Me, and my Research Interests

Working with students on an abalone diver’s boat, recording data from an experiment

measuring abalone on boat 2

I am passionately curious about how the world works, especially the marine world.

I grew up in South Africa – my undergraduate training was at the University of Cape Town, a centre for Marine Biology and Oceanography (and a great place for diving).

After a year in the navy, studying the sessile animals that slow down ships, I came to Australia to do a PhD under Charles Birch, on the ecology of sessile animals on the Great Barrier Reef. From there I moved to a post-doc, with Joe Connell, at the University of California at Santa Barbara. I worked on the effects on sessile animals of the hot water from a nuclear power station, and also began studying abalone -seeding hatchery reared abalone to see if this would enhance the abalone fishery.

When I joined the University of Melbourne I found abalone were a wonderful model species for ecological field experiments as well as work on sustainable management  – they are commercially important, the fishers know a lot about them as they search for them underwater, and abalone don’t move around much!

Also, as abalone farming has grown, there has been a demand for information and thus opportunities for research on their physiology – feeding, growth, reproduction, and immune system. As there are abalone species all around the world, knowledge about them has accumulated fast – more so than other marine animals.

In addition, I have supervised projects on other fishery species – shark species, rock-lobsters, Trochus snails and fin-fish. My students have used their PhD experience to move into work on abalone farms, in government fisheries agencies, and also starting their own companies.

To look at my orientation to collaborations and my pattern of student co-supervision, see COLLABORATIONS AND STUDENTS