Expectations for our Postgraduate Students

The postgraduate program has been developed to facilitate interactions between all members of the E&ERC. Broad participation of E&ERC students and staff enhances the experience of postgraduate students through increasing collaboration (and socialising) and promoting the transfer of skills between centre members. Postgraduate students are expected to participate in the E&ERC functions, and attend research seminars and the postgraduate research forum.

As a general rule, all postgraduate students should be attending the majority of E&ERC seminars, both regular seminars in the E&ERC series (Fridays, every other week) and special seminars given by visiting scientists. Students should also anticipate participating in at least one E&ERC workshop during their tenure and attend at least one E&ERC event each year that does not include specialty workshops. Active participation in postgraduate events is an important aspect of life as a postgraduate student, and is also taken into consideration during deliberations for E&ERC’s annual prizes and other awards.

Postgraduate Research Forum

Twice each year, the research activities of students are featured in the E&ERC Postgraduate Forum. Presentations from students across the centre, and associated social events, promote the effective communication of science and allow students to receive valuable feedback from fellow students and academics. The first forum will be held in June 2015, and the second in November (usually the week after the last teaching week of each session). All students are expected to attend, organising their research (i.e. fieldwork commitments) well in advance of these dates.

E&ERC Research Seminars

The Centre features regular research seminars on alternate Friday afternoons (3 pm, Mathews Theatre D) by resident and visiting academics and research fellows. Attendance at these seminars is considered essential for exposure to wide variety of evolutionary and ecological research topics, critical thinking beyond a student’s individual project and gaining potential contacts.

Seminars are coordinated by A/Prof Shinichi Nakagawa (s.nakagawa@unsw.edu.au). Students should check the E&ERC website for dates and times of upcoming seminars.

Distinguished Visitor Program

The E&ERC hosts extended visits from distinguished research scientists. The visitors will give research presentations, participate in workshops and discussions, meet individually with research students, and attend dinners or other social events. Once a year our visitor will be part of a Diversity in Science program. The aims of this program are to showcase excellent science, highlight and address issues associated with diversity in science and to workshop strategies for career success. This program is targeted especially at early career researchers.

One of the distinguished visitors each year will be selected by the postgraduate students, offering an opportunity for students to meet important researchers relevant to their field and make important contacts (i.e., potential employers of postdocs). Students with ideas for potential visitors should contact A/Prof. Shinichi Nakagawa (s.nakagawa@unsw.edu.au) with their suggestions.

Previous distinguished visitors have included:

Prof Martin Thiel, Universidad Catolica del Norte (2015)
Dr Sasha Dall, University of Exeter (2015)
Prof Maciej Boni, Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Ho Chi Minh City
Prof. Jeffrey Schwartz, University of Pittsburgh (2014)
Prof. Martin Daly, University of Missouri (2014)
Prof. Donald Baird, University of New Brunswick (2014)
Prof. Felisa Smith, University of New Mexico (2013)
Prof. Terrie Williams, University of California, Santa Cruz (2013)
Prof. Ken Heck (Dauphin Island Sea Lab, USA (2012)
Prof. Rodolfo Dirzo, Stanford University (2011)
Prof. Judy Stamps, University of California at Davis (2010)
Prof. Jonathan Losos, Harvard University (2010)
Prof. Troy Day, Queen’s University (2010)

Conferences and Meetings

The E&ERC hosts short conferences on areas of research strength. In these conferences, academics and postgrads from the E&ERC, and other Australian and global researchers present seminars and participate in discussion groups on current and future research directions in that research area.

Previous conferences hosted by the E&ERC have included:

2014: "Phenotypic Variation and Evolution" Symposium organised by Dr Lisa Schwanz. This was held on 15 & 16 September. Speakers included: Prof Mark Blows (UQ), Dr Carla Sgro (Monash), Dr Matt Hall (Monash), A/Prof Glenda Wardle (Usyd), Prof Ben Oldroyd (Usyd), Dr Adrienne Nicotra (ANU), A/Prof Simon Griffith (Mq)

2014: "Meta-analysis and Data compilation" workshop, held 2-4 April 2014 and organised by Dr Habacuc Flores-Moreno. Presenters included A/Prof Shinichi Nakagawa and Dr Will Cornwell.

2014:"Cooperation and conflict in the family"organised by Centre Director, Prof Rob Brooks and Jason Collins (UWA). This conference was held, 2-5 February 2014, it brought together leading economic and evolutionary researchers to explore the nature of conflict and cooperation between the sexes in the areas of marriage, mating and fertility.

2013: "Colour Analysis" workshop, was held 14 & 15 November 2013 and organised by Dr Michael Kasumovic. This workshop covered the different techniques currently available for analysing colour data. A hyperspectral camera was available to see how well it works under different laboratory and field scenarios for different types of animals, plants and non-living organisms.

2013: "Women in science" a career building workshop for women in academia was held on 18 September as part of the Distinguished Visitor Program that was hosted by A/Prof Tracey Rogers. 

2013: "Mammals response to change", this conference was part of the Distinguished Visitor Program that was hosted by A/Prof Tracey Rogers. It was held on 20 September and brought together researchers and academics from Australia and USA.

2013: "New opportunities at the Interface between Ecology and Statistics", a 2 day Eco-stats symposium was organised by A/Prof David Warton 11 & 12 July 2013.

2012: "Shifting species interactions and the tropicalisation of temperate marine ecosystems", which brought together ecologists and oceanographers from Australia, USA, Japan and Spain to discuss and review the ecological impacts of climate-mediated changes in species interactions.

2011: “Mini-conference: Marine bioinvasions in a variable world” (convened by Dr. Melanie Bishop from Macquarie University and Associate Professor Emma Johnston from the E&ERC). This mini-conference spanned the topics of the physico-chemical and biotic controls of marine bioinvasion, the biogeography of marine bioinvasion and marine bioinvasion in a changing climate.

2009: “The Invasion Occasion” (organised by the Angela Moles and her students), a 1-day conference on the evolution and ecology of invasive species.

Postgraduate committee

The aim of this committee is to get more postgraduates involved actively in the research community, and to institute some new postgrad-focused programs in 2016.

A team of 5 postgraduate students from different labs will work with the academics, and lead the building of that research community.

Responsibilities of this committee include: building student participation in Centre activities, arranging and hosting student-invited speakers, including dinners, meetings, instigating a social program focused on integrating new postgrads and creating a sense of belonging.

The 2016 team includes Teagan Gale, Amy Hooper, Kobe Martin, Nina Schaefer and Thomas Summers.

Social functions

The centre hosts regular social events associated with the Postgraduate Research Forum, visits by distinguished scientists and final seminars by completing postgraduate students.  In addition, the E&ERC hosts some less formal social events such as the Quiz and Cuisine night, and beginning of year mixers.


There is more to developing a research career than simply finishing a postgraduate degree. With experienced mentors, we aim to provide resources and advice for students at various steps along the pathway to a research career. The most tangible way the centre achieves this is through special interest courses in which faculty and senior postgraduates provide advice on various aspects of a successful research career, including funding opportunities, grant writing, research networking, and finding employment. These courses are recurrent and will generally overlap a student’s tenure within the graduate program. Nevertheless, new students should feel free to contact Dr. Terry Ord (t.ord@unsw.edu.au) to express interest in any past courses that have not been run recently, or to propose ideas for any new, future courses that might be run by the centre.


Download the E&ERC Graduate Program Handbook