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Threads of life: Unravelling biodiversity's complexity across disciplines

How can we balance the need to halt biodiversity loss against human needs for shelter, fuel, and nutrition? Could a more multidisciplinary approach help?

How can we balance the efforts needed to halt biodiversity loss, against the human and societal needs for shelter, fuel, nutrition and more? Could a more multidisciplinary approach help us understand the issue and work together and unravel the complexities of biodiversity? 

Sustainability at Sydney and Sydney Environment Institute collaborate to deliver this multidisciplinary event, demonstrating how biodiversity is considered across diverse research fields. Understanding the intersectionality between these disparate fields can help us find a pathway to a future where it is not the case of needing to choose between humans or the environment, but one in which all life can flourish.  

Biodiversity is an integral component of healthy ecosystems, underpins the global economy, and is an essential part of the solution to climate change. Yet, conserving biodiversity whilst simultaneously seeking to use it for humanity’s needs is an exceptional challenge. Repositioning biodiversity from a nice to have, to a critical global issue, and understanding biodiversity through different lenses is crucial to the future of our planet.  

At this event, step into a world of diverse perspectives and insights as our academic experts converge for a captivating panel discussion in celebration of Biodiversity Month. From zoos and geoscience, to genetics, law, and culture & politics, this event promises to be an informative journey through the multifaceted dimensions of biodiversity. Join us as we unite these diverse academic voices to explore how their work interacts with and impacts our environment, our lives, and our future. This event will be a unique opportunity to broaden your horizons, gain fresh insights, and contribute to the conversation about safeguarding our planet's natural heritage. 


Ed Couzens – Environmental Law Professor 

Associate Professor Ed Couzens is a Lecturer in Environmental Law and International Law at the University of Sydney Law School. His main research interests are in biodiversity protection of both marine and terrestrial environments, as well as the complex management of alien invasive species and governance of migratory species. His work also examines the practicalities of integrating international environmental conventions within the legal frameworks of individual nations, bridging global ideals with local impact. 

Tristan Salles – Computational Geophysicist 

Dr Tristan Salles is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Geosciences.  He leads the EarthColab group and works on a broad range of projects centred on Earth surface processes, including sediment transport and sedimentary systems, geodynamic and landscape evolution, carbonate platforms and ocean dynamics. He develops open-source and cross-platform software that drive innovative research in tectonic geomorphology and coastal environments. Coupled with 3D tectonic code and harnessing high-performance computers, he can simulate the evolution of landscapes, providing a unique opportunity to bridge the sciences of geomorphology and biodiversity. 

Lauren Cole – Conservation Lecturer 

Dr Lauren Cole is an Associate Lecturer for Taronga Conservation Society Australia. She works closely with Taronga and the University of Sydney to design and deliver an undergraduate degree in wildlife conservation. She has worked across Australia and the USA in conservation research and education. She is passionate about conservation and has focused her career on inspiring the next generation of conservation champions. Lauren holds a PhD Aquatic Ecology, an MEd in Conservation Education, and a BSc in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. 

Thom Van Dooren – Field Philosopher 

Associate Professor Thom Van Dooren is Deputy Director at the Sydney Environment Institute and an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities at the University of SydneyHis research is based in the broad interdisciplinary field of the environmental humanities, with particular grounding in environmental philosophy, cultural studies, and science and technology studies. His research and writing focus on some of the many philosophical, ethical, cultural, and political issues that arise in the context of species extinctions and human entanglements with threatened species and places.   

Catherine Grueber – Genetic Scientist

Associate Professor Catherine Grueber, from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, investigates the complex interactions between evolutionary and management processes in small populations, with a focus on genetic diversity. With expertise in molecular population genetics, she examines the evolutionary consequences of genetic diversity loss including impacts from captive breeding, inbreeding depression, genetic rescue, and immune-gene diversity. Through harnessing advanced genetic and analytical tools, she aims to gain fresh insights into endangered species' genetic diversity and contribute to conservation efforts for threatened species. 

Moderator – Eliza Middleton – Ecological Data Scientist 

Dr Eliza Middleton is the Biodiversity Management Officer for the University of Sydney. Her role encompasses the conservation and sustainable management practices of biodiversity on all University of Sydney owned land, as well as providing expert analysis and recommendations on the impacts of proposed development to biodiversity. Her work aims to balance the complex needs of research, teaching, business, with the paramount need to prioritise the environment. She is also passionate about education and outreach, and is a Superstar of STEM.

Event details

Join in person:

Thursday 21 September 2023
2.00PM - 3.30PM
Seminar Room 650, Social Sciences Building (A02) Camperdown NSW 2050
Register now