Past lab members

Katie Berthon

Katie worked as a research assistant looking at the ecological impact of the invasive Myrtle rust fungus. She will use a combination of spatial analysis techniques, glasshouse trials and field studies to identify species or communities most at risk and inform management strategies.

Christina Birnbaum [Christina’s website]

Christina completed her PhD looking at the role of soil biota in the invasion success of legumes in Australia

Haiyan Bu 

Haiyan’s research interests are in seed ecology. She has worked on seed size and germination of common plant in the alpine meadows on the eastern Qinghai-Tibet plateau. She was in PIREL from June 2013-June 2014 to undertake research on seed buoyancy and on smoke-promoted germination. She has now returned to Lanzhou University, China

Adele Calandra

Adele completed her Masters thesis in 2008

Julia Cooke [Julia’s website]

Julia completed her PhD on ‘The Functional Ecology of Plant Silicon’ in 2012, supervised by Michelle Leishman.  She is now a Lecturer in Ecology at The Open University in the UK.

Paul Downey [Paul’s website]

Paul Downey was a Visiting Research Fellow at Macquarie University and associated with PIREL for a number of years until 2011 when he became an assistant Professor at the University of Canberra. Paul works on the the protection of native species from weed invasion, understanding the impact of weeds on native species and weeds and climate change.

Daisy Englert Duursma 
Daisy is a bioclimatic modeller and worked on habitat suitability of exotic plants in Australia under future climates and the development of the website.

Laura Fernandez Winzer

Laura completed her PhD looking at the impacts of Myrtle rust on Australian plants and vegetation.

Rachael Gallagher [Rachael’s website]

Rachael’s research interests include climate change adaptation, invasive species and the functional traits of climbing plants. She now has a Macquarie University Research Fellowship to work with Ian Wright’s lab but continues to collaborate with PIREL members.

Ina Geedicke

Ina completed her PhD looking at the anthropogenic impacts on mangrove and saltmarsh communities in eastern Australia.

Wendy Grimm

Wendy completed her MPhil looking at the biology and ecology of Genoplesium baueri R. Br., an endangered terrestrial orchid endemic to New South Wales, Australia.

Guyo Gufu

Guyo completed his PhD looking at the effects of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and nutrient enrichment on freshwater plant species.

Nola Hancock [Nola’s website]

Nola’s PhD research investigated the role of local adaptation in restoration ecology under climate change, with reference to provenance in bush regeneration. She is now working on developing guidelines for species translocation under climate change within the Office of Environment & Heritage Terrestrial Biodiversity Hub at Macquarie Uni.

Carla Harris

Carla explored the role of seedbank and seed rain dynamics (such as seed density, germination and seedling establishment) in the successful rehabilitation of riparian zones in the Lower Hunter. This was a multi-disciplinary collaboration with the Department of Environment and Geography, as well as the Hunter Central Rivers CMA.

Marnie Innis

Marnie completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Macquarie University in 2008 with Honours under the supervision of Dr. Michelle Leishman, running plant growth experiments in the glasshouse to determine growth strategies of native and exotic invasive plants of the Cumberland Plain Woodland, and whether disturbed conditions favour the growth of either vegetation type.

Garreth Kyle

Garreth Kyle completed his PhD thesis in 2008. His PhD research was part of a larger rehabilitation project known as the Upper Hunter River Rehabilitation Initiative (UHRRI) that focused on an 8 km study reach near Muswellbrook in the Upper Hunter Valley. His research was concerned with the comparative ecology of native and exotic species in relation to a fluvial processes, and more specifically riparian disturbance.

Claire Laws

Claire worked on a NSW Adaptation Research Hub project looking at climate change extinction risk to threatened species and ecological communities in NSW. Her broader interests include biodiversity conservation in the face of global change and management of invasive species.

James Lawson

James completed his PhD looking at how riparian vegetation might respond to changing hydrological regimes under future climates. He did fieldwork throughout eastern New South Wales, looking at variation in the composition of functional traits in riparian vegetation communities across hydrological gradients.

Tanja Lenz  [Tanja’s website]

Tanja worked on a research project looking at the efficacy of glyphosate under elevated CO2.

Anna Maria Llorens

Anna Maria completed her Honours degree in Biological Sciences in 2003. She investigated the diversity of vines’ climbing strategies among natives and exotics, their structural characteristics, success in reaching favourable light conditions and impacts on regenerating structural hosts in an endangered Blue Gum High forest remnant in Sydney. After working on Barro Colorado Island on leaf mechanical and chemical defences in relation to other plant traits, she completed a Masters in Ecology, Biodiversity and Evolution in Paris, France in 2005. She is currently working for the “Institut Français de la Biodiversité”, Véolia Water and the “Ecole des Mines de Paris” investigating ecological engineering solutions to reduce the impacts of water treatment on a lake biodiversity and surrounding ecosystem functions.

Jessica O’Donnell

Jess’ PhD research focused on soil and sediment seed banks in riparian environments. She is particularly interested in interactions between river geomorphology, flow regimes, seed banks and vegetation assemblages, and how these evolve in concert.

Tatjana Schmidt

Tatjana completed her Honours thesis with Michelle for her degree at Philipps-Universitat Marburg, Germany in 2004 with a project entitled “Assessing the success of riparian re-vegetation plantings: regeneration in the Upper Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia”. After a year back in Germany, Tatjana has returned to Australia and worked in the lab on a casual basis. She also worked for a bush regeneration company in Sydney and as a project leader for International Student Volunteers and later Conservation Volunteers Australia.

Vivien Thomson

Vivien worked as a research assistant for Michelle Leishman in 2001-2003 on projects on weed invasion into natural ecosystems.

Ifeanna Tooth

Ifeanna completed her Masters degree by research in 2012. She explored the effects of climate change on weeds. She used a field experiment at Mount Annan Botanic Garden measuring plots of native and exotic plants and two glasshouse experiments to look at the effects elevated levels of CO2 have on the growth and post-fire resprouting response of native and weedy grasses.

Peter Tung

Peter completed an Honours project with Michelle Leishman in 2001 entitled ‘The effect of disturbances on Cumberland Plain Woodland: soil characteristics and invasive plant distribution’. Different disturbance types were assessed for their impact on soil attributes and the success of exotic plants in the endangered (TSC Act 95) Cumberland Plain Woodland (CPW) ecological community, located in Western Sydney, N.S.W. Three disturbance types were looked at: (i) landuse – grazed, cleared / grazed, uncleared / ungrazed; (ii) creeks with developed catchments; and (iii) roads – sealed and unsealed. Peter was then employed as the Marine Fieldwork Manager at Macquarie University.

Daniel Whaite

Dan completed his Honours/Masters degree in 2004, with a project entitled ‘Potential for Restoration of Long-Sheep-Grazed Grassy Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) Woodlands in the Megalong Valley, Blue Mountains’. The project assessed spatial and temporal differences in native and exotic species vegetation and soil seed bank composition across four different property land-units and how this related to pre-agricultural compositions. The soil seed bank was also treated with several fire-related cues to assess their usefulness to restoration management. After a short period working within the Bushland and Biodiversity team at Hornsby Shire Council he then worked as the Western Sydney Project Manager for environmental restoration company ‘Toolijooa’.


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