Travelling fellowship and conference awardees announced

November 30, 2021
A colony of bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) in a crevice in the granite boulders on Mount Gingera, where Dr Caley has been monitoring bogong moth populations. Photo: Sophie De Meyer.

The Academy has recently announced the recipients of three travelling fellowship and conference awards for the 2022 and 2022–23 rounds.

Kick-starting research into complex climate

The 2022–23 Fenner Conference on the Environment has been awarded to organisers Dr Nina Nadine Ridder, Research Associate at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes at UNSW Sydney and Dr Angela Maharaj, President of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS). Their proposed conference is titled ‘Compound events in Australia – strategic planning for multivariate risk’.

The conference aims to brings researchers, government, emergency services, insurers and key industries together to create a plan to study compound events, which are caused by the interaction of multiple weather and climate related hazards or drivers.

“Compound events are behind some of the most devastating disasters in the past decades,” the organisers said in their application.

“They can have severe socio-economic and ecological impacts.”

The Fenner Conferences, supported by a bequest from the late Professor Frank Fenner FAA FRS and his wife Mrs Bobbie Fenner, are intended to bring together those with relevant scientific, administrative and policy expertise to consider current environmental and conservation problems in Australia.

Observing Earth from bedrock to treetop

The 2022–23 Elizabeth and Frederick White Research Conference has been award to Associate Professors Sally Thompson and Talitha Santini from the University of Western Australia. Their conference is titled ‘Crafting a science agenda for critical zone research in Australia’.

The concept of a 'critical zone' considers a vertical slice of Earth’s surface, extending from bedrock to the top of plant canopies, as a single, integrated, life-sustaining system.

It uses biological, ecological, chemical, geomorphological, global change, land surface modelling and atmospheric sciences to study of Earth’s life-sustaining ‘skin’ and has been studied for the past two decades in Europe, Asia and the US.

“There is an urgent need to develop an Australian Critical Zone Science research agenda and research network,” the organisers say in their application.

“The recent foundation of five critical zone observatories (CZOs) in Australia provides a new richness of physical infrastructure, [but] it must be activated by scientists choosing to build research around it, and to use the data it generates.”

The Elizabeth and Frederick White Research Conferences, established by Lady White MBBS and the late Sir Frederick White FAA FRS, are meant to introduce new aspects or directions into earth sciences, space sciences and astronomy, advancing the understanding of these subjects.

Both the White and Fenner conferences are funded annually, with applications for the 2023–24 rounds opening in early 2022.

Tour to protect the bogong moth

The 2022 Graeme Caughley Travelling Fellowship has been awarded to Dr Peter Caley, a research scientist with CSIRO's Data61, to allow him to deliver lectures in Sweden and New Zealand.

His work has included elucidating the role of wildlife in the epidemiology of bovine tuberculosis in New Zealand, highlighting the effect of social distancing on the dynamics of pandemic diseases in humans, and providing reliable inference for invasion risk analysis and pest eradication programs.

Dr Peter Caley, recipient of the 2022 Graeme Caughley Travelling Fellowship

Dr Caley's lectures will examine how Dr Graeme Caughley's body of work can be applied to contemporary issues in wildlife research and management, including the decline in bogong moth numbers and interpreting predictions based on species distribution models.

He will speak at Lund University in Sweden and several institutions on the South Island of New Zealand.

“[Caughley] emphasised the importance of correctly diagnosing the causes of population decline,” said Dr Caley in his application.

“His research [...] provides the building blocks for exploring how variation rainfall and present-day herbivore densities may be impacting on bogong moth populations, and the design of experiments to test hypotheses of factors driving the decline.”

The Graeme Caughley Travelling Fellowship is offered every two years to an ecologist in Australia or New Zealand, with the purpose of sharing their expertise outside the Fellow’s own country. The Fellowship commemorates the work of Dr G.J. Caughley FAA in ecology and wildlife management. It is financed through the generosity of his friends and colleagues.

Two other travelling fellowships, the Selby Fellowship and the Rudi Lemberg Travelling Fellowship, were not awarded in this round.

Applications for the Academy’s travelling fellowships will re-open in early 2022.

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