Professor Angela Moles

Professor Angela Moles

Fields of research: Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Biogeography, Plant Biology, Invasive SpeciesEcology
Campus: Kensington
Tags: Expanding Knowledge, Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity

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...

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.

Current Student Projects (PhD and Honours)

Rapid evolution in introduced species – Claire Brandenburger, part-time PhD student

Seed size and seed dispersal – Sichong Chen, PhD studentt

Patterns of colour diversity across communities – Rhiannon Dalrymple, PhD student

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

Fouling on marine macroalgae – Jacinta Green, PhD student joint supervised with Prof. Peter Steinberg

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

Location

Room 410, Biological Sciences Building (D26)

Contact

+61 2 9385 8302
+61 2 9385 1558

Videos

Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year 2013
  • Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year 2013 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year 2013
  • Our Relationship with Weeds: Angela Moles at TEDxSydney Our Relationship with Weeds: Angela Moles at TEDxSydney
  • Grand Challenge Lecture at QUT, 2014 Grand Challenge Lecture at QUT, 2014
  • Angela Moles, L'ORÉAL fellow 2008 Angela Moles, L'ORÉAL fellow 2008

Research Activities

The World Herbivory Project

The World Herbivory Project

I established 75 study sites in natural ecosystems all around the world, including rainforest in the Congo, China and Peru; desert in Israel and Arizona; tundra in Patagonia, Alaska and Greenland, and savanna in Zambia, South Africa and Australia.

Rapid evolution in introduced species

Rapid evolution in introduced species

My ARC-funded work on rapid evolution in introduced species.

The Christmas Tree Project

The Christmas Tree Project

This project was part of the awesome CSIRO Scientists in Schools scheme.