I am interested in developing conservation and restoration solutions from studying plant adaptation and community ecology.
Examples of questions that I work on include:
1. How can the study of adaptation of plants help improve seed collection and species choice practices for ecological restoration?
2. Can we develop restoration Key Performance Indicators using rapid, cost-efficient environmental DNA approaches?
3. How do we best improve pollination services in and around native and restored landscapes?
I explore these questions with observational, experimental and theoretical approaches, combining traditional ecology and forestry approaches together with novel next generation sequencing. Within the Lowe lab Group I chair the Adaptation for Conservation and Restoration group, which brings together a broad range of people, including undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers.
I completed my PhD in Plant Molecular and Restoration Genetics at the University of Adelaide in 2013, supervised by Prof Andy Lowe, Dr Kym Ottewell and Dr Michael Gardner. I showed that pollen diversity matters; it could have fitness effects over and above those of inbreeding, establishing a new paradigm for studying gene flow and mating systems of plants. I achieved this by the integration of population genetics with common garden trials. I proposed the ‘constrained inbreeding hypothesis’ to explain these pollen diversity effects.
Experimental trials were embedded into restoration projects and I worked closely with a number of partner organisations to achieve this (like AWC, TFL, GA, SAWater). This has led to many productive discussions and further experiments about how to optimally seed source under today’s conditions, leading to some interesting findings: like these, these, these, or these.
After completing my PhD, I did a postdoc with Prof Jon Ågren at Uppsala University, Sweden (2013-2014). I used quantitative genetic and next-generation sequencing methods to explore the genetic basis and adaptive significance of traits in the model system Arabidopsis thaliana. Adaptive traits included leaf hairs and the root microbiome.
I returned as a postdoc to the Lowe Lab Group in 2014 to start my current activities, recently supported by my DECRA and Discovery projects on plant adaptation, conservation and restoration.
I teach into undergraduate and postgraduate courses on evolutionary processes, conservation and restoration on an ad hoc basis.
My current role also includes student supervision. I have open opportunities for PhD, Hns, undergraduate students – contact me if you are interested!
Outside of work I enjoy growing my Type II Fun archive…
such as riding the gravity fed (and peddle power) Tour de Mt Blanc….
or hiking the south coast track in Tassie…
or watching the 2015 Ashes…