Curriculum vitae

Michael Whitehead

McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow
School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne

 

Qualifications

July 19th 2013: PhD Australian National University (ANU).

The evolutionary biology of pollination: studies in an Australian genus of sexually deceptive orchids. Primary supervisor: Rod Peakall

2000 – 2004: BSc (Hons 1st class) Biological Science University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Population genetic structure and evolutionary dynamics of Elaeocarpus reticulatus in New South Wales. Supervisors: Bill Sherwin (UNSW), Maurizio Rossetto & Darren Crayn (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney)

 

Research and teaching appointments

May 2016 – present: McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Pollination and adaptation in the Australian flora. University of Melbourne.

Mar 2016 – Aug 2016: Endeavour Postdoctoral Fellowship: Global plant-mating systems meta-analysis. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA.

Apr 2013 – Jan 2016: Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Above and below ground interactions in Caladenia spider orchids. The Australian National University / Kings Park Botanic Garden

Nov 2012 – Mar 2014: Postdoctoral Scholar: Floral community colour and pollination in the South African orchid flora. University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Aug 2007– Dec 2007: Research Assistant: Invasion genetics of European Starlings. University of New South Wales

Mar 2007 – Jun 2007: Research Assistant: DNA barcoding of Australian flora. Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Mar 2005 – Feb 2007: Research Assistant: Empirical tests of population genetics theory, and technician; Molecular Ecology and Evolution Facility. University of New South Wales

 

Research interests

Broad research interests include: Pollination ecology, plant adaptation, gene flow, speciation, sensory ecology.

Specific research interests: The effect of pollinator behavior on plant gene flow, mycorrhizal interaction networks in terrestrial orchids, orchid pollination, floral adaptation and specialization in plant-pollinator interactions, conservation and management of pollinator service.

 

Research skills

My research occupies the intersection of plant evolutionary ecology, pollinator behavior and sensory ecology. This diverse field of research has given me the opportunity to develop a broad and multidisciplinary skill set in the biological sciences. Specific skills include field ecology methods, population genetic analysis, experimental design, mark-recapture methodologies, phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data, analysis of colour and vision modelling, fungal culture and microbiological techniques.

  

Research grants awarded

2017: Hermon Slade Foundation ($53 994 AUD)

MR Whitehead: Plant biodiversity and adaptation in a changing world: the effects of animal pollinators

2016: McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellowship ($286 000 AUD)

2016: Endeavour Postdoctoral Research Fellowship ($20 000 AUD)

2014: Australian Orchid Foundation  ($10 000 AUD)

MR Whitehead, Rod Peakall, Kingsley Dixon, Celeste Linde: Below ground diversity in an orchid biodiversity hotspot.

2012: Percy Sladen Memorial Fund grant (£750 GBP)

MR Whitehead: Are pollinators of rewardless flowers betrayed by learning or instinct?

2008 – 2010: Australian Pacific Science Foundation Research Grant                                  ($30 000 AUD)

MR Whitehead and R Peakall: Gene flow in Australian sexually deceptive orchids

  

Teaching roles and supervision

2017:

  • Guest lecturer (2 lectures) for University of Melbourne first year biology: plant reproduction and plant growth and development
  • Co-supervisor for ANU MPhil student on orchid mycorrhizal interactions project

2016:

  • Co-supervisor for ANU MPhil student on orchid mycorrhizal interactions project

2015:

  • Lecturer and curriculum development for 2nd year Field Studies in Functional Ecology
  • Guest lecturer and curriculum development for 2nd year Introductory Genetics

2014:

  • Convener and sole lecturer for invited 2-day graduate-level international workshop on population genetic analysis at University of Cape Town.
  • Convener and sole lecturer for invited 2-day graduate-level workshop on population genetic analysis at University of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Tutor for 1-day national graduate workshop: “Genetic Analysis for Population Studies”, Genetics Society of Australasia conference.

2013:

  • Tutor for 1-day national graduate workshop: “Genetic Analysis for Population Studies”, Genetics Society of Australasia conference

2011:

  • Tutor and lab leader for 3rd year Population Genetics, ANU
  • Lab demonstrator 2nd year course Australian Plant Diversity, ANU
  • Tutor and lab demonstrator 2nd year Introductory Genetics, ANU

2010:

  • Tutor and lab leader for 3rd year Population Genetics, ANU
  • Tutor and lab demonstrator 2nd year Introductory Genetics, ANU
  • Lab demonstrator for 1st year biology, ANU

2009:

  • Tutor for 5-day national graduate workshop: “Genetic Analysis for Population Studies”, ANU
  • Tutor and lab leader for MSc-level Molecular Techniques course, ANU
  • Tutor and lab demonstrator for 3rd year Population Genetics, ANU
  • Tutor and lab demonstrator 2nd year Introductory Genetics, ANU
  • Lab demonstrator for 1st year biology, ANU

2008:

  • Lab demonstrator for 3rd year Population Genetics, ANU
  • Tutor for MSc-level Molecular Techniques course, ANU
  • Tutor and lab demonstrator for 2nd year Introductory Genetics, ANU
  • Lab demonstrator for 1st year biology, ANU

 

Invited talks

2017   Department seminar, School of Life Sciences, La Trobe University.

2017   Department seminar, School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne.

2016    Department seminar, University of Missouri-St. Louis.

2016    Department seminar, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2016    Department seminar, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

2015    Department seminar, Centre for Integrative Ecology, Deakin University.

2014    Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, Lieden, The Netherlands.

