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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:


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.



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. 

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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.


Ella Loeffler (she/her)


Ella completed her honours in Wildlife Conservation at Deakin University in 2018. She is now a Biodiversity Project Officer at the Department of Energy, Environment, and Climate Action.


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.

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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.


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.

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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.



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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Beth Hebdon

University of Melbourne

After receiving a bachelor of zoology from the University of New England, Beth completed a Graduate Certificate of Science specialising in Zoology with the University of Melbourne and is
continuing with a Master of Environment, specialising in restoration and conservation. During this time, she is focusing her efforts on assisting others with fieldwork and community volunteering.


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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