Over the last few months a number of QAECO members have submitted their PhDs and several more will be submitting early this year. To celebrate their success, we’re going to tell you a little bit about some of them. First cab off the rank is Darren Southwell
Darren began his PhD in the QAECO lab in March 2012, after working with the Bimini Biological Field Station, Australian Antarctic Division and Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. The systems he has studied in his PhD are almost as diverse as the places he’s worked.
Supervised by Mick McCarthy, Brendan Wintle and Eve McDonald-Madden, Darren has studied Bay Checkerspot Butterflies, Cane Toads and Growling Grass Frogs through the lens of metapopulation modelling. Current management projects attempt to preserve Bay Checkerspot Butterfly and Growling Grass Frog and stop the spread of Cane Toads. His thesis identifies which management actions are optimal for each case study and when those actions should be implemented.
Darren managed to finish his PhD in January 2016 after 3 years and 10 months, an impressive task given that he spent three of those months visiting labs and attending conferences in London, Berlin and Helsinki and he took almost a month of holidays while his supervisors completed their last round of feedback (a strategy which is now known as ‘doing a Darren’).
Despite Darren’s laid-back demeanour, his PhD wasn’t all clean sailing. Everything from plotting a figure to preparing a talk took 5 times longer than planned and he was lucky to survive his fieldwork in the Pilbara, where logistics meant long periods between food purchases as well as inadequate refrigeration.
Now Darren is on to bigger and better things although we are pleased to report that he is staying in the QAECO family. He is now one of our post-docs, working on adaptive management and monitoring for Mallee-fowl at a desk less than 20 paces from where he studied his PhD. Congratulations Darren and good luck!!