CV

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CONTACT INFORMATION

Dr Marie R. G. Attard
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
Alfred Denny Building
University of Sheffield
Western Bank
Sheffield S10 2TN
United Kingdom

Mob: +44 (0)7 401 334512 | Email: marie.r.g.attard@gmail.com

ResearcherID: H-2504-2012

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in Biological Sciences. 2013. University of New South Wales, Sydney.
Area of Specialisation: Large mammal ecology and extinction risk.
Dissertation title: “Who’s on the menu: marsupial carnivore feeding ecology and extinction risk.” Joint-supervisors: Assoc Prof. Tracey Rogers and Assoc Prof. Stephen Wroe; Co-supervisor: Dr. Menna Jones.

Certificate with Distinction, “Writing for the Sciences” course, 2012, Coursera, Stanford University, USA.

BSc (Honours) in Biological Sciences. 2008. Class I. Macquarie University, Sydney.
Area of Specialisation: Vocal communication and behavior.
Dissertation title: “Familiarity breeds contempt: vocal recognition in mate guarding male Australian sea lions.” Supervisor: Dr. Robert Harcourt.

BSc (Advanced Science) with Distinction. 2007. GPA: 6.682. University of Western Sydney, Sydney.
Environmental Science (major); Microbiology (major); Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (sub-major).

RESEARCH INTERESTS

My current research focuses on how biomechanics and shape of biological structures influence species ecology and morphological evolution. I investigate the relationship between form and function of hard tissues – primarily avian eggshells and vertebrate skulls.

I am passionate about large mammal conservation and I have been involved as a researcher, collaborator and volunteer for a wide range of ecological research projects in Australia, Antarctica and the Maldives. My research includes Australian sea lion vocal behaviour and interactions, leopard seal movement patterns and large marsupial carnivore foraging behaviour and habitat use. I enjoy volunteering to assist conservation research initiatives including cetacean behaviour, population genetics and migration.

PROFESSIONAL APPOINTMENTS 

2016-present Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield.

2014-2016 Research Assistant, The Function, Evolution and Anatomy Research (FEAR) Lab, Department of Zoology, University of New England.

2014/15 Postdoctoral Fellow, The Function, Evolution and Anatomy Research (FEAR) Lab, Department of Zoology, University of New England. Supervisors: A/Prof Stephen Wroe and Dr Paul McDonald.

2014 Unit coordinator, Principles of Zoology (ZOOL100), University of New England. 2013 Environmental surveyor, Greencollar Consulting Solutions, Sydney.

2013 Environmental Surveyor, GreenCollar Consulting Solutions, Sydney

2009 Research Assistant, Dr Tracey Rogers’ Research Group, School of Biological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences (BEES), University of New South Wales.

2007 Research Assistant, Dr Pauline Ross, School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney.

2006/07 Research Assistant, Dr Julian Wang, School of Computing and Mathematics, University of Western Sydney.

SKILLS

Biomechanics (finite element analysis and compression experiments), Shape analysis (geometric morphometrics), Photogrammetry, 3D imaging (CT and microCT), Stable isotopes, acoustics, behavioural studies, remote land and boat-based fieldwork, scientific illustrations.

PUBLICATIONS

Attard, M. R. G., Wilson LAB, Worthy TH, Scofield P, Johnston P, Parr WCH and Wroe S (2016) Moa diet fits the bill: virtual reconstruction incorporating mummified remains and prediction of biomechanical performance in avian giants. Proceedings of Royal Society B.

Attard, M. R. G., Parr, W. C. H., Wilson, L. A. B., Archer, M., Hand, S. J., Rogers, T. L., Wroe, S. (2014) Virtual reconstruction and prey size prefereence in the mid Cenozoic Thylacinid, Nimbacinus dicksoni (Thylacinidae, Marsupialia). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093088

D’Anastasio, R., Wroe, S., Tuniz, C., Arensburge, B., Mancini, L., Cesana, D. T., Dreossi, D., Ravichandiran, M., Attard, M. R. G., Parr, W., Agur, A. (2013) Micro-biomechanics of the Kebara 2 hyoid and its implications for speech in Neanderthals. PLOS ONE, 8 (12) e82261.

