Sessions and Convenors

tuesday 23 july

Traditional ecological knowledge

Dr Sara Belcher (NZ)

Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington

I work at the intersection of Mātauranga Māori and mainstream ‘Western’ science. I am particularly interested in linking pūtaiao to mainstream ecology and natural resource management, supporting effective co-research, co-governance, and co-management in Aotearoa New Zealand. I am an alumnus of Victoria University of Wellington. My PhD involved the creation of a framework that links mātauranga Māori and pūtaiao Māori concepts to scientific quantitative metrics. Working for 18 years as an Ecologist with a biosecurity specialisation has given me an extensive background in designing and implementing ecological monitoring to capture the outcomes and outputs of pest management.

Teagan Goolmeer (AUS)

Teagan is a proud Arabanna descendant, her family are displaced people as a result of stolen generation and have lived off-country for 3 generations. She grew up in Newcastle (Awabakal country) and has worked in the public sector across 3 states. Teagan has worked in the community engagement and environmental sector for over 15 years including in NSW, QLD and WA as well as at an international level as an ambassador to the World Indigenous Network. Teagan has: a Bachelor of Education; Bachelor of Applied Science; and a Masters in Marine Science and Management. She believes the answer to the conservation issues facing Australia lie in the Indigenous-led use of Traditional Knowledge. She is currently undertaking a postdoc with Curtin University, with a focus on empowering Indigenous-led decision-making in biodiversity conservation. 


Bruce Burns (NZ) 

University of Auckland

Bruce is a plant and restoration ecologist in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland. His main interest at a fundamental level is in understanding what mechanisms control plant community composition in natural and managed ecosystems, and how this knowledge can be applied to effective restoration. Because of his interests in restoration, he has also been involved with ecosanctuaries in New Zealand and was one of the founders of the Sanctuaries of New Zealand network. He has particularly been interested in pest-proof fenced sanctuaries and has a long-standing association with Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari.  

Jason Cummings (AUS)

Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary

Dr Jason Cummings has 20+ years’ experience in the conservation sector, with the last 10 years supporting the continued development and growth of the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary.


Fire Ecology 

Associate Professor Tim Curran (NZ)

Lincoln University

Tim is a plant ecologist at Lincoln University, NZ, whose main field of expertise lies in using functional traits to understand how plants respond to extreme disturbance events such as fire, drought, frost and cyclones. Recently, his research focus has been on comparative plant flammability to tackle a range of applied and basic questions. The main device used in this research is a 'plant BBQ', which is a lot of fun to operate!

Dr Perpetua Turner (AUS)

Tasmania Fire Service

Perpetua (Pep) Turner (Blanks) has over 25 years’ experience working and researching forest fire ecology both in Victoria and Tasmania. She is currently employed by the Tasmania Fire Service as Manager, State Fire Management Council. Pep is responsible for supporting the SFMC ‘to enhance the efficient management of bushfire related risk in Tasmania to protect life, property and significant environmental values’. The SFMC manages the Red Hot Tips program, a free practical bushfire management program for farmers and rural landholders. Pep’s main areas of interest are forest and fire ecology and delivering science to practice for strong biodiversity conservation and land management outcomes.

open session (invasive species, coastal and freshwater ecosystems, biodiversity conservation) 

Nigel Andrew (AUS)

Austral Ecology

Nigel is currently the Discipline Chair (Science) at Southern Cross University. He is also a Professor of Entomology, Fulbright Senior Scholar and Editor-in-Chief of Austral Ecology. His current research is focused on identifying if behavioural, ecological and physiological traits of insect species are predictable and repeatable. His research group works with dung beetles (native and introduced), the black soldier fly, the invasive fire ant and pasture mealybug. 

Drew Bingham (NZ)

Department of Conservation - Te Papa Atawhai

Drew Bingham is a Principal Science Advisor for Climate Change Adaptation at New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, where he supports the Department to advance its Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan, and works across government to strengthen climate adaptation for the environment. While with the Ministry for the Environment he was the lead author on several environmental reports, including Our atmosphere & climate 2020 which won the Biennial Award for Climate Change Communication from the Science Communicators Association of New Zealand. Before moving to New Zealand he spent 13 years with the Air Resources Division of the US National Park Service as an Ecologist and Geographer, where he helped parks understand the impacts of air quality on their ecosystems.

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