Professor Ary Hoffmann is an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow working in the areas of climate change adaptation and pest control. His group undertakes research on adaptation of organisms (particularly invertebrates) to environmental stresses including climate change and chemical pollutants, using field sites in the Victorian Alps, in tropical rainforests and in wetlands around Melbourne. His group also develops integrated pest control options for the grains and grape/wine industries, investigates how landscape changes can be harnessed to provide pest control services, contributes to novel approaches for suppressing dengue mosquito vectors, and examines new ways to predict species distribution shifts under climate change. He has a strong interest in using genetics, genomics and invertebrate biodiversity for monitoring environmental health and developing resilience indicators for biodiversity and sustainable agricultural production. Professor Hoffmann is a member of the Australian Academy of Science, current President of the Australian Entomological Society, and past President of the Australasian Genetics Society. He heads a research team of more than 40 scientists and postgraduate students located at the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne.
Professor Hoffmann’s funding is provided by the Australian Research Council, NHMRC, Grains and Grape/Wine Research and Development Corporations, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Victorian Government and industry bodies. He has co-authored two volumes on evolution under environmental stress, co-edited one volume on Wolbachia endosymbionts of insects, and contributed more than 370 papers in scientific journals.
He has recently been/is a member of several editorial boards including Science, Genetics, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Journal of Experimental Zoology, Molecular Ecology and American Naturalist. He contributes to government committees on climate change adaptation and environmental issues, and regularly presents pure and applied research outcomes to scientific meetings and community forums.
Professor Stephen Simpson is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences and Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre for the study of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease at the University of Sydney. Stephen returned to Australia in 2005 as an ARC Federation Fellow after 22 years at Oxford where he was Professor of Entomology and Curator of the University Museum of Natural History. Before that he had undertaken his PhD at the University of London, and his undergraduate degree and Honours at the University of Queensland.
Together with colleague David Raubenheimer, Stephen developed an integrative modelling framework for nutrition (the Geometric Framework), which was devised and tested using insects but has since been applied to a wide range of organisms, from slime moulds to humans, and problems, from aquaculture and conservation biology to the dietary causes of human obesity and ageing. A synthesis of this body of work can be found in The Nature of Nutrition: a Unifying Framework from Animal Adaptation to Human Obesity, published in May 2012 by Princeton University Press. In addition to nutritional biology, Stephen’s research on locusts has led to an understanding of locust swarming that links chemical events in the brains of individual insects to landscape-scale mass migration.
Stephen has been Visiting Professor at Oxford, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the University of Arizona, and Guest Professor at the University of Basel. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, in 2008 he was awarded the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research, in 2009 he was named NSW Scientist of the Year, and in 2010 he was named as the Wigglesworth Medallist by the Royal Entomological Society of London. He is also the presenter of a four-part documentary for ABC TV, Great Southern Land, to be aired in May/June 2012.
Stephen Simpson explains to ABC Radio National how the connections between the appetites of humans and locusts have revealed new insights into human obesity. Listen to the audio
Nick Porch is Lecturer in Environmental Earth Science in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Deakin University (Burwood). He received his PhD from Monash University in 2007 for doctoral research that focussed on developing methods for the reconstruction of past climates using subfossil beetles. He subsequently worked as a Research Associate in Archaeology and Natural History at the Australian National University before moving to Deakin in mid-2010. Nick’s research is currently focussed on the use of subfossil insects to explore the development and collapse of Indo-Pacific island insect faunas, especially prehistoric transport of invasive species like ants, the nature of the prehuman lowland biota, and long-term perspectives into the biodiversity trajectories of island systems.