Attard, M. R. G., Chamoli, U., Ferrara, T., Rogers, T. L. and Wroe, S. (2011) Skull mechanics and implications for feeding behaviour in a large marsupial carnivore guild: the thylacine, Tasmanian devil and spotted-tailed quoll. Journal of Zoology, 285 (4); 292-300.

Attard, M.R.G., Pitcher, B.J., Charrier, I., Ahonen, H., Harcourt, R.G. (2010) Vocal discrimination in mate guarding male Australian sea lions: Familiarity Breeds Contempt, Ethology, 116; 1-9.

SELECTED MANUSCRIPTS IN PREPARATION

Attard, M. R. G., Wroe, S. and Rogers, T. L. (In prep) Who’s on the menu? The habitat and dietary preferences of the extinct thylacine, inferred from stable isotope analysis.

Attard, M. R. G., Wroe, S. and Rogers, T. L. (In prep) New insight from the old: Using stable isotopes to assess temporal shifts in marsupial carnivore ecology over the past 180 years in Tasmania.

Attard, M. R. G., Slip, D., Wroe, S. and Rogers, T. L. (In prep) A tool to tell time: Using whiskers to monitor the ecology of Tasmanian devils.

PUBLISHED FEATURE ARTICLES

Attard, M. R. G. and Wroe, S. (2012) “The thylacine myth” Australasian Science Magazine. (6): 19-22.

Attard, M. R. G. (2012) Unveiling the mysteries of the Tasmanian Tiger. The conversation.

REPORTS

Wang, J. and Attard, M. R. G. (2005-2007) Annual Self-Storage Almanac, Self Storage Association of Australia.

AWARDS AND HONORS

2013: Postgraduate Writing and Skills Transfer Award (AU$6,000) Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, University of New South Wales.

2012: Faculty of Science Postgraduate Research Competition Winner (AU$5,000). University of New South Wales.

2012: Wiley-Blackwell Student prize (AU$300). For outstanding spoken presentation at Ecological Society of Australia conference.

2010: Postgraduate Forum Award. For outstanding spoken presentation at School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences postgraduate forum, University of New South Wales.

2009-12: Academic Postgraduate Award (AU$20,427 per annum) Scholarship awarded by University of New South Wales.

2005-07: Academic Excellence Scholarship (AU$5,000). Scholarship awarded by University of Western Sydney.

2005-07: University Dean’s Medal. University of Western Sydney.

GRANTS

2013: Travel Grant (£300) awarded by the British Ecological Society to attend International Association for Ecology Conference.

2012: E&ERC Postgraduate Research Start-Up Grant (AU$1,000) awarded by the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, University of New South Wales.

2012: Travel Grant (AU$200) awarded by Ecological Society of Australia.

2011: Postgraduate Research Student Support (PRSS) Scheme (AU$3,300) research grant awarded by University of New South Wales.

2011: Travel Grant (AU$1,000) awarded by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

2008: Golden Key International Honours Society Scholarship (AU$500) research grant awarded by Golden Key International Honour Society.

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

Postdoctoral Fellow, May 2014 to May 2015, University of New England, Armidale.

  • Conducted research investigating the relationship between avian eggshell shape, thinkness and strength with nest type, nest location and clutch size.
  • Completed pilot study to investigate variation in egg shape within and between clutches of different Australasian bird species.
  • Created new protocols to test strength of eggshells using Finite Element Analysis and Geometric Morphometrics.
  • MicroCT scanned eggs from 50 species of Australian birds from CSIRO, Canberra and Zoology Museum, University of New England.

Research Assistant, 2014-Present, Function, Evolution and Anatomy Research (FEAR) lab, University of New England, Armidale.

