My interests in research span ecology, biodiversity and sustainability. Whilst my research background is on insects and mangrove plastic pollution (read more below), I am also passionate about diversity and equity in science.

I’m currently a PhD researcher with the Lepidoptera/Phylogenomics team at the Australian National Insect Collection at CSIRO (supervised by Dr. Andreas Zwick), and the Keogh Lab at the Australian National University.

For a list of where you can find my online articles and scientific papers, see my “Science Writing and Publications” page.

Insect Biodiversity

I think insects are really interesting! There are so many of them out there!

I became enamored with insects whilst working in urban tropical Hong Kong, where I worked in a research group studying ants. Whilst there I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to describe a new species of ant, which ended up being covered by Hong Kong media.

I am now doing a PhD project investigating the diversity of a group of leaf mining micro-moths in Australia. Leaf miners are insects which spend all or part of their larval (caterpillar) stage living inside a leaf. They will then either stay inside the leaf or leave it to complete development into an adult. There are also beetles, wasps and flies that mine leaves, but my project will focus on a group of micro-moths (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae).

Overall leaf miners are really understudied in Australia, despite being quite easy to find. I’ll be sharing my progress and some other discoveries on my blog. Check it out to learn more about my project and even how to look for leaf miners in your own yard.

Plastic Pollution in Mangroves

Photos from my fieldwork in Hong Kong mangroves

Plastic is one of the most adaptable and convenient materials that humans have created. It can be used for anything. However, a majority of plastic waste is never recycled, and mismanagement of plastic wastes means that it inevitably ends up in our environment. This really got me thinking about the impact of the plastic we use, so I was interested in studying the impact of plastic in a very understudied habitat.

A majority of plastic pollution studies have been performed on sandy beaches, so during my MPhil I investigated the issue of plastic pollution in mangroves, particularly those in Hong Kong. You can watch a video of my MPhil defense here!

Mangroves are intertidal forests, often located at river mouths, which means they are vulnerable to mismanaged waste emitted from rivers and marine debris. I found that plastic waste in Hong Kong mangroves came from both individual and commercial sources, and was present in significantly higher quantities at the landward area of the mangrove.

Globally the impact of plastic pollution from commercial sources (such as fisheries) are much higher than the impact of individuals, and the onus of plastic waste management should be on corporations and lawmakers to prevent vast amounts of mismanaged waste from entering the oceans.