Conserving the indigenous bee biodiversity of Australia
I'm a native bee ecologist, and I am dedicated to discovering, describing, and conserving the indigenous bee biodiversity of Australia. I have determined the most effective means of monitoring native bees, optimal bee hotel design, conducted biodiversity surveys across diverse habitats, from urban areas, to agricultural crop habitats, to Traditional Land Owner lands, to nurseries, residential gardens, and important parks and reserves. In doing so, I have revealed the incredible biodiversity of native bees in Australia, and what factors both harm and help them to flourish. I have even described a new species of native bee! I am also passionate about science communication, and regularly provide workshops and presentations about native bees.
Native bees are crucial components of ecosystems, yet they are in decline. My research involves documenting the biodiversity of native bees in various habitats, including areas managed by local community groups, and what flowers are important for their conservation. As one of Australia’s few taxonomists, I also have identified native bees collected by other researchers, and curated them so they can be deposited and contribute to the QLD Museum's collection. I have also been heavily involved in science communication and community outreach, providing engaging presentations about native bees at events such as the Townsville EcoFiesta, and World Bee Day and World Environment Day events hosted by nurseries, landcare groups, and local councils.
I'm a big advocate of following your passion. The image of a scientist that we have inherited from historical times is often that of an old, boring male in a lab coat. I like to showcase that scientists can be whoever they want to be - I am unashamedly myself, and have made a huge effort in science communication in making science both accessible and exciting to young girls. I show that scientists are human, can have alternative interests in the arts, and don't have to conform to stereotypes. My success at being a role model for young girls is demonstrated in how many parents, teachers, and young women commenting on how glad they have me as a role model for a successful woman in STEM. A little girl even made a Lego model of me! In recognition of being an inspiring role model for women and girls, I was awarded the Graduate Women WA Mary Walters Bursary.
I am all about promoting STEM! I was a National Finalist in FameLab, taking my thesis on honeybee competition with native bees to the stage at the Heath Ledger Theatre. I also was part of Pint of Science, literally going straight to The Charming Squire after moving to QLD to present my research on bee hotels to boost bees after bushfires at this Brisbane Pub. I’ve created a YouTube channel for members of the community to answer questions about native bees from the public, and a Facebook Group to share research, memes, infographics, and more on native bees. I host native bee workshops including making bee hotels, and going for bee walks, and introductions to native bee taxonomy. I especially love giving presentations to girl’s schools, such as Methodist Ladies College. I have visited hundreds of schools, community groups, libraries and homeschool groups, including for children with special needs, to present fun and engaging presentations about native bees. I also have been a guest speaker at gardening events (which typically have a large female audience), such as the National Gardening Convention. I was featured on Gardening Australia, and will soon be on a segment ‘My Garden Path’, in which I promote STEM and the joys of being a scientist. I have also presented my research at numerous academic conferences. My aptitude for outreach was recognised in the Ecological Society of Australia Outstanding Outreach Award.