Early career researcher - Thomas Wallenius


Research Background

I completed my PhD in 2013 with a research focus on the obligate pollination mutualism between weevils and cycad host plants. The research largely involved investigating heat production (thermogenesis) and volatile emissions in cycads, and their effects in mediating behaviours of the pollinating insects. During and since completing my PhD I have also had strong involvement with the Australian National Insect Collection at CSIRO, and in teaching Entomology and Invertebrate Zoology in ANU undergraduate courses.

Research achievements

Some of the most interesting research I have conducted has involved investigating olfaction and the neuroethological bases of insect behaviour in pollination. This was achieved using a method known as electroantennography (EAG), which relies on measures of electrical activity of nerves to determine biologically relevant responses.

Current research interests

I am extremely lucky to be involved with some great research groups at the ANU and to have the opportunity to expand on my background in invertebrate biology, chemical ecology and pollination biology. Of late, my research interests have (more formally) progressed to taxonomy of a spectrum of terrestrial and marine invertebrates, phylogeography of Mygalomorph spiders, freshwater ecosystems, and coevolutionary associations/processes of other plant-insect mutualisms.   

Who do you admire in science?

While this person could probably be regarded more as an artist than a scientist, I would have to say that I most admire Ernst Haeckel. He had a supreme ability to exquisitely and exactingly render the structures and forms found in nature. To me, his works remain continually and truly captivating masterpieces.