2014    British and French Ecological Society Meeting, Lille, France.

2014    Department seminar, Centre for Evolutionary Biology, University of Western Australia.

2014    Department seminar, Evolution Ecology and Genetics, The Australian National University.

2012    Department seminar, School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia.

2012    Department seminar, School of Biological Science, Macquarie University.

2012    Department seminar, Evolution Ecology and Genetics, The Australian National University.

 

Workshop and conference presentations

2017   International Botanical Congress, Shenzhen, China, “Linking pollinator behaviour and plant gene flow:”

2015    Australasian Mycological Society meeting, Canberra, “Species delimitation in cryptic spider orchid symbionts”

2014    Orchid researchers workshop, The Australian National University, “Mycorrhizal diversity and interactions in an orchid hotspot”

2013    South African Association of Botanists conference, Drakensville, South Africa “Sexual mimicry in sympatric orchid species promotes outcrossing, multiple paternity and reproductive isolation”

2013    International Congress on Orchid Conservation, Réunion Island “Reproductive isolation in morphologically cryptic, sympatric taxa of Australian orchids”

2011    European Society for Evolutionary Biology Conference, Tubingen, Germany “The mating habits of Australian sexually deceptive orchids”

2011    International Botany Congress, Melbourne, title as above

2011    Workshop: New research tools for illuminating the ecology and evolution of orchids, Melbourne, “Multidisciplinary measurements of pollen flow in sexually deceptive orchids”

2010    Genetics Society of Australasia, Canberra, “Gene flow within and between sympatric sexually deceptive orchid taxa”

2009    Australasian Evolution Society, Canberra, “Novel methods for mating system analysis in sexually deceptive orchids”

2009    Evolution – the Experience, Melbourne, “Gene flow in Australian sexually-deceptive orchids”

 

Travel grants awarded

2017: Botany Foundation early-career travel award ($1500 AUD)

2017: Ian Potter Conference travel grant: ($1400 AUD)

2014: Vice Chancellor’s early career travel grant ($2100 AUD)

2011: Vice Chancellor’s conference travel grant ($1500 AUD)

2009: Vice Chancellor’s travel grant ($2000 AUD)

2007: Vice Chancellor’s field work grant ($1500 AUD)

 

Awards/honours

2017: Best Talk (People’s Choice) – BioScience Early-Career Researcher Symposium

2012: Nominated for graduate medal by PhD thesis examiner

2009: Best student talk prize, Evolution 09: Biennial meeting of the Australasian Evolution Society

2009: Student talk prize, ANU Botany and Zoology postgraduate research forum

 

Professional service and affiliations

2017     School safety committee, building emergency coordinator.

2010 – 2011 Postgraduate student representative for Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, ANU

 

Conference organisation and committee:

2015    Australian Mycology Society Annual Conference

2011    Research Tools for Illuminating the Ecology and Evolution of the Orchids

2010    Research School Biology Annual Postgraduate Conference

2010    Genetics Society of Australia Annual Meeting

2009    Australasian Evolution Society Conference

 

Peer review

Evolution, Annals of Botany, Functional Ecology, BMC Evolutionary Biology, Journal of Ecology, Behavioural Ecology, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, Australian Journal of Botany, Current Zoology, Austral Ecology, Plant Species Biology

 

Public outreach and communication

2017     Seminar: Botany Foundation, Melbourne: “Sex, lies and pollination: Deception and mimicry in Australian orchids.”

2016    Popular science article: “Australia’s Sexual Swindlers: When Cheating Pays” appearing in Wildlife Australia

2015    Seminar: Canberra Skeptics, Canberra, “Sex, lies and nectar: Evolutionary biology as written by flowers”

2013    Seminar: Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, “The empty promises and false advertisements of orchid pollination”

2013    Seminar: Questacon National Science Centre, Canberra, “Confessions of a science photographer”

2008    Workshop participant “Communicating Science to Peers and Public”. Workshop, Centre for Public Awareness of Science, Australian National University.

  • I am a natural history photographer; my images have won awards and appeared in field guides, museums (Australia, Singapore and Germany), Australian Geographic, University promotional material and journal articles.
  • I have discussed my work on ABC radio, on the “Breaking Bio” podcast. Australian newspapers and international science news websites reported my mark-recapture methods paper.
  • I maintain a professional online presence, with over 1400 Twitter followers (@Mikey_Whitehead), blog and website.
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