Receiving the JLTF scholarship allowed for the original PhD aims: to gain an understanding of habitat fragmentation effects on landscape gene flow, neighbourhood relatedness and dispersal patterns of a woodland bird, the grey-crowned babbler, to be realised. Toward the end of my field work, I required approximately $8,000 to complete genetic fingerprinting of 150 grey-crowned babbler blood samples I had collected (no trivial task!!). Right on time, David Gillieson called to tell me the terrific news that my project had been awarded $6,000 from the Jill Landsberg Trust Fund.
The research effort involved in this project has ultimately been maximized through receiving the JLTF and subsequent funding of the completion of genetic fingerprinting. Consequently, two scientific papers highlighting new genetic insights into grey-crowned babbler biology will be published from the PhD thesis. Jill’s legacy is carried on in the greater understanding, and conservation of the grey-crowned babbler. Thank you Jill, deciding committee, and ESA, from me, my research partners/supervisors, and the grey-crowned babblers!
The scholarship was critical to the success of my PhD project. As with many graduate students, I was operating on a shoe-string budget - at least shoe-string for conducting research in Arnhem Land, which imposes all sorts of logistical challenges. In fact, during the field season immediately following receipt of the ESA scholarship, we couldn't afford a vehicle, so my wife and I got dropped off at the estate of our Aboriginal family friends about 150 kilometers past Kakadu for 2 months with a trailer full of food, camping gear and the university sat phone. It was amazing.
The other part of the award that I appreciate immensely was the chance to attend two ESA meetings ("the real ESA" as I joke with my friends here in the states) - and to give a plenary talk at the second one. The research community in Australia is incredibly supportive and welcoming - and with all of my work occurring between Hobart and the Northern Territory, I may not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience this.
Currently, I'm a Specialist in Wildfire Management in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management at the University of Hawaii and coordinator of the Pacific Fire Exchange (PacificFireExchange.org), a knowledge exchange consortium sponsored by the US Joint Fire Science Program. The focus of my work is developing our current understanding of fire ecology in the Pacific Island region and increasing communication and knowledge delivery among the research, land management, and fire response communities.
I was lucky enough to be the recipient of the Jill Landsberg Award in 2008, at the start of my PhD project. As such, the scholarship was pivotal in allowing me to broaden the scope of my project, where I was examining the resources bats utilise in urban landscapes. The scholarship funded two aspects of my project: firstly, it allowed me to purchase equipment to sample nocturnal insects, the prey resource for insect-eating bats; and secondly, it allowed me to radio-track bats during critical periods in their life-cycle, the mating and maternity seasons. These investigations resulted in four peer-reviewed journal publications, examining the ecology and resource use of urban bats, which have been widely cited and utilised by urban land managers and policy makers, including local and state governments.
In addition to funding critical equipment, the JLTF also allowed me to attend two ESA meetings. Having the opportunity to network with ecologists from across Australia at the early stages of my PhD was fantastic, and I something that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to do.
Since completing my PhD in 2012 I have been working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Green Infrastructure Research Group at The University of Melbourne. I currently work on a range of projects quantifying the biodiversity value and ecosystem service benefits of urban green spaces. The aim of these projects is to provide urban land managers with a detailed understanding of the biodiversity values they can influence through simple vegetation management decisions, and recommend ways to restore biodiversity habitat in the urban landscape.
The Jill Landsberg scholarship allowed me to collect additional data on soil nutrients and processes that I would not have otherwise been able to include in my research. This completed the picture of the process of eucalypt decline in my study forests by linking together tree health, soil conditions, fungal communities and altered nutrient cycles. Without this data the story would have been incomplete. The scholarship also broadened my network and confidence as a young scientist by enabling me to meet colleagues, discuss issues and present my work to the ecological community.
For me winning the scholarship helped me to establish my credibility as a researcher and prove aptitude, giving me a competitive advantage for successfully advancing in roles after my PhD. Although I have drifted away from research I have applied my scientific training in all my roles such as in policy research and project management.
I currently work for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. For the last few years I have be managing a project of forest health management to World Heritage Areas and providing technical expertise. I am currently contributing to legislative reviews and I will soon begin working in strategic planning which includes supporting formulation and review of plans of management.