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Meet the Team
The day to day running of Birds in Backyards is overseen by a Program Manager who works full time on the project and, when we have funding available, Project Officers, who are responsible for specific grant-funded work.
Dr Monica Awasthy
Monica is the Birds in Backyards Program Manager (while Holly is on leave!). She has a wide and varied background spanning urban ecology, citizen science, environmental education and community-based participatory approaches to conservation. Originally from Canada, Monica travelled and worked on a large variety of field projects with birds across Canada, USA, Australia, and Micronesia for universities, zoos, museums, and not-for-profit organisations, before completing a PhD in urban avian ecology in New Zealand. Since coming back across the ditch, she has been involved in several Birds in Backyards projects and served on the committee of the BirdLife Southern Queensland branch. She is passionate about bringing birds and people together and looks forward to an exciting year!
Dr Holly Parsons (on maternity leave until November 2017)
Holly is the Program Manager and has been involved in Birds in Backyards on and off since it began back in 1999. She has always had an interest in birds and ecology which led her to the field of avian urban ecology at University. Her Honours research at the University of Wollongong was the first research module undertaken by Birds in Backyards and involved a large community survey of backyard birds in the Greater Sydney region. Since those early days Holly has gone on to complete her PhD looking at the impact of urbanisation on Superb Fairy-wrens and, while she still loves doing ecological research, she has moved into the environmental education field by managing Birds in Backyards. This rather unique position allows her to have a foot in both camps - she still has involvement in scientific research through various Birds in Backyards projects as well as with the invaluable database of surveys Birds in Backyards members contribute, but she also gets to use birds as a way of communicating the importance of biodiversity to the broader community. It is a role that she is passionate about and she is keen to keep making Birds in Backyards bigger and better.
Who's on the committee?
The Birds in Backyards Steering Committee, appointed by the Birds Australia Southern NSW and ACT Regional Group (BASNA), has been responsible for design, management and implementation of all aspects of the Birds in Backyards Program.
Kate joined Birds Australia in 1986, and the Southern NSW and ACT Regional Group (BASNA) committee in 1997. Since then she has undertaken extensive honorary work in a number of capacities within Birds Australia, serving as Chair of BASNA from 2000-2002 and as a Birds Australia Councillor since 2007. In 1998 she co-founded the Eureka prize-winning Birds in Backyards program chairing its Steering Committee ever since, and became the inaugural chair of the Birds Australia National Education Committee in 2008. Kate holds degrees in Adult Education (community) and in Ornithology. She directs and manages a small business, ecnalab Pty Ltd, through which she provides education in biodiversity sustainability. She has a special interest in developing personal communication skills and in transformative learning in the environmental arena. She believes that if we are to conserve birds and biodiversity we must first teach others to love them.
Dr Richard Major
Dr Richard Major is a research scientist at the Australian Museum who works on biodiversity in the Museum's Terrestrial Ecology section. He has two main research interests, the breeding ecology of birds, and the effect of habitat modification on animal populations and communities. Outside of work, Richard enjoys the outdoors, both in his garden and in the natural environment. He is strongly involved with the Coalcliff Community Association and has been involved in a number of environmental causes associated with protection of the Illawarra escarpment.
Judy Christie brings her passion for birds and a background in bush regeneration and sustainability education to the Birds in Backyards Steering Committee, where she has been a member since 2000. Judy worked in catchment management in Sydney where her focus was on engaging local councils and urban commmunity groups in biodiversity restoration and education activities. Her inspiration comes equally from the pleasure of seeing small birds in her inner city backyard and the thrill of discovering a new bird in remote outback places. Judy has worked as a teacher, horticulturist and community facilitato and has a Masters Degree in Environmental Education from Macquarie University. In 2015 Judy was awarded overall NSW Environmental Educator of the Year by the NSW chapter of the Australian Association for Environmental Education.
Judy works in the Visitor Programs and Services section at Sydney Olympic Park as an Environmental Ranger. Her main role is to coordinate bird surveys, to encourage members of the community to discover the parklands and to lead children to learn about the world around them through the Nature-based Holiday Programs. She and her family have always been fond of beach and bush, trees and birds - the wonderful world around us. Judy joined the BASNA committee in 2004 and became a member of the Birds in Backyards Steering Committee in 2005.
Prof Kris French
Professor French works in terrestrial ecology in the Institute of Conservation Biology at the University of Wollongong. Her main research focus is on investigating the impacts of disturbances on flora and fauna, especially in relation to weed ecology and urban ecology. She also has research projects on threatened species and forest ecology. She is director of the Janet Cosh Herbarium. Kris has been on the Birds in Backyards Steering Committee since 2000 and has supervised several students in research projects supported by the Birds in Backyards programme.
Dr Charlotte Taylor
Charlotte is a senior lecturer in Biological Sciences and Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Science, University of Sydney. She is particularly interested in urban biodiversity and animal-plant interactions such as pollination and seed dispersal. She is also involved in projects on science literacy and communication, and on science in the primary school curriculum. She has been a member of the Birds in Backyards Steering Committee since its inception in 1998, and has supervised some of the research undertaken by the program.
Dr Mike Bamford
Mike studied biology at Murdoch University from 1977-1980 and in 1986 completed his Ph.D. on the impact of fire upon small vertebrates (including birds) in Banksia woodland. Upon completion of his Ph.D., he and his wife, Mandy, established a small business as consulting zoologists. This provides specialist services for environmental impact assessment, monitoring studies in association with impacts of development and rehabilitation, and environmental education. In addition, Mike is an occasional lecturer in Zoology at Curtin and Murdoch Universities in Perth. He is also a regular contributor to the West Australian Newspaper, including a weekly science and environment column (The Wild Side) that ran from 1997 to 2003, and is a scientific illustrator, having contributed to some of the HANZAB volumes and to the New Atlas. Mike and Mandy are regulars on ABC radio in Perth.
Mike was a member of the Birds Australia Council from 2005 to 2011 and was chair of the communications committee of Council from 2005 to 2009. Mike feels that BirdLife Australia has an important role to play in raising awareness and understanding of birds within the general community.
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