Hi, I am an ecologist with a keen interest in insects, conservation science, urban biodiversity, citizen science, quantitative methods and nature photography. I am fascinated by insects because I believe that, whether as individuals or aggregated into super-organisms, they are interesting, valuable and aesthetically pleasing life forms. I am particularly impressed by their functional and phylogenetic diversity, and by the wide range of ecological interactions by which the are linked with other living beings.
I’m Research Fellow with the People, Nature, Place Research Group at RMIT University’s Centre for Urban Research (CUR). I work as part of the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub (CAUL) of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program, where I co-lead a research project that aims to understand, quantify and qualify the multiple social, cultural and ecological benefits of urban greening actions using multidisciplinary methods in a ‘Integrated Networks Study Sites’.
As part of CAUL, I’m particularly interested in exploring how to bring nature back into cities, and in developing decision-making tools to evaluate which species would be best suited to bring back. I’m also keen to raise awareness of the importance of beneficial insects in urban environments. To this purpose, my colleagues and I are exploring the idea of ‘Pollinator Observatories’, in which plant-insect pollinator interactions are recorded by both academic and citizen scientists. I’m also involved in developing a photo-preference survey to identify charismatic animal species through an online ‘Public Elicitation Platform’.
Additionally, I’m the lead researcher of The Little Things that Run The City and Our City’s Little Gems, where my colleagues and I are studying plant-insect interactions and insect-habitat associations across the City of Melbourne. Above all, these projects seek to communicate the value of nature in urban environments, as exemplified by our recently published children’s book ‘The Little Things that Run the City – 30 amazing insect that live in Melbourne‘.
I’m an Associate Member of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED).
I truly enjoy discovering and learning from nature through photography! I’m convinced that capturing aesthetically pleasing images of living beings is one of the best ways to bring art and science together. Since 2008, I’ve been posting photos to my flick photostream.
I completed my PhD in November 2013. My thesis is entitled Heteroptera ecology, biodiversity and conservation, and was supervised by Prof. Marta Goula in the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Barcelona. In my thesis I conducted a general investigation into the ecology, biodiversity and conservation of heteropteran bugs, and highlighted how the gap between taxonomy and conservation may be bridged by coupling biodiversity survey efforts with the monitoring of state variables relevant to ecological quantitative research.
As part of my PhD, I spent six months (2011-12) in Australia working in the Australian Research Council Linkage Project Ecosystems services from large urban green spaces, which is associated to the Green Infrastructure Research Group (GIRG) at The University of Melbourne. During the same time I enjoyed the hospitality of Dr. Amy Hahs at the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (ARCUE). My PhD also benefited from a collaboration with the European Union LIFE-Project Demonstrating biodiversity in viticulture landscapes.