Australia on a range of evolutionary and ecological questions.  Ben has worked on toads, snakes, mammals, beetles, and even simulated organisms. He is particularly interested in how spatial processes change evolutionary and ecological dynamics.  Ben is an ARC Future Fellow and a Senior Lecturer in the School of BioSciences.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via