  • Created FEAR lab name, logo and website. Maintenance of FEARlab website.
  • Lab manager, including organising meetings for student and lab projects, organising the loan and CT scanning of museum specimens, administration tasks etc.
  • Taught engineering software (mimics, 3-matic and Strand7) and illustration software (photoshop, illustrator) to members of lab.
  • Organised FEAR lab conference (2014) – including program schedule, room booking, catering, accommodation and flights for participants.

Environmental Surveyor, 2013, GreenCollar Consulting Solutions, Sydney

  • Conducted vegetation biomass surveys for assessment of carbon stocks in rangeland and forest systems. Methodology involved measuring plant height and stem diameter of shrub and tree species in randomly allocated plots.
  • Responsible for data collection, recording and management.
  • Field skills include off road driving, GPS/compass navigation, hiking and camp site duties.

Educational officer, 2008/09, Sydney Aquarium and Sydney Wildlife World

  • Educating visitors on the various aspects of the aquarium/wildlife park and its animal residents, and ensuring visits are safe and enjoyable for both humans and animals.
  • Delivering daily public talks and tours of exhibits.
  • Aiding keepers in cleaning exhibits and preparing food for the animals.

Research assistant, 2009, A/Prof Tracey Rogers’ Research Group, University of New South Wales

  • Preliminary assessment of leopard seal home range using satellite tracking data from Antarctica.
  • Extensive literature search for publications.
  • Sampling specimens from museum collections for stable isotope analysis.

Research assistant, 2008, School of Natural Sciences, University of Western Sydney

  • Forming an engaging curriculum and case studies for the new ‘Integrative Science’ course.

Research assistant, 2005-07, School of Computing and Mathematics, University of Western Sydney

  • Statistical analysis of survey data obtained from self storage companies and co-authored “Australian Self Storage Almanac”, an annual statistical reference guide for the self storage industry.

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

Unit Co-ordinator, 2014 Trimester 2, Introduction to Zoology (ZOOL100), University of New England, Armidale.

  • Lecturer (including presenting lectures and modifying lecture and practical material)
  • Marked assessments and exam
  • Wrote final exam
  • Online discussions with students about unit material and assessments.
  • Addressed student complaints and concerns.

Course demonstrator, 2012, 2nd year Vertebrate Zoology (BIOS2061), University of New South Wales­

  • One day class; guiding students through class exercises involving computerised tomography of biological structures to demonstrate evolutionary processes in vertebrates.

Course demonstrator, 2009 and 2010, 3rd year Animal Behaviour (BIOS3011), University of New South Wales

  • Supervising student groups on independent animal behaviour research projects. Responsibilities included advising students on experimental design and concepts and providing technical and statistical support.
  • Demonstrating all practical classes and ensuring that animals were not harmed.
  • Marking student research projects.

International Student Mentor, 2006, International Orientation Mentor Program, School of Natural Sciences, University of Western Sydney

  • Guiding new international students around the campus and nearby facilities and helping them obtain a student card and bank account.
  • Providing friendly resource for support and socialising.

International Student Mentor, 2006, 200331 Biology 1, University of Western Sydney (1st year)

MEDIA ACTIVITIES

My research has been communicated to the public through:

  • Interviews on radio and television e.g. ABC Science Show, Bush Telegraph, New Zealand radio, ABC News.
  • Feature articles e.g. BBC Nature, Science Illustrated, Science News, Australian Geographic, Live Science, Scienceline.
  • Newspapers e.g. Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times, MX Newspaper.

See full list of media coverage.

CONFERENCE ORAL PRESENTATIONS, POSTERS AND WORKSHOPS

2014  

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Oral presentation. “Virtual reconstruction and prey preference of Tasmanian tiger’s ancient relative”, Berlin.
4th International Palaeontological Congress, Poster, “Moa diet fits the bill: clip and pluck feeding strategies of New Zealand’s Extinct giant flightless birds”, Mendoza.

