Researcher

Professor Angela Moles

Field of Research (FoR)

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Biography

ABOUT ME

 

Biography

I lead the Big Ecology Lab, in the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences. My primary research goal is to quantify the ecological strategies employed by plant species in different environments, and to better understand the selective processes underlying global patterns in ecological strategy.

Education

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education (learning and...view more

ABOUT ME

 

Biography

I lead the Big Ecology Lab, in the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences. My primary research goal is to quantify the ecological strategies employed by plant species in different environments, and to better understand the selective processes underlying global patterns in ecological strategy.

Education

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education (learning and teaching), Macquarie University, 2006
  • PhD in Ecology, Macquarie University, 2004
  • BSc(hons), majoring in Botany and Ecology, Victoria University of Wellington, 1997

 

RESEARCH

 

My Research Goals

  • To quantify global scale patterns in ecology
  • To understand how present-day climate shapes the ways plants grow and reproduce
  • To understand the advantages of sexual vs clonal reproduction
  • To understand the ecology and evolution of introduced species

My Research in Detail

My students and I use a combination of field work and synthesis of data from the literature to quantify large scale patterns in ecology. We use controlled glasshouse conditions to study rapid evolution in introduced species, and we use herbarium and museum specimens to study plants and animals from the past. We collaborate with ecologists from all around the world, and with researchers from a range of other disciplines including geography, climate science, and statistics.

Student Projects (PhD and Honours)

Current students

Claire Brandenburger (PhD student) - Rapid evolution in introduced species

Floret Meredith, PhD student - Herbivory and plant defences on mainlands vs islands

Susan Everingham (PhD student) - Effects of climate change on Australian plants

Alexander Sentinella (PhD student) - Which plant species are most vulnerable to climate change?

Coen Romalis (hons student) - Development of reproductive isolation in introduced Arctotheca populifolia

Neil Ross (honours student) - Why do spinifex hummocks form fairy rings?

Karen Zeng (honours student) - Can we predict which species will change their flowering time?

Zoe Xirocostas (honours student) - How sex chromosomes affect lifespan

 

Past students

Sichong Chen (PhD) Seed size and seed dispersal. Now a postdoc at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

Rhiannon Dalrymple (PhD) - Patterns of colour diversity across communities. Now Program Director at Spark-Y Youth Action Labs, Minnesota, USA.

Jacinta Green (PhD) - Fouling on marine macroalgae. Now Parramatta River Riverkeeper

Ecological processes underlying rapid evolution in Arctotheca populifolia – Stephanie Creer, honours student

Herbivory on introduced vs native populations of Arctotheca populifolia – Martin Kim, honours student

Supervision Opportunities/Areas

I would love to talk to potential PhD students who are interested in working on projects in large scale ecology, or who have exciting ideas of their own.

Advice for prospective students

The Big Ecology Lab is a very collaborative group, with really wide-ranging interests. As a student in the Big Ecology lab, you’re expected to get involved with as many things as possible. For instance, you might attend a weekly discussion group, present work at conferences, help your labmates out (with fieldwork, figuring out the answers to difficult questions, and with moral support), do some undergrad teaching, go to seminars, talk science with other staff/students in the department, and come out for beer sometimes. This all takes up time; but it's this sort of stuff that makes being a grad student fun.

If you are a PhD or MSc student, I think it is best if you can come up with your own research topic (after all, you’re going to be thinking about this topic a lot for the next 2-4 years – it might as well be something you really care about). However, I will work with you to make sure that you end up with something that’s going to be achievable, scientifically sound AND interesting. I’m open to a wide range of project topics. BSc(hons) students – I realise you might not have a clear idea of what you want to work on yet, and that’s perfectly ok. I will be really happy to talk about your ideas for research; but if you can’t come up with anything, I do have a list of project ideas that I think will be both manageable and interesting.

The single most important thing you should do while choosing a supervisor is to talk to their past/present students and ask what it’s like in their lab. Come and talk to us all.

 

TEACHING & OUTREACH

 

Courses I teach

BIOS3061: Plant Ecology

BIOS2051: Flowering Plants (from 2015)

Professional affiliations and service positions

I am the Vice President (in charge of student affairs) of the Ecological Society of Australia.

I am an active participant in Scientists in Schools, and have run workshops for children at the Powerhouse Museum

I am a jury member for the L’Oreal for Women in Science Fellowship scheme, and was a judge for FameLab

I regularly give public talks (e.g. Nerd NiteroLinnean Society of NSW, TEDxSydney)

 

AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS

2014: Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence - Postgraduate Research Supervision.

2013: Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year

2012: NSW science and engineering award for Excellence in Biological Sciences (Plant, Agriculture and Environment)

2011: Australian Museum Eureka Award for Outstanding Young Researcher

2011: Included in The (Sydney) Magazine list of the 100 most influential people in NSW

2010: Edgeworth David Medal, Royal Society of New South Wales (awarded to a scientist under the age of 35 for work contributing to the advancement of Australian science)

2009: JG Russell Award (awarded to one QEII fellow each year by the Australian Academy of Science)

2008: NSW Tall Poppy Award (awarded by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science for outstanding scientific research and communication)

2008: L’Oreal/UNESCO for Women in Science Fellowship


My Expertise

Plant ecology, seeds, global patterns in plant growth

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Location

Room 410, Biological Sciences Building (D26)

Contact

+61 2 9385 8302
+61 2 9385 1558

Publications

by Professor Angela Moles

Videos

Grand challenge lecture at QUT in 2014
Video made when I received a L'Oreal for Women in Science Fellowship in 2008
My talk at 2012 TEDxSydney - about how introduced species are evolving, and whether we will eventually accept them as new native species.
Grand Challenge Lecture at QUT, 2014
Angela Moles, L'ORÉAL fellow 2008
Our Relationship with Weeds: Angela Moles at TEDxSydney
Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year 2013