Lab Members



Angela Moles (Head of Lab)

I lead the Big Ecology Lab, in the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences. My primary research goal is to quantify the ecological strategies employed by plant species in different environments, and to better understand the selective processes underlying global patterns in ecological strategy.

Click here to to see past publications.


Teaching & Outreach

Courses I teach

BIOS3061: Plant Ecology

BIOS2051: Flowering Plants (from 2015)


Professional affiliations and service positions

I am an active participant in Scientists in Schools.

I am a jury member for the L’Oreal for Women in Science Fellowship scheme, a judge for the OEH Eureka prize for Environmental research, and run the Ecological Society of Australia/NSW OEH prize for Outstanding Outreach.

I regularly give public talks (e.g. Nerd NiteLinnean Society of NSWTEDxSydney)


Awards & Achievements

2017: Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence for Contributions to Student Learning.

2017: Shortlisted for the AFR Emerging Leader Award.

2017: Became a fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales

2014: Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence – Postgraduate Research Supervision.

2013: Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year

2012: NSW science and engineering award for Excellence in Biological Sciences (Plant, Agriculture and Environment)

2011: Australian Museum Eureka Award for Outstanding Young Researcher

2011: Included in The (Sydney) Magazine list of the 100 most influential people in NSW

2010: Edgeworth David Medal, Royal Society of New South Wales (awarded to a scientist under the age of 35 for work contributing to the advancement of Australian science)

2009: JG Russell Award (awarded to one QEII fellow each year by the Australian Academy of Science)

2008: NSW Tall Poppy Award (awarded by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science for outstanding scientific research and communication)

2008: L’Oreal/UNESCO for Women in Science Fellowship


Claire Brandenburger (PhD Candidate)

To what extent is evolution in introduced plant species generating unique biological entities? A study using two Australian weeds.

When European colonists introduced plants to their new homelands, they inadvertently followed a near-perfect recipe for encouraging rapid evolution. Using glasshouse experiments for two Australian weeds, the aim of this project will be to find out whether differences between source and introduced populations are heritable, and to assess the degree of reproductive isolation between source and introduced populations. This will allow us to quantify the extent to which evolution in introduced species is generating unique biological entities. One intriguing possibility is that introduced populations might eventually diverge so far from their source populations that they could be classified as new Australian natives.

Click here to see Claire’s website.


Alex Sentinella (PhD Candidate)

I’m interested in the relationships between genetics and ecology, especially  in how we can use both to understand the effect of climate change. My first project is on the broad scale latitudinal gradient of climate risk on germination, and my next project with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney will focus on detecting landscape genetics patterns. I’m also passionate about science communication, project managing scientific displays for UNSW and co-presenting a weekly science program on community radio (“Boiling Point” on Eastside FM).



Suz Everingham (PhD Candidate)

My research is looking at the effects of climate change on plant species. I aim to quantify changes that have already occurred in plant species due to recent climate change, to see if plants will be able to adapt rapidly to climate change into the future. Using field data, glasshouse experiments and large databases I am working to quantify changes in plant traits such as photosynthetic rate, wood density, germination rate and flowering timing. 

Click to see Suz’s website and twitter.



Zoe Xirocostas (PhD Candidate)

Can enemy release be predicted from factors that affect plant-animal interactions?

My project focuses on measuring traits of European plant species that have been introduced to Australia (sites in Brisbane, Sydney, Bathurst, Melbourne & Hobart) and comparing them to those in their “native” home ranges in Europe (sites in UK, Germany, Estonia, Spain, France, Austria & Greece) to see if enemy release can be predicted from the traits they possess.

Click to here to see Zoe’s instagram.



Thesis submission celebrations!