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Invasive Animals CRC Awards 2016 winners

The Chief Executive’s Award for Student Achievement has been awarded to Jonas Bylemans from the Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra.


Jonas began his PhD studies with the Institute for Applied Ecology in December of 2013 working with Associate Professor Di Gleeson and her team on eDNA surveillance for multiple high risk invasive aquatic species.

Jonas’ PhD is funded through the Invasive Animals CRC and he is a participant in our Balanced Research Program. Even though Jonas is still finalising his PhD research, he has already had two scientific manuscripts accepted for publication in highly ranked journals and another manuscript is under review.

Jonas has independently sought travel grants to present his findings at a range of conferences around Australia and in May of 2016 attended the Society for Freshwater Science Annual Conference in Sacramento, USA, where his work was very well received. Jonas’ work was also featured in an IA CRC media release showcasing the use of eDNA technology to detect redfin perch in the Lachlan River.

It is another great example of impact through collaboration with this technology being used by Fisheries staff at NSW DPI to make containment and management decisions – so Jonas’ research is being applied to real-world scenarios. Jonas is in his final year of his PhD studies and he is also about to undertake a 4 week internship with the CSIRO as part of the Balanced Researcher Program and we wish him the best of luck for his future endeavours.

The Participants Award for Outstanding Contribution to Invasive Animal Management has been awarded to Geoff McFarlane.

invasiveanimalscrc-award2Geoff is the chair of the Bellarine Landcare Group Rabbit Awareness Program based in Victoria. He was nominated by his fellow members as being one of the main drivers of the rabbit awareness community program that has recognised the extent of rabbit infestation on the Bellarine peninsula in Victoria. Through his leadership and using the IA CRCs RabbitScan resource, Geoff and the community have mapped over 1200 warrens along the roadside in the region. Geoff has used this information (collated within the RabbitScan system) and the rabbit awareness program to engage local council and various land agencies to work together to drive the next stage of the areas rabbit eradication program. He is really getting across the message of integrated rabbit management promoting multiple methods of rabbit control and not just one silver bullet.

The Victorian Rabbit Action Network, led through our National Rabbit Facilitation project are also using this community group and program as a template for other community groups to base themselves on throughout Victoria and Australia.

Geoff is dedicated to Feral Animal and Weed Eradication and land care in general and has been working closely with researchers from the Invasive Animals CRC for many years and is a worthy recipient of our participant’s award.

The Invasive Animals CRC Professor Dave Choquenot Science Prize for Excellence in Invasive Animal Science and Research is awarded to Dr Ken McColl from the CSIRO.

invasiveanimalscrc-award4Dr Ken McColl is the powerhouse scientist behind the Invasive Animals CRC carp biocontrol research program. Ken and his team’s rigorous scientific trials have been instrumental in discovering that Cyprinid herpesvirus-3 could be effective as a management option for European carp in our waterways.

Ken has actually been in the pest animal biocontrol space for many years now, beginning his career as a junior scientist with the CSIROs Animal Health Laboratory working with Drs Brian Cooke and Harvey Westbury on the use of RHDV as a biocontrol agent for European rabbits. The lessons learnt during this time became invaluable and led Ken to steer-head our current Carp Biocontrol Program.

In conjunction with his research team of Drs Agus Sunarto and Matt Neave, Ken’s research has addressed a wide range of questions, with the main aim of assessing whether Cyprinid herpesvirus -3 could be used as a successful carp biocontrol agent in Australia. After eight years of extensive research trials (spanning both iterations of our CRC) and publishing eight highly ranked scientific papers, this research program has culminated in Dr McColl and his team being confident that the carp herpesvirus is specific to carp and won’t cause disease in any other fish, animals or humans.

With the cherry on top, Dr McColl’s research outcomes were fundamental in the Australian Government announcement of allocating $15 million towards a National Carp Control Plan. Dr McColl is now recognised as a global leader on this research topic and he is extremely deserving of this honour.

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