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Organising committee

The Victorian Biodiversity Conference is organised by postgraduate students, early-career researchers and professionals from a diverse range of Victorian institutions. If you're interested in joining the team to help with future conferences, feel free to contact us.


The committee for the Victorian Biodiversity Conference 2024 includes:

A smiling brown-haired woman is standing in front of a wetland

Aviya Naccarella

Deakin University

Aviya is Co-Chair of the VicBioCon24 Committee and is a PhD candidate researching interactions between fungus-feeding mammals, fungi and plants. She is examining what role fungus-feeding mammals play in maintaining ecosystem processes and functions, and how we can apply this knowledge to conservation projects.


A smiling woman wearing sunglasses, a blue hat and striped shirt holds a reptile

Sally Burgemeestre (she/her)

Deakin University

Sally is Co-Chair of the VicBioCon24 Committee and is a PhD candidate studying the interactions between feral ungulates and native animals in subalpine and alpine landscapes. She is particularly interested in how feral horses influence small mammal persistence and habitat using a combination of live trapping, camera trapping, GPS tracking and genetic analyses. This research will hope to inform best practice management techniques and help managers to understand the impacts feral ungulates exert on native communities. 

A woman in a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses is smiling as a long sandy track stretches far behind her

Ange Pestell (she/her)

Deakin University

Ange is a PhD candidate studying the interactions of fire and wildlife in a semi-arid landscape. She is investigating how fire history affects wildlife community composition using camera traps. This research will help fire managers plan for wildlife responses to fire in planned burn and bushfire scenarios.

A woman is smiling from under a blue scarf that shades her head, shoulders and arms.

Xenia Münger (she/her)

Monash University

Xenia is a PhD candidate studying the effectiveness of models in predicting the genetic outcomes of translocations. Her work involves developing an individual-based model, to validate it with a hindcasting strategy and to subsequently forecast various translocation options. This research aims to provide practical insights for evidence-based metapopulation management.

A smiling, brown-haired woman wearing a white long-sleeved top stands on the beach

Aislinn Primmer

Monash University

Aislinn is an Honours Student in the Integrative Cognition Ecology and Bio-Inspiration Lab at Monash University. Her research is focusing on the personality of native Australian bees. She is investigating whether the activity, boldness and exploratory behaviour of native bees differs across an urbanisation gradient.

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Pip Bell (she/her)

University of Melbourne

Pip is a second year Ph.D. student at the University of Melbourne, her research in urban ecology is aimed towards making our cities more liveable for both nature and people. She is currently investigating the effectiveness of nature strips for insect and bird conservation by planting habitat gardens on nature strips in Melbourne’s north. She hopes to find ecological value in these novel green spaces, and encourage others to take advantage of urban spaces for conservation.

A smiling woman wearing a black beanie and red scarf is standing amongst ferns in a forest

Ashlen Campbell

University of Melbourne

Ashlen completed her honours in zoology at the University of Melbourne in 2020. She now works for the University’s Museums and Collections as a science communicator, with the goal of helping people to become more engaged in a wide variety of scientific topics.


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Michael Traurig

Deakin University

Michael is a PhD student at Deakin university with supervisors from Deakin, The University of Melbourne, CSIRO and ACT government. Michael works on finding links between changes of ecosystems due to both natural and anthropogenic pressure and how those changes impact human well-being through their changed capacity to provide ecosystem services. Michael's skills and interests are centered around data analysis, modelling and spatial analysis. Michael is also a research assistant where he works on the impacts of plastic debris on coastal environments and is supervising an honours student in this field of research.

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Kim Bannister

Deakin University

Kim recently completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) at Deakin University. She currently works for Deakin as a Research Assistant on ecological surveys, and as a Wild Encounters Ranger at Healesville Sanctuary. Kim is looking forward to starting Honours in
2024 with the Applied Ecology and Conservation Research group
at Deakin.

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