The Lab

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

Dr Lynette Loke

Lynette is a postdoctoral researcher presently under a MQ research fellowship at Macquarie University. She is interested in understanding patterns of biodiversity and the processes that shape and create variation in ecological communities. Lynette conducted her PhD research at the Department of Biological Sciences, at the National University of Singapore on the ecological engineering of seawalls, integrating theory and experimentation to test how habitat complexity and fragmentation regulate intertidal communities.

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

Co-supervisors: Dr Ana Bugnot, USyd, Dr Angus Ferguson, DPIE and Dr Deepa Varkey, MQU

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

Co-supervisors: Dr Tom Cresswell, ANSTO, Dr Anthony Chariton, MQU and Dr Beth Penrose, UTas

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.

Anjali Gopakumar

Cotutelle supervisor: Prof Laura Airoldi, UNIBO

Anjali is a Coutelle PhD student affiliated with Macquarie University and University of Bologna. Her research focuses on the ecosystem functions and services of restored saltmarshes in urban seascapes. Prior to her PhD, Anjali completed her Erasmus Mundus Joint Master degree in Marine Biology (IMBRSea) at Ghent University (Belgium), with a fully funded EMJMD scholarship. She also worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Oslo (Norway) for two months, continuing her Master Thesis studies on mercury accumulation in fish from the Northern Barents Sea in the Arctic. Anjali’s diverse research interests also include marine functional biodiversity, trophic interactions in marine food webs and marine conservation.

Dayanitha Damodaran

Co-supervisors: Dr Paul South, Cawthron, Dr Oliver Floerl, Cawthron and Dr Lynette Loke, MQU

Dayanitha is a PhD student associated with Macquarie University and Cawthron Institute (New Zealand). Her research investigates the habitat requirements of native New Zealand foundation species like Perna canaliculus, to inform and produce ecological engineered structures that promote native species over non-indigenous species. Prior to starting her PhD Dayanitha completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Victoria University of Wellington, gained an internship at Becker lab at the University of Washington Tacoma (USA), and spent a semester abroad at the University of East Anglia (UK). Dayanitha completed her Master’s Degree with first class honours, also from Victoria University, in 2020. Her thesis examined the morphological, behavioural and histological responses of two species of marine bivalves to different environmental stressors. She was supported by a Bowen Eye Clinic scholarship and worked part time as an ophthalmic technician and animal technician. After finishing her Master’s Degree Dayanitha worked as a junior fisheries scientist at Dragonfly Data Science.

Luke Walker

Co-supervisors: Dr Paul Gribben, UNSW, Dr Ziggy Marzinelli, USyd and Dr Tim Glasby, DPI Fisheries

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

Co-supervisors: Dr Ana Bugnot, USyd and Dr Deepa Varkey, MQU

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.

Elena Gialdi

Elena holds a Master in Marine Biology from the Polytechnic University of Marche (Italy) studying the levels of bioaccumulation of PAHs and their metabolism in fish species of commercial interest in the Mediterranean. After graduation, she received the Campus World scholarship carrying out a collaborative project between Macquarie University and UNSW that involves visiting multiple estuaries along the east coast of Australia and sediment sampling for the characterization of infaunal and microbial communities. Since mid-2020, Elena has been working as a research assistant in Lake Macquarie to study environmentally-friendly strategies for coastal protection in lakes and lagoons, analyzing the biodiversity and important processes that differ between cobble-stabilized, unmodified and seawall shoreline types.