Session C's food, agriculture, and animal and plant biology group "Hill" paid a visit to the Gould Building at ANU to get a tour of the zoology labs and facilities.
The group was greeted by Liam Bailey, a PhD student who has been researching changes in shore birds' behaviour in response to extreme climates. After completing his Bachelor of Environmental Science, his PhD has taken him to Schiemonnikoog in the Netherlands to study the Eurasian oystercatcher. He gave the group an overview of other research being conducted in the labs - from work on brood parasites and hosts, fiddler crabs' mating systems, and climate change and its impact on alpine plants. The following presentations from the PhD students really emphasised how varied zoology research is. The group was particularly interested in the work of Jochen Ziel, who has created a virtual reality system for jumper jack ants, to research how their sense of direction can be applied to robotics and navigational systems.
The first stop on the lab tour was at the skeleton museum, which also houses preserved creatures. Collections such as these are excellent learning resources for students of the ANU, and during the tour, researchers were working on characterising a new species of gecko that had just been brought in from the field.
In the possum lab, researchers were measuring the metabolism requirements of marsupials, and the participants got to say hi to some of the animals in their care. From here, it was a short walk to the fish labs, where PhD students were focusing on the mosquito fish, an invasive species, and the effects of inbreeding. Finally, PhD student Ian Brennan talked to the group on why biology is worth studying, before the participants were able to hang out with blue tongue lizards and pat a python.
To have a look at this research, and everything the Research School of Biology is up to, check out their website: biology.anu.edu.au.
Meg Stegeman, Communications Intern NYSF 2017 Session C and NYSF Alumna 2014