Wildlife Spotter – talent for media

ABC projects

Seventeen scientists, science communicators and wildlife experts are available for interview in Victoria, Northern Territory, NSW, Queensland and Tasmania.

More information and contact details for each spokesperson are below.

Or you can contact:

Big picture / ambassador

Dr Rebecca Johnson – Director of Science and Learning, The Australian Museum; Director of Australian Museum Research Institute

Organisation: Australian Museum

Rebecca is a scientist who knows her way around the DNA of Australia’s loveable koalas.

Rebecca is a Wildlife Forensic Scientist, conservation geneticist and co-chief investigator of the Koala Genome Consortium, an Australian led group carrying out sequencing of the koala genome and it’s genes for direct conservation application. In April 2015 Rebecca was announced as the Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute.

For interviews, contact: Rohan Astley, 02 9320 6086, 0407 215 392, Rohan.Astley@austmus.gov.au 

Paul Flemons – Manager Digital Collections and Citizen Science, The Australian Museum

Organisation: Australian Museum

Paul Flemons knows a thing or two about how pixels can connect people with possums, birds, lizards, bandicoots and all manner of flora and fauna. Paul is Manager of Digital Collections and Citizen Science at the Australian Museum. He created the DigiVol website which enables online volunteers to assist Museums and natural history institutions around the world—including Smithsonian Institute, Kew Gardens and New York Botanical Gardens—in digitising their collections.

Paul has a Bachelor of Science in Botany and a Master of Science in Remote Sensing at the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

For interviews, contact: Rohan Astley, 02 9320 6086, 0407 215 392, Rohan.Astley@austmus.gov.au

Kim McKay AO – Executive Director & CEO, The Australian Museum

Organisation: Australian Museum

Limited availability

Kim McKay is brings a love for nature and an eye for good television together. She’s an Australian environmentalist, author, entrepreneur and international marketing and communications consultant.

Highlights of her international career include co-founding Clean Up Australia Day and the Clean Up the World campaign in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme. She spent seven years working in the USA for Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channels International. She co-created The Genographic Project for National Geographic which traces humankind’s genetic history over the past 60,000 years. She is also the co- author of the ‘True Green’ series of five popular environmental books.

For interviews, contact: Rohan Astley, 02 9320 6086, 0407 215 392, Rohan.Astley@austmus.gov.au

Ruben Meerman – the Surfing Scientist

Organisation: ABC Science

Some availability between school visits and National Science Week events

Ruben is a surfer with a physics degree and a passion for all things scientific.  Ruben is an advocate for literacy, numeracy and science education for all.

The Surfing Scientist often performs scientific demonstrations for school children, usually using liquid nitrogen and other fun visuals in his demonstrations. He is currently working on research on the science of weight loss and researching where does the fat go when you lose weight. He was a reporter on ABC Television’s flagship science program, Catalyst and was the first resident scientist on Play School.

For interviews, contact:

Dr Jenny Martin – science communicator & education; and kangaroo counter

Organisation: University of Melbourne

Jenny Martin loves to talk and write about science. She is a scientist (a wildlife ecologist by training), lecturer in science communication at the University of Melbourne, radio broadcaster on Triple R Breakfasters and Einstein A Go Go, blogger and science writer.

She and her partner Euan Ritchie also crowdfunded a research trip in 2015 to survey kangaroo and wallaby numbers in northern Queensland, hoping to understand how these species are faring across the entirety of tropical Northern Australia in a changing climate.

For interviews, contact:

Dr John La Salle, Director of the Atlas of Living Australia

Organisation: Atlas of Living Australia

Dr John La Salle, Director of the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), has been involved with the ALA since its inception. Originally an entomologist, he now wants to unlock the information stored in Australian biological collections and related biodiversity databases, and make this information accessible and useable online.

John is an internationally recognised insect taxonomist who is a leading figure in adopting emerging technologies to accelerate the processes of taxonomy, species discovery and description, and delivery of information from natural history collections. This huge, rich data pool is generating new efficiencies and possibilities for research, collection management, natural resource management, policy development, land-use planning, education and outreach.

For interviews, contact: 02 6246 4262 or 0419 303 453, john.lasalle@csiro.au

Project-related talent: Bandicoots on the urban fringe (VIC)


A pocket of threatened bandicoots are thriving on urban fringes in south-central Victoria – how are they doing this? And what happens when they start living in drains and eating out of cat food bowls? Help monitor their population and keep an eye on their predators.

Sarah Maclagan – PhD candidate

Organisation: Deakin University

Sarah is a PhD student at Deakin University who’s out to save the endangered bandicoot. She’s interested in how bandicoots can survive or even thrive in relatively ‘unnatural’ habitats on urban fringes. Bandicoots were once common across the Melbourne region, but now Cranbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens has the population closest to the city. Citizen scientists identifying images taken by her research project’s cameras will be helping her research. Her PhD supervisors are Dr Euan Ritchie from Deakin University and Dr Terry Coates from the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne.

Sarah’s interest in zoology began in primary school with a pet axolotl named ‘Humphrey’.  Since then, she’s done field research on frogs, lizards and rainforest possums.


For interviews, contact: Rebecca Tucker, 03 5227 8568, 0418 979 134, rebecca.tucker@deakin.edu.au

Dr Euan Ritchie

Organisation: Deakin University

Euan is an ecologist at Deakin University. He’s particularly interested in the impact that predators have on their environment and ecosystem, the factors limit a species’ ability to thrive in an environment, and the conservation of Australian mammals. He is a co-supervisor of Sarah MacLagan’s PhD research into bandicoots.

