Karen Muscat is hooked on the flax lily genus Dianella. Karen did an honours project at La Trobe University on variation
in the D. tasmanica species group, which supported the recognition of three new species. She is now doing a PhD on the genus that will include molecular phylogenetics and close scrutiny of variation in the D. caerulea group of species in eastern Australia .
Supervisors: Mike Bayly, Pauline Ladiges – with assistance from Geoff Carr.
David Meagher is a bryologist. He has had a career as a scientific editor and author, and recently completed an MSc on taxonomy of the liverwort genus Bazzania. He is now doing a PhD on the bryophyte flora of Lord Howe Island. He is cataloguing the flora of the island and using morphology and DNA sequencing to assess the classification and biogeographic histories of selected genera. In the process he is teaching his supervisors something about bryophytes.
Supervisors: Mike Bayly, Andrew Drinnan
Rose Barrett did undergraduate botany and an honours degree in aquatic ecology at La Trobe University. She has now seen the light and is doing a PhD on the systematics of Zieria, a genus of fragrant plants (not all “stinky”!) in the family Rutaceae. Zieria is a genus of about 60 species in eastern Australia, with one species, Z. chevalieri, in New Caledonia. Rose is using genetic data to produce a molecular phylogeny for the genus that will give insight into its biogeographic history, and help with identifying priority taxa for conservation. See paper here.
Todd McLay is a kiwi. He completed a Masters degree at Massey University on population genetics of the rare parasitic plant Dactylanthus taylorii (Balanophoraceae). He is doing a PhD in Melbourne studying the taxonomy and phylogeny of the grass tree genus Xanthorrhoea, using both morphological and molecular data.
Supervisors: Mike Bayly, Andrew Drinnan
Stephanie Conway is a PhD student studying the shoot apical meristem of gymnosperms. She is using traditional and modern microscopy to study cell division patterns within the shoot tip, and genetics to understand the actions of meristem genes in Ginkgo and conifers.
Supervisor: Andrew Drinnan
Alice Crowe is a Masters student (2013- 2016) investigating species delimitation in eucalypts in the face of ongoing gene flow. Her study is focussed on co-occurring species species of Eucalyptus subg. Eucalyptus in Victoria, and is using a combination of chloroplast and nuclear DNA markers to identify levels of differentiation and introgression between taxa. See more here
Rachael Fowler is a PhD student studying phylogeny, classification and biogeography of the genus Eremophila (Myoproaceae). These plants are concentrated in arid and semiarid Australia. Understanding their relationships will support improved classification and provide insight into evolution of the arid zone flora. In conjunction with Prof. Gerry Cassis (University of NSW) Rachael is also investigating coevolutionary patterns between Eremophila and a diverse group of sap-sucking insects (genus Lasiacantha) that use them as hosts. Rachael’s project is supported by Jim H. Ross scholarship with funding from the Cybec Foundation.
Cat Clowes (website) is a PhD student studying morphological and molecular variation in Spyridium parvifolium (Rhamnaceae). This species is widespread and morphologically variable in southeastern Australia. Cat is assessing both the current taxonomy (should additional species or infraspecific taxa be recognised?) and factors that have shaped genetic diversity in the species (isolation, vicariance, dispersal etc.). She is using next-generation DNA sequencing methods to study genetic variation.
Heather Merrylees is a Masters student (2015-2016) studying relationships, classification and phylogeography of the widespread and morphologically variable myrtle wattle, Acacia myrtifolia (Mimosoideae). She is assessing morphological and genetic variation in A. myrtifolia and its relationships to other species. This will determine whether additional taxa can be recognised in A. myrtifolia and process that have shaped genetic diversity in the species. Supervisors: Gill Brown, Mike Bayly
Ai Tran is a Masters student (2015-2016) investigating eucalypt phylogeny using low copy nuclear genes. Molecular phylogenetic studies of eucalypts have most commonly used data from from nuclear ribosomal DNA (<1500 bp from the ITS and ETS regions) or chloroplast markers (which are prone to introgression between species). Ai is using data from next-generation DNA sequencing to identify a broader range of nuclear markers for use in such studies.
Supervisor: Mike Bayly
Shuyin Zhang did an honours project on root anatomy of Psilotales (2012). She is now continuing with a PhD on the anatomy of lower land plants, with the aim of improving understanding of the morphological evolution of plants.
Supervisor: Andrew Drinnan
Beau Picking is a Masters student (2015-2017) studying the world’s largest mushroom genus, Cortinarius. He is using a molecular approach, concordance of gene genealogies, to assess species limits in Australian samples. This will provide new insight into the diversity Cortinarius in Australia.
Edita Ritmejeryte is a PhD student studying floral chemical defence and floral traits in the plant family Proteaceae. This includes a detailed study of cyanogenic glycosides in waratahs (Telopea speciosissima).
Lachlan Tegart is a Masters student (2016/2017) studying Melbourne’s airborne flora (pollen and spores) to better understand the species and allergens responsible for hay fever (allergic rhinitis). He is combining data from regular allergen assays, morphological pollen counts, and DNA sequences from the air, which can be used to identify plant and fungal species. He is based mostly in the pollen biology group in the Plant Cell Biology Research Centre, but also occasionally frequents the systematics lab.
Megan Rixon is a Masters student (part-time; 2016-2018) studying complex interrelationships between chenopod salt marsh plants (Sarcocornia and Tecticornia), gall inducing insects (Asphondylia), micro-fungi associated with galls (Botryosphaeria), and wasps that parasitise the larvae of Asphondylia. She is using field studies, morphological data, and DNA sequences to understand the biology of this interaction and the species involved.
Amelia-Grace Boxshall is a Masters student (2016-2018) investigating the taxonomy and toxicity of native and introduced Agaricus, Macrolepiota and Chlorophyllum. These fungi genera contain both edible and toxic species. Grace’s research will reconstruct the evolutionary history of Australian taxa, investigate the evolution of toxicity in these genera, and elucidate relationships between toxicity and environment conditions.
Kia Matley is a palaeo fanatic. Over the course of her Advanced Graduate Diploma, she will reconstruct a 2000-year history of the vegetation in the Nullarbor by examining pollen preserved within a cave stalagmite. Using her vegetation reconstructions as a proxy for climate, Kia hopes to examine whether there is any evidence in the Australian arid region for the expression of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, as well as post-industrial warming.
Supervisors: Andrew Drinnan, Kale Sniderman.