I am investigating how birds use their bills for thermoregulation and the evolution of bill size in response to climate change. Heat loss in birds primarily occurs through their unfeathered extremities – such as the legs and bill – where large extremities are advantageous for dissipating heat. Bird bills may be especially useful for regulating temperature because they are highly vascularized, so birds can control heat transfer by adjusting blood flow.
I will use a thermal camera to assess how wild shorebirds use their bills for thermoregulation, and whether species differ in their capacity to adjust heat transfer via their bills. I will also use long-term field data on several species of Australian shorebirds to investigate changes in bill size in response to climate, and the impacts of bill size and temperature on shorebird survival.
Describe yourself in three words or less: Inquisitive, outdoorsy ecologist
What is your earliest memory? Watching whales from a boat and seeing their huge tails hit the water. Not sure how old I was but apparently young enough to be carried in a backpack.
What (or who) inspired your interest in biology? My parents taught me the names of the plants and birds around the family house in the Dandenong Ranges. I think backyard adventures with the family dog also inspired a love of animals.
What was your favourite book as a child? The Hobbit
Name your three favourite films The Tree of Life, Amélie, Strictly Ballroom
Which do you prefer – Cheese or chocolate? Olives.
Who would play you in a film about your life? I am terrible with actors’ names…me?
Which three people would you invite to your dream dinner party? Virginia Woolf, Brett Whiteley, Charles Darwin
What is your fancy dress costume of choice? I once went to an Alice in Wonderland fancy dress as the Cheshire Cat (purple ears, whiskers, fluffy tail). No-one else had dressed up.
What would your super power be? To understand the vocal communication of all animals
What TV programme best describes your personality? Insight, because I like people and enjoy interesting conversations.
If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would it be? Tassie Tigers. Partly because I love the way they move.