The Lab

The Aquatic and Coastal Environmental Sciences (ACES) Lab @ Macquarie University

Dr Nina Schaefer

Nina is a research associate affiliated with Macquarie University and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science. She completed her PhD in marine biology in 2019 at the University of New South Wales. Her research focusses on natural and artificial habitats in urban environments, with a focus on informing eco-friendly marine infrastructure designs. She is interested in how artificial structures can be designed to increase the diversity of associated communities, while minimising negative impacts such as the establishment of invasive species. In her research she is using existing literature, and a combination of large-scale surveys and small- and large-scale field experiments to provide a rigorous scientific basis and testing for these designs.

Ronal Lal

Ronal Lal completed his Master’s Degree in Marine Biology at the University of the South Pacific (Fiji Islands) studying the effects of nearshore pollutants on coral recruitment and diversity. Ronal’s avid interests also reside within the technical and logistical aspects of oceanographic monitoring equipment deployment. He is currently working as a Research Assistant under Dr. Katherine Dafforn working on estimating biodiversity on cobblestone, natural beaches, and in front of seawalls, as well as conducting laboratory work for ongoing projects at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science. He is currently developing a research proposal in view of obtaining a PhD scholarship in 2021 working with Dr. Katherine Dafforn in the area of molecular microbiology

Giulia Filippini

Giulia Filippini completed her Master’s Degree in Marine Biology at the Polytechnic University of Marche (Italy) studying the interactive effects of climate change and pollutants on the gene expression in the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis. Since her degree, she has been awarded three scholarships (Campus World Scholarship, Sydney Institute of Marine Science Scholarship and Northern Beaches Research Funding) and she recently began a PhD at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia). Giulia’s research focusses on benthic metabolism, nutrient cycling and microbial communities in coastal habitats.

Amy MacIntosh

Amy MacIntosh is currently showcasing methods and assessments to understand anthropogenic contamination (trace metals, naturally occurring radioactive materials) and their bioavailability, biokinetics and toxic effects on marine and terrestrial wildlife. She incorporate the fields of chemistry, toxicology and ecology to address toxicological effects of radioisotopes on Australian marine fauna. She is researching to build an environmental and ecological based risk assessment framework for sustainable decommissioning of petroleum structures in Australia.

Originally from Scotland and being brought up in New Zealand, she had a strong passion for studying animals by following the footsteps of her inspiration, Sir David Attenborough. She obtained a Bachelors of Science in Zoology and Geography at the University of Otago followed by a Honours in Zoology/Wildlife Ecology at the University of Tasmania.

Luke Walker

Luke is a currently studying a Master of Research at Macquarie University after finishing his Bachelor of Marine Science in 2018 also at Macquarie university. Luke’s research project focuses on seagrass restoration including seagrass ecology and microbiomes. Luke’s broader research interests also include oceanography and marine climate, marine geochemistry, palaeoceanography, and marine conservation. Luke has experience using various research methods including; grainsize analysis using Malvern Mastersizer, DNA analysis (sediments), analysis of rare earth elements through column chemistry and thermal imaging mass spectroscopy (TIMS), hydro-chemical analysis, plankton hauls and identification, foraminiferal identification, and marine bird and mammal identification.

Julia Palmer

Julia recently completed her bachelor of marine science at Macquarie University and has just commenced the 1st year of her master of research, also at Macquarie University. Her 1st year masters research looks at current and restored oyster reefs and how they affect biogeochemical cycles in surrounding sediments. The undergraduate research projects Julia has completed include; the use of polychaetes as bioindicators of heavy metal pollution, the influence of oyster reefs on benthic fauna richness and abundance, and creating benthic chambers to attain in situ biochemical readings from ecologically engineered sea walls. Julia’s other interests include marine conservation, ecological engineering, nutrient cycling in coastal ecosystems, marine algae, molluscs and marine worms, coastal oceanography, marine heatwaves and paleobiology.