The Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year is awarded to scientists at early or mid-career investigation stages in their careers. It’s recognition
of the contribution Australian scientists make on the global stage to ecology and environmental sciences and this year was won by Australian Research
Council Future Fellow and Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson. Kerrie is also Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence
for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and works with the TSR Hub on Project 6.4. We spoke with Kerrie about the news.
Q: What does the Fenner prize mean to you?
A: The award is open to all disciplines in the life sciences from biomedical research through to ecology. The fact that ecologists, Jane Elith in 2015 and myself in 2016, have taken the award two years in a row is quite incredible. The fact that we are women in science and have worked part-time for much of our careers reveals a greater acceptance of diversity in the sciences and of the multiple pathways that can lead to successful and fulfilling careers.
Q: Why is it important to conservation science?
A: It reflects not only our significant contribution to Australia’s goals for demonstrating scientific excellence but also our contribution to delivering innovative solutions to addressing the loss of biodiversity.”
Q: How can this recognition affect conservation science?
A: Australia boasts roughly 10% of the world’s biodiversity, and also a large proportion of global intellectual capacity in the discipline. Conservation science is by definition an interdisciplinary pursuit and the profile afforded by this award will enhance its reputation and open new opportunities for collaboration.
Photo: Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year winner, Kerrie Wilson.
We are receiving an additional $2 million to deliver science to support wildlife and habitat recovery efforts following Australia’s bushfire crisis. The rapid rollout of work now faces the added and acute challenge of COVID-19.
Predation by cats is a key threat to at least 123 threatened species in Australia. Better understanding and reducing the impact of feral cats on susceptible wildlife has been a major area of research for the hub.
One of the post-fire challenges to population recovery that many native species will face is increased risk of predation, including by introduced foxes and cats.
Chief Science Officer John Kanowski and Regional Ecologist SW Michael Smith from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy discuss the far-reaching work their team is doing to protect vulnerable mammals from introduced predators.
Oliver Tester from the Office of the Threatened Species Commissioner tells us about the Australian Government’s action on feral cats.