Australia’s only palaeontology degree

There was much excitement around the lab this week with the unveiling of a big billboard on campus promoting the only palaeontology undergraduate degree offered in Australia. And yes, you guessed it, that’s at Flinders University in Adelaide!


Not only is our group the largest palaeontological academic and research team in Australia, but starting next year, we are now are the only place where you can get a BSc (Palaeontology) degree! The degree combines lab and field-based topics with others from Archaeology, Environmental Sciences and the Visual Arts. It is said that the students will “emerge with a deep understanding of life through time and space, particularly for Australian vertebrates and their environment.” It will cover the many broad facets of palaeontology, and I’m just a little jealous that I wont be able to do it myself, but I’m very much looking forward to being involved with it.

For more information, check out the website: 

Total Girl

Guess who was featured in this month’s edition of Total Girl magazine? (For those of you who don’t know that is “Australia’s Best Tween Mag for Girls”.)

You guessed it, moi!

I was very pleased to be contacted by their Features Writer recently (thanks Aaron!) who was looking to include more science-based content, in particular, information about possible career paths in science and technology. You can find my face in amongst the celeb goss, quizzes and all things cute and fluffy!

With respect to women in STEM in particular, I strongly believe we all need to do much more to remove negative biases from all levels of the ‘leaky pipeline’, to positively engage and inspire confidence in the next generation. A big part of this is visibility of appropriate and positive role models, as I strive to be.

Issue #192 (July 2018) is on sale now. And word has it that this issue comes with a free glitter watch too!

OMG. Totes amazeballs.


Ralph Tate Memorial Lecture

Last night I attended the “Ralph Tate Memorial Lecture” held in the Mawson Lecture Theatre at Adelaide University. The event is held annually, jointly organised by the Royal Society of South Australia, the Geological Society of South Australia and the Field Geology Club of South Australia. The Mawson Theatre is accessed through the Tate Museum, a lovely old display full of geological wonders in a room that feels like a step back in time.

Ralph Tate was a professor of natural science at the University of Adelaide, and was a botanist, palaeontologist, zoologist and geologist in his own right. He was also the first president of the Royal Society of South Australia (originally the Philosophical Society) in 1880.

I joined the Royal Society of South Australia just over two years ago, and have been serving as Membership Secretary since that time. The Society continues to promote science in the community through grants, lectures and publications, and has been a great way for me to meet other people who share my passion for science. (Please check out our website, Facebook or Twitter for more information).

The speaker of the lecture last night was Prof. Gavin Prideaux, the head of our palaeontology group at Flinders University, with the topic “How has Australian mammal evolution been shaped by environmental change over the past 25 million years?” It was fascinating to hear an overview of some of the work and hypotheses examining mammal -and specifically megafauna- evolution and extinction over that time.

The message I took from the talk is that there will be no one “smoking gun” in the fossil record, and that many of the extinctions that have occurred in that time are likely due to a combination of hunting, fire stick farming and climate change. These are interesting ideas, but more importantly the lessons we can learn from these events should help us to understand when and how animals can adapt to climate change in order to help our current biota persist through this (ongoing) sixth mass extinction.