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Message from the HoD
Dear all,

This week, we bid a fond farewell to Phil Dartnell who is leaving us for pastures new. Phil has been standing in for Caitlin while she was on maternity leave and has done an outstanding job in her absence, particularly through the craziness of COVID and the curriculum restructure. A big thankyou to Phil on behalf of the Department for his dedication and professionalism, not to mention being an all-round nice chap!

Unfortunately, this week we lament the passing of Ron Oldfield. I never got to meet Ron, but Alison Downing and colleagues have written a touching and informative tribute that we have included in Department Matters this week. Ron made a very substantial contribution to the development and success of Biological Sciences at Macquarie and I am sure he will be greatly missed by all that knew him.


Nathan Hart

Save the Date

This Coming Week

Tues 4th May: 1-2 pm; Monthly Dept Meeting; Biology Tearoom – 14ER 280 tearoom

Wed 5th May, 1-2 pm: Biological Sciences seminar; Zoom link will be emailed out.

Future Events
7th June: L&T retreat – save the date
8th – 9th June: HDR Conference – save the date

General News and Announcements

Admin notices 

Biology Admin team has relocated for the next few weeks to 7 Wally’s Walk ground floor (FSE offices).The best way to communicate with us is via email or by calling the team members extension. You can also set an appointment directly with the person you want to see. When you come to 7WW ground level, please call the extension numbers listed near the foyer phone.
Security concerns with after hours access: due to recent incidents, if you are entering Uni buildings after hours by swipe-card access, please do not allow unknown person to enter after you.
Travel: all travel, including fieldwork, must have Absence on Duty (AoD) submitted at least 2 weeks in advance of travel dates; this allows time for approvals and bookings. If you see the error ‘Disallowed Key Characters’, try deleting your browser cookies and logging in again.
Flu shots – book in for your free staff seasonal influenza vaccine, booking are open now with vaccinations commencing in May. More information can be found at the following link –

Call for Expressions of Interest – Faculty of Science and Engineering Nominations to the Committees of Academic Senate (ASQC and SLTC)

FSE staff are invited to submit an expression of interest for the following positions on the Committees of Academic Senate: 


Category of membership  

New term of office 

Current member 

Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC) 

Faculty staff member nominated by the Faculty Board 

1 July 2021 to 30 June 2023 

Dr Ian Jamie 

Senate Learning and Teaching Committee (SLTC) 

Faculty staff member nominated by the Faculty Board 

1 July 2021 to 30 June 2023 

Dr Kerrie Tomkins 

 Nomination process

Each nominee is invited to submit a statement of up to 150 words with their expression of interest. Nominations are welcomed from all Faculty staff and are not restricted to Faculty Board members.  All nominations should be submitted to, by 5 pm on Monday, 3 May 2021

 Role of the Faculty Board

  • The Faculty Board will be asked to endorse/vote on the nominations via circular resolution, by Friday, 7 May 2021
  • Endorsed nominations will be provided by the Faculty Board Secretariat to the Chair of Academic Senate and Academic Senate Standing Committee for approval. 

 Any questions about the roles can be address to Lucy Forshaw, Governance Officer, Governance Services

5.2 FSE Representatives on Academic Senate Committees

Ron Oldfield, sadly passed away last week

Friends and colleagues will be saddened to hear that Ron Oldfield passed away peacefully on 25th April, 2021. His funeral will be held on Friday, 7 May 2021, 10.30 am at Macquarie Park Cemetery & Crematorium, Macquarie Park. 
Over many years, Ron made a remarkable contribution to the Department of Biological Sciences. He was an integral part of the department from the very beginning of the university in the 1960s, until his retirement which must have been about 2000.  He continued as an honorary, until ill health caught up with him about 4 years ago.
Vale Ronald Jowett Oldfield 1933 – 2021 tribute

New University Dive Officer – Jane Mitchell

Meet, greet and have lunch with Macquarie’s new University Dive Officer, Jane Mitchell. 4th of May at 12 noon. Bring your lunch and meet at the Biology courtyard.

Suchitra Patki Farewell Card

Staff and students at Biology around mid-2017 may remember Suchitra Patki. She was seconded to help Biology administration during the FSE administration restructure.

 It turns out she’s starting a new, undisclosed venture, outside of Macquarie University and a digital farewell card and gift contribution is being arranged. Click on the link below, if you were lucky enough to receive Suchitra’s help.

Promote your research group on Dept’s YouTube channel
The Department of Biological Sciences YouTube Channel currently has eleven ~2-min videos by different research groups (thanks to Prasanth for excellent editing and for adding branding). Videos are also linked on the MQ website. Contact Martin Whiting if you would like to contribute a video. 

We want your plant snaps!

The Which Plant Where team is currently on the hunt for high quality images of any street trees and garden plants that you have. If you would like to contribute please let Samiya know at


Nature Conservation Council’s 2021 Bushfire Conference

 Tuesday 4th, Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th May – Online
Field Day 4th June – Face-to-face – GET TICKETS HERE

Join us next Tuesday for the eagerly awaited Nature Conservation Council of NSW’s 2021 Bushfire Conference. Speakers include leading academics, practitioners, Traditional Owners, and decision-makers such as:

  • Former Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW Greg Mullins
  • Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean
  • Emeritus Professor and author Bill Gammage
  • Bhiamie Willamson
  • Professor Andrew Bennett
  • Professor David Lindenmayer
  • Dr Mark Ooi 
  • and many more

Government tender for Species Expert Assessment Plans (SEAPs) project

SEAPs Project – Request for Tender – Applications close 17 May 2021.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has put out a Request for Tender around Species Expert Assessment Plans (SEAPs) for species and ecological communities:

Other relevant documents are listed on the AusTender site. Rachael Gallagher can provide advice to anyone interested.

Looking for volunteers?
Want some help with your research or fieldwork? Contact Jenny Ghabache for the list of people that have registered their interest in doing volunteer work in our Dept.
Online volunteer application form
This is to be completed any time volunteers are brought onboard. The online form will require the volunteer to have their documents and work details ready to input – see attached PDF below for guidance and for the link to submit.
When a form is submitted, an email will come to the supervisor for approval, and they will then send it on to the admin team. 


Volunteer form information Biological Sciences – see attached for details. If you have questions, please contact


You are invited the next Applied BioSciences seminar on Tuesday, 11 May at 11am. The seminar will be delivered online using Zoom.
Our special guest Distinguished Professor Jaime Pinero, Extension Associate Professor at the University of Massachusets. Please see the attached brochure for more information.
Seminar title:
How research on insect sensory ecology has led to improved attract-and-kill systems for tephritid fruit flies
Zoom link:

The ARC Centre for Fruit Fly Biosecurity Innovation would like to invite you to join our fourth online seminar of 2021 on Wednesday, May 19 at 9 am (Sydney time – AEST).
In this occasion, our special guest will be Dr María Teresa Vera from Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and Facultad de Agronomía y Zootecnia, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán (Argentina).
Seminar title:
Are we what we eat? What, how and when? Anastrepha fraterculus brings its story
Please register in advance using the following link:
You will receive instructions on how to join the seminar after your registration is completed.

Introduction to the Tidyverse

We recorded this workshop last year and invite you to watch the recording in your own time, and then join us for an hour of Q and A.

Bring along your tidyverse issues or any questions you have about the tidyverse in general. Post a question on our slack channel beforehand to increase the chances of getting a good answer:

Pre-recorded workshop:

Make sure you download a zip file of all the workshop material before you watch the video (download from green button called “code”).  There are 3 files to open:

  • a powerpoint (.ppt) – open in PowerPoint – go through this first up to slide 23.. and this is where the video starts.  
  • .rmd file – open this in RStudio
  • Video link – on your browser. The video starts quite abruptly, so you’ll need to have the other two files open before you start the video.

Q & A session:

Date: Thursday 6th May  

Time: 3-4pm

Venue: Zoom meeting – please register for this workshop here.  This will ask you to register and then you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the meeting.

Molecular Sciences Seminars

Tue 5th May: Sara Hamzelou (PhD student), Proteomics of rice in response to drought stress. 1 pm to 2 pm, 4WW 322 or

Rescheduled Tue 25th May: Shane R Ellis – Mapping region-specific biochemistry using advanced mass spectrometry imaging technologies.

The COMBINE (Australian Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Student Society) is holding the below workshop for students, can we advertise this in your mailing list please? Registration deadline is at the end of next Monday (03/05/2021) AEST and the workshop runs on Tuesday and Thursday next week.

What: Introduction to Python Workshop May 2021

When: Day 1: 04/05/2021 – 1100-1500 AEST / 0100-0500 UTC (click here for your local time zone)

Day 2: 06/05/2021 – 1100-1500 AEST / 0100-0500 UTC (click here for your local time zone)

Where: Online via zoom 


For more information or to stay up to date with COMBINE events please join our mailing list and slack channels.

Mock Interviews

Mock Interviews: Interviewing for jobs can be challenging. Over the last few years, we have been offering mock-interviews for Students, Postdocs and Casual staff who have been shortlisted for one. If you are shortlisted for an interview and would like to do a mock before the real deal, please email Ajay [] with relevant information [job description, application, mode of the interview – online or in person]. We will put together a relevant panel to help you prepare for your interview.

Venture Café – will be convening their community online, via Zoom, and offering the #ThursdayGathering programming in a Virtual format.

For more information visit:


HDR – Grants

Society for Conservation Biology (Oceania)  best student paper and impact award 
$500 will be awarded for impact on conservation policy or practice (including public outreach and science communication). For the best paper award, you must be a society member to be considered. SCBO nominations can be made online, and close 10 May 2021. 

Forrest Research Foundation – postdoctoral fellowships in WA
Must be in final year of a PhD, or no more than 2 years post-PhD; must already have an offer of a position at a Western Australian university. Fellowship includes a salary contribution, accommodation allowance up to $21,000 pa and once-off $13,000 re-location allowance. See details and apply through Forrest websitecloses 16 May 2021. 

Society for Conservation Biology Graduate Student Research Fellowship
Award (not specified) will go towards fieldwork costs; register on SCB website to applycloses 18 May 2021. 

Gottstein Trust – fellowships and awards in forestry
See Gottstein website. They have a few different awards, but in particular offer up to $5000/year for up to 3 years for PhD and Masters students working in wood or forest science, for “living and education-related costs”. The whole trust is very industry-focused. Applications close 9 am on 20 May 2021. 

Nature Foundation SA – grants and scholarship
Early Career Nature Scientists grants (up to $3000), PhD/Masters Grand Start grants ($3000 x up to 3 years) and one Research Project grant (up to $15,000) are available for research costs (particularly conservation), or travel for a conference or lab visit. Apply via Nature Foundation website; closes 2 May 2021.
NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarships
To support PhD or Masters degrees in public health, medical sciences, and “basic science research”. Applicants must be Aus or NZ citizens, or Aus permanent residents. Apply via; closes 9 June 2021. 

Shut Up & Write online with Digital Health CRC
When: Mondays 5:45pm-8:15pm AEDT, Tuesdays 11:45am-2:15pm AEDT

Green Talents Competition 2021: call for applications is now open!

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has held the prestigious “Green Talents – International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development” to promote the international exchange of ideas regarding green solutions since 2009. The award, whose patron is Minister Anja Karliczek, honours 25 young researchers from around the world each yearwho are engaged in excellent interdisciplinary work on environmental topics. The winners come from various scientific disciplines and are recognised for their outstanding achievements in making our societies more sustainable. The call is open to all disciplines.

Applications close 19 May 2021.

The Green Talents are selected by a high-ranking jury of German experts and are granted unique access to the country’s leading sustainability researchers and scientists. This includes:

  • An invitation to a multi-day Virtual Science Forum in October 2021 with “Science sessions” with leading German sustainability facilities, institutions and companies, which will virtually provide exclusive insights into their leading-edge research and projects.
  • A chance to present themselves and their work in virtual one-on-one discussions held as part of individual appointments with experts of their choice (during the Virtual Science Forum).
  • An invitation to Germany in 2022 for a fully funded research stay of up to three months. At an inspiring location of their choice, the Green Talents will gain new experiences and advance their professional careers while establishing long-lasting partnerships.
  • Exclusive access to the “Green Talents network” of currently 282 high potentials in sustainable development from over 72 countries.

Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Enrolment in a Master’s or PhD programme OR a degree (Master’s/PhD) completed no more than three years before the end of the application process
  • Strong focus on sustainable development and an interdisciplinary approach realising the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • No more than three years of professional work experience (this excludes professional work experiences gained within the scope of an academic degree)
  • Proven excellent command of English
  • Significantly above-average grades
  • Not a German citizen nor a resident of Germany (individuals, therefore, not eligible to apply: German passport holders as well as anyone living in Germany at the time of application even if the residence is temporary)

For more information please refer to the competition’s website

Forms processing – send to below, NOT directly to Nathan, etc.

For timely processing of forms, e.g. enrolment, leave, etc.:
PhD: send pdfs to – Julian will arrange signature and send it on.
MRes: send to – Ajay or Matt Kosnik will sign and send on.


Ally Network News
Upcoming LGBTQ+ awareness sessions (online) – step 1 of becoming an Ally, or for a refresher: 
For step 2, on-campus training, visit the Ally Network SharePoint to register an expression of interest.
Western Sydney University + Pride in Diversity Inclusion Summit – 29 April 2021

Yarn in the tea room
A new cache of yarn has been dropped off at the back of the Biology tea room, for those interested in knitting during the weekly seminars (or just to take home). There are assorted colours and textures, including some multi-coloured yarns. Enjoy!

Be COVID Safe – clean meeting rooms after use
Please be reminded to clean meeting rooms, such as the Tearooms after use. This includes wiping down surfaces and used equipment like computers and keyboard.
Please do your part to look after the health of the University.

Outreach Activities

Have You Participated in an Activity for Biology Recently? Don’t forget to fill in the super-quick form here – ACCESS OUTREACH FORM HERE

Call out for Social Media Content
We are looking to feature a different student each week on the Biology Social Media accounts. If you would like to share your research or fieldwork with the public, please send photos and a short blurb about your work to Jenny Ghabache: <>

Correct Method for Submitting to Department Matters

Department Matters submissions now have their own email address. Please send all your news items for the newsletter to <>

Have You Missed Out on an Issue of Department Matters? Back issues can be found at this newsletter archive link for your reading pleasure.

New Publications

Highly diverse and highly successful: invasive Australian acacias have not experienced genetic bottlenecks globally

By: Vicente, Sara, Cristina Máguas, David M. Richardson, Helena Trindade, John RU Wilson, and Johannes J. Le Roux. Annals of Botany (2021) | Find with Google Scholar »

Common dolphins form unexpected strong social bonds: insights into social plasticity of delphinids

By: Mason, Suzanne, Chandra Salgado Kent, and Kerstin Bilgmann. Marine Mammal Science | Find with Google Scholar »

In the Media

ABC News
Distinguished Professor Lesley Hughes was interviewed about the government’s emissions target.

Read more »

ABC NewsRadio
Distinguished Professor Lesley Hughes was interviewed regarding the 2019-2020 bushfires.

Read more »

Dr Vanessa Pirotta was interviewed about Migaloo the white whale.

Read more »

Dr Alessandro Ossola provided comment about preventing birds flying into buildings to ABC news

Read more »

Recent Completions