Monica Gruber PhD
Meghan Cooling PhD
Ganges Lim MSc
Evan Brenton-Rule BSc (Hons) LLB
Monica Gruber leads our programme. Since 2008 she has contributed to various invasive ant activities in Australia, New Zealand, Tokelau, Kiribati, Samoa, French Polynesia and Fiji. Monica oversees the MFAT funded Activity Building resilience to biosecurity threats from invasive ants throughout the Pacific. She conceived of and led the development of the Pacific Invasive Ant Toolkit. Her research includes searching for novel candidates for bio-control of social insects.
Professor Phil Lester is the group's Principal Scientist. Phil works on the population dynamics, ecology and control of social insects (ants, bees and wasps). His work on invasive ants in the Pacific began in Tokelau in 2002. He leads the Novel Invertebrate Pest Control Technologies programme in the National Science Challenge. Phil’s research goals include developing socially acceptable, cost-effective, and targeted next-generation technologies, tools, and strategies to control invertebrate pests in natural and production ecosystems to protect taonga species and minimise risk to production.
Meghan Cooling's PhD work studied population declines of yellow crazy ants. She has worked on ecological field surveys in Hawaii, Canada and Australia. Meghan plays a major role in the on-going development of the Pacific Invasive Ant Toolkit. She has also assisted with ant control work in Tokelau.
Tamlyn McKenzie completed a Masters degree in Conservation Biology at Victorai Unviersity in 2016. Passionate about conservation and outreach, Tamlyn volunteers with The Society of Conservation Biology and New Zealand Forest & Bird Society have allowed me to work closely with a diverse group of educators. Tamlyn has joined the team to work on the Coconut Pests and Diseases Toolkit.
Ganges Lim's PhD research at Victoria University focuses on functional ecology and biodiversity in coastal plants. Having spent more than a decade as a teacher, he will be helping to develop educational resources for use in the Pacific, around the theme of 'People in their environment'.
Jess Russell is in the process of finishing her Masters at Victoria University. She experimented with increasing viral resistance in honey bees through the transinfection of beneficial bacteria. Jess is helping out with outreach resources and setting up surveys.
Antoine Felden investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying behaviour of the invasive Argentine ant in his PhD. Antoine has been contributing to ant control work and French translations for the Pacific Invasive Ant Toolkit.
Evan Brenton-Rule is a PhD student at Victoria University. Evan's research focuses on invasive species, biosecurity and law. He has assisted with workshops and ant control work in Tuvalu and Tokelau, and contributed to the Pacific Invasive Ant Toolkit.
Allan Burne contributed to the Pacific Invasive Ant Toolkit and held a key role in leading capacity-building workshops and ant management programmes in Kiribati and Tokelau. Allan has now returned to the Ministry of Primary Industries as an advisor on emerging risks to New Zealand biosecurity.
We believe strongly in knowledge and opportunity sharing. We encourage student volunteers to contact Monica if you are interested in opportunities to help improve capacity in the Pacific.
Phil Lester PhD
Tamlyn McKenzie MConBio
Jess Russell BSc (Hons)
Antoine Felden MSc
Allan Burne PhD