I’m passionate about my family, research, teaching, supervising postgraduate students, and working towards improved equity.
I did my undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Australia: BSc(Hons) and BA at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Zoology, Geography and Gender Studies. My Honours project investigated mating behaviour and sex pheromones in the orb-web spider Argiope keyserlingii. My PhD in Biology at Macquarie University was supervised by Marie Herberstein and explored pollination by sexual deception in Australia’s amazing Cryptostylis orchids.
After a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the USA at Cornell University with Robert Raguso investigating early spring-blooming winered flowers, I joined the faculty at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland in New Zealand in 2010.
My research focusses on behavioural ecology and sensory ecology, especially the evolution of orchids and the pollinators, how plants can use signals to fool animals, and how people can use animals’ natural communication behaviour for conservation.
I teach both animal behaviour and plant diversity, with lots of plant-animal interactions and evolution. At first year level, I want to share a love of nature, inspire students about the possibilities of a career in animal behaviour and ecology, and promote conservation. At second and third years, I emphasise critical thinking and career skills like developing and testing hypotheses, interpreting data and scientific writing. In my postgrad course, I ask students to take the first steps towards becoming independent researchers by engaging with practical skills including public speaking and preparing manuscripts for publication.
I aim to mentor my Hons, MSc and PhD students to become high-level independent academics with a strong suite of skills and strategies for success, including work-life balance.
I support Kindness in Science Aotearoa, I’m a Faculty of Science Equity representative (Te Ara Tautika) and I’m building a page of ecology research and teaching equity resources.