2013  

Ran a three-day “Winning Presentations” workshop sponsored by the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre at the University of New South Wales to improve scientific communication skills of postgraduates and academics.
International Association for Ecology (INTECOL) conference, Poster presentation, “New insight from the old: Using stable isotopes to assess marsupial carnivore vulnerability to anthropogenic impacts”, London, England.
Ecological Society of America Conference, Oral presentation, “The risks of being big – The ecological and evolutionary significance of the thylacine’s body size and diet”, Minnesota, USA.
Australian Mammal Society Conference, Oral presentation, “Tracking long-term diet and habitat shifts in the world’s largest marsupial carnivores”, Sydney, Australia.

2012 

Ecological Society of Australia Annual Conference, Oral presentation, “The thylacine myth: stable isotopes and skull biomechanics reveal their ‘actual’ diet and extinction risk” Melbourne, Australia.
Guest speaker at “Using virtual reconstruction and computational biomechanics to study form and function in biology” workshop, Sydney, Australia.

2011   

19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Oral presentation, “Are you really what you eat: Influences of fasting on stable isotope ratios in male southern elephant seals”, Tampa, Florida.
13th Conference on Australian Vertebrate Evolution Paleontology and Systematics (CAVEPS), Oral presentation, “Skull mechanics and implications for feeding behaviour in a large marsupial carnivore guild” Perth, Australia.
4th International Conference on the Mechanics of Biomaterials and Tissues, Oral presentation and poster, “Skull mechanics and its implications for feeding behaviour in a large marsupial carnivore guild”, Kona, Hawaii.

2010

Participant in Arts and Science Learning and Teaching workshop, 2010, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
  • Review teaching and/or learning practice
  • Plan effective teaching and learning activities, and assessment strategies for specific contexts

FIELD AND LABORATORY EXPERIENCE

Field assistant for Cetacean Ecology Research in Maldives, 2013

  • Three-week whale research expedition, Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab (CEBEL), Flinders University.
  • Roles: Photo-identification, recording behaviour, and assisting in the collection of whale and dolphin biopsy samples.

Field assistant for Southwest Whale Ecology Study, Geographe Bay, Western Australia, 2010/12

  • Collaborative long-term cetacean monitoring research involving the Western Whale Research (WWR), the Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST) and the Dunsborough Coast and Land Care (D-CALC) group.
  • Roles: Photo-identification, identifying and recording cetacean behaviour, theodolite tracking of cetaceans from land.

Field assistant for frog conservation in Murray Darling Basin, 2010

  • Investigating response of frogs to river regulation headed by Ms Jo Ocock from the Australian Wetlands, Rivers and Landscapes Centre, University of New South Wales.
  • Roles: Aiding in frog abundance estimates using transects, tadpole measurements.

Field assistant for Leopard seal research program at Primavera Station, Western Antarctic Peninsula, 2009

  • Leopard seal study headed by A/Prof Tracey Rogers from the University of New South Wales and collaborators from the Instituto Antártico Argentino and the Taronga Conservation Society Australia.
  • Roles: Aiding in satellite tag deployment, scat and tissue collection and body measurements of leopard seals.

Field assistant for Sydney rock oyster and Pacific oyster distribution and abundance program at Port Stephens, Sydney, 2008

  • Oyster ecology research headed by Ms Emma Wilkie from Macquarie University.
  • Roles: Assisting in a manipulative-experiment to assess recruitment of oyster species in Port Stephens.

Research Studentship at CSIRO Plant Industry Summer Student Program, Canberra, 2006

  • Performing genetic analysis of mutant rice during a ten week studentship and presenting the research in a public forum.

CERTIFICATES AND WORKSHOPS

2015: Ionisation Radiation Safety Certificate, awarded by Australian National
University, Canberra to allow use of radiation equipment (including microCT)

2015: Workshop participant. Geometric Morphometrics in R, University of New England.

2013: Workshop participant. Statistics in R for biologists, University of New
South wales

2012 Certificate. Writing in the Sciences. Coursera. Stanford University, Stanford.

2010: Certificate. Sessional Teaching Introduction to Learning and Teaching (STILT). Faculty of Science and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences,
University of New South Wales, Sydney.

SERVICE TO THE FIELD

Peer reviewer for the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports