Our Team

Dr Kirsti Abbott

Scientist

Kirsti is an ant ecologist and science educator at University of New England in Armidale, NSW. After spending many years looking at tiny insects on tropical islands she now coordinates School of Ants Australia, and in 2015 is travelling around Australia with School of Ants and her family. To get her going on a good rant, ask her about the amount of time primary school kids get outside looking and learning about nature, or the general lack of enthusiasm for bugs these days…..

Dr Kirsti Abbott

Associate Professor Nigel Andrew

Scientist

Associate Professor Nigel is an insect ecologist based in Zoology at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW. He spends much of his time studying how insect biology changes along environmental gradients (latitude, altitude, climatic, agricultural): particularly their ecology, physiology and behaviour. His current research focuses on the impact of climate change on dung beetles, ants and insect-plant interactions. Nigel teaches Entomology and Insect –Plant Interactions at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and leads a dynamic lab that includes researchers working on interlinked topics insect ecology, physiology and behaviour.

Associate Professor Nigel Andrew

Professor Mark Elgar

Scientist

Mark is an evolutionary biologist, who teaches evolution and animal behaviour at the University of Melbourne, VIC. He is broadly curious and, as a consequence, his research investigates many different topics about the behaviour and ecology of diverse species, mostly insects and spiders. He has a long-term interest in ants – especially how they organize their lives among themselves and in partnership with other species, and is in awe of the capacity of science to answer questions.  Mark is enthusiastic about taking science to the wider community, writing popular articles and co-teaching an open access, online subject on animal behaviour.

Professor Mark Elgar

Danielle Mills-Waterfield

Illustrator

Danielle is one of our student artists in residence at School of Ants. She graduated in March 2015 with a Bachelor of Zoology from UNE, where she has continued studying Paleobiology, with a strong interest to continue onto postgraduate research into the intellect of urban and nonurban living corvids, including crows. Danielle currently works as an illustrator, commissioned to create both fantastical and realistic avatars and art works, and is keen to work in the illustrated and animated reconstruction of extinct animals, combining her zoological and artistic skills. Martial arts keeps her active and busy in her ‘spare’ time!

Danielle Mills-Waterfield

Melissa Jones

Illustrator

Melissa is also an artist in residence with School of Ants

Melissa Jones

Dr. Elizabeth Broese van Groenou

Scientist

Liz is an ecologist and environmental consultant who started studying ants in pre-Sahara southern Tunisia in 1973. Her research background in the study of harvester ant population energy budgets in western NSW and native plant regeneration processes in the Northern Tablelands have helped develop her interest in the complex interactions between ants and plants.

Over the past 15 years Liz worked as an environmental consulant on a number of biodiversity assessment and vegetation management projects. Liz is currently one of our amazing School of Ants team members working on the curation and identification of ants at UNE.
Dr. Elizabeth Broese van Groenou

Steve Tremont

Scientist

Steve has had a lifelong interest in adventure and zoology, and for most of his adult life he has worked professionally as a wilderness guide and a fauna consultant, travelling to many remote regions within Australia, Antarctica and Sub-Antarctic islands. These two professions have melded into the most perfect job in the world for him – being outdoors and observing the animal wonders therein. Steve recently changed career direction by starting a PhD at UNE with the Insect Ecology Lab studying the diversity and taxonomy of ants in northeast NSW. He is our resident regional ant expert with the School of Ants team, identifying and curating ants from all over the country.

Steve Tremont

Matt McKenzie

Thalgarrah Environmental Education Centre

Matt is the current principal of Thalgarrah Environmental Education Centre, just outside Armidale NSW. He learnt to love the great outdoors as a youngster as he followed his older brother on many an adventure into the bush.  A move to Dubbo gave him an opportunity for virtually his dream job, and a permanent position as the teacher at the Environmental Education Centre in Dubbo. As Principal at Thalgarrah EEC he shares his love for the forest and the river with students from around the New England Tablelands and beyond.

Matt McKenzie

John McQueen

Cascade Environmental Centre

John heads up the Cascade EEC, located just outside Dorrigo, NSW, where students from around the region can experience environmental and sustainable education in a rainforest setting. John always wanted to be Harry Butler and spent lots of time playing in the bush and around his local creek as a kid. He ended up going to university to study science, leisure management and education, which turned out to be a great combination for environmental education! John has been a classroom teacher in Newcastle but now believes he has the best job on earth, sharing nature with children….and he still gets to play at his local creek!

John McQueen


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