He and his partner Jenny Martin also crowdfunded a research trip to survey kangaroo and wallaby numbers in northern Queensland, hoping to understand how these species are faring across the entirety of tropical Northern Australia in a changing climate.

For interviews, contact: Rebecca Tucker, 03 5227 8568, 0418 979 134, rebecca.tucker@deakin.edu.au

Dr Terry Coates – ecologist at Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne

Organisation: Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne

Terry Coates is one of the early adopters of the use of camera traps to monitor wildlife.

Terry is an ecologist at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne, mainly focused on managing the site’s plants and animals against threats. Terry and his colleagues do a lot of monitoring of populations and study how they respond to threats, such as bushfire and pests. One of prime focus of the Gardens is the resident bandicoot population. He is a co-supervisor of Sarah MacLagan’s PhD research into bandicoots.

Sarah’s research is part of a bigger project run through the biosphere—across the region—to develop distribution maps and look at a broad range of species, and including cats and foxes their impacts on native wildlife.

For interviews, contact: Robyn Merrett, 03 9252 2387, marketing@rbg.vic.gov.au

Project-related talent (NT) – Wildlife in the arid lands


What wild things—such as dingos, emus, lizards, spinifex pigeons, kangaroos and mice—are living in the arid lands? Counting animals at waterholes in Watarrka National Park and the desert in Kata Tjuta National Park will help scientists manage these biodiversity hotspots.

Jenny Davis (Watarrka National Park)

Organisation: Charles Darwin University

Jenny is the Head of the School of Environments at Charles Darwin University with 30 years’ experience researching the importance of waterholes in arid land environments, especially in a changing climate.

Jenny can only talk about the Watarrka National Park side of the project.

For interviews, contact:

Jenny Molyneux (Kata Tjuta National Park)

Organisation: Charles Darwin University

Jenny is a PhD candidate at the Charles Darwin University. She is studying how fire impacts the vulnerable brush-tailed mulgara, a small carnivorous marsupial (or dasyurid). These animals have become increasingly harder to find in recent years, because of habitat loss.

Having found that the animals were no longer attracted to the peanut butter and oat lures at her camera traps, Jenny trialled some other monitoring techniques, including using sardines instead.

She can also talk generally about spinifex hopping mouse, cats, dingoes, dunnarts, button quail, zebra finches, great desert skink and sand goannas, which were also part of this project.


For interviews, contact:

Hamish Campbell

Organisation: Charles Darwin University

Hamish Campbell is a wildlife ecologist. His background is in comparative physiology and animal behaviour. He has integrated these disciplines with spatial ecology—the ‘where’ in where the wild things are—to focus a research program within the emerging field of ‘movement ecology’. This discipline is concerned with how animals move in the wild, respond to environmental heterogeneity, and the impact of individual behaviour upon population processes.

For interviews, contact:

Project-related talent – NSW Office of Environment and Heritage  ‘Wildcount’ (NSW)


How many wombats, pademelons, kangaroos, foxes and other animals are out there? We simply don’t know. Help the ‘WildCount’ scientists find out.

Erin Roger, Senior scientist – citizen science

Organisation: NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

Dr Erin Roger is Senior Scientist, Citizen Science at OEH. She is passionate about engaging people with science and the natural environment, and sharing her love and fascination for animals, especially wombats – the subject of her PhD.

For interviews, contact: Sarah Scroope, 02 9995 5347 Sarah.Scroope@environment.nsw.gov.au

Project-related talent – Bettongs in Queensland (QLD)


Northern bettongs in Far North Queensland – Australia’s rat-kangaroo is a rare marsupial. Help scientists work out how many of this threatened species are left.

Jessica Koleck – project coordinator

Organisation: WWF

Unavailable until 8 August (working in the field)

Jess Koleck is coordinator of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia’s northern bettong monitoring project. Northern bettongs are only found in the small strips of land that exist between rainforest areas and dry, arid bushland in north Queensland. They’re listed as endangered under the IUCN Red List. Jess needs your help spotting bettongs, but you’ll need your eyes, and a nose for the difference between bettongs and bandicoots: bettongs have a rounder nose, while bandicoots have a longer, more conical nose.

For interviews, contact: Daniel Rockett, National Media Manager WWF, Drockett@wwf.org.au, 0432 206 592

Darren Grover – Head of Species Conservation

Organisation: WWF

Darren is the Head of Species Conservation and the national spokesperson at WWF Australia. His work in the Kimberley involves working with Indigenous rangers to help conserve species of cultural significance, including rock wallabies, Gouldian finches and bilbies.

For interviews, contact: dgrover@wwf.org.au, 0423 516 430

Project-related talent – Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TAS)


Tasmanian Land Conservancy manages about 15 biodiversity reserves to protect marsupials and other unique Tasmanian species. Help their conservation scientists keep an eye on bandicoots, bettongs and potoroos—and the threats to them, such as feral cats and deer—so they can better manage these sanctuaries for wildlife.

Matthew (Matt) Taylor

Organisation: Tasmanian Land Conservancy

Matt Taylor is a conservation ecologist, making sure that science is central to Tasmanian Land Conservancy’s (TLC) biodiversity management practices.

TLC has about 15 biodiversity reserves and relationships with landholders, working to protect Tasmania’s unique flora and fauna. The TLC is engaged in a range of science-based projects and collaborations, such as our carnivore and ecological monitoring programmes across our reserves.

For interviews, contact: SCahalan@tasland.org.au, 0417 699 917

Stephenie Cahalan

Organisation: Tasmanian Land Conservancy

Stephenie is a Hobart-based communicator, researcher and conservationist who loves wildlife.

For interviews, contact: SCahalan@tasland.org.au, 0417 699 917