The ABS executive
President - Justin Welbergen
Justin has been President of the ABS since 2016. When he is not busy pursuing societal matters, he works as a Professor at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment. Here he leads the Lab of Animal Ecology, home to an international ensemble of students that work on charismatic species in remote parts of the world. He is also co-founder of 'BATsLAB', a recent initiative to create a much-needed academic destination for bat research in Australia. Earlier this century, Justin conducted his PhD (Cantab) on the social organization of Australian flying-foxes and has been fascinated with these weird and wonderful creatures ever since.
Vice-president - Leroy Gonsalves
Leroy is passionate about all things bats, but has a particular interest in the ecology of echolocating bats. He works as a research scientist in the Forest Science group of the NSW Department of Primary Industries where he undertakes research on threatened species, including bats, in forested and other landscapes to improve ecological outcomes.
Second Vice-President - Lindy Lumsden
Lindy has been on the executive of the ABS for longer than she can remember and continues to be passionate about the ABS and the conservation of bats more broadly. She gets great satisfaction and enjoyment out of helping graduate research students and has co-supervised over 20 projects on bats. She also loves talking to community groups about bats and changing attitudes and perceptions. She is employed as a principal research scientist with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, at the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, undertaking and managing research projects on threatened species, including bats, to improve their management and conservation.
Secretary - Diana Prada
Diana is a PhD candidate at the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Western Australia. She started studying local microbat communities in 2016. Her current research uses molecular techniques to study bat ecology and the characterization of their viral diversity.
Treasurer - Joanna Haddock
Joanna Haddock became the treasurer for the society in 2020, and has a passion Australian bats. She has degrees in Psychology and Environmental Science, and finished her PhD in 2019, investigating the impacts of urban street lighting on insectivorous bats. Joanna now uses her psychology and her love of bats in the world of Science Communication, and is employed as a Community Engagement Officer in the Biodiversity and Conservation Division in the NSW Government.
Membership Secretary - Gillian Dennis
Gillian manages the long-tailed bat monitoring programme in rural Marlborough for Forest & Bird’s Bat Recovery Project for six months each year. In the off-season she takes on bat conservation-related contracts. Gillian has been working with New Zealand’s bats since 2004, turning to the ‘dark-side’ after several years of monitoring threatened bird species and working in conservation education roles. She has degrees in Pharmacy and Ecology, and in 2019 completed her PhD on minimising non-target impacts of anticoagulant rodenticide use for the NZ lesser short-tailed bat.
Newsletter Editor - Nicola Hanrahan
Nicola is a former PhD student at the ‘BatsLab’ at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University. While her focus at the ABS is human social communication on Twitter, her research focuses on bat chat, specifically, the acoustic communication of the ghost bat (Macroderma gigas).
The ABS extended executive
Inquiries Officer - Susan Campbell
Better known amongst the Society for her role editing the Newsletter over the last decade, Susan has been fascinated with bats since completing honours and PhD projects on the little forest bat and large-footed myotis respectively in Victoria. With Lindy as an inspirational mentor, Susan continued to contribute to the ABS whilst relocating to Western Australia to work as an invasive species research officer for the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in Albany.
Conservation Officer - Michael Pennay
Michael started working with frogs and quolls before graduating to bats about 20 years ago, he has worked with many bat species in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Michael has degrees in history, applied science and environmental law. He served as President of the ABS from 2008-2012, and has continued to help with the extended executive since then.
Bat Night Coordinator - Maree Kerr
Maree is a higher degree candidate at Griffith University studying the role of education in affecting attitudes toward flying-foxes. She is passionate about bat tourism and created the Australasian Bat Night program in 2012 to raise public awareness about bats, and is coordinating development of a national bat tourism trail. She is president of the newly formed Bats and Trees Society of Cairns, the main aim of which is to educate and engage the community with bats.
Flying-Fox Expert Group (FFEG) Co-convenors:
In addition to her role as ABS Bat Night Coordinator, Maree is also co-convenor of the FFEG.
Jess is a wildlife biologist passionate about ensuring a conservation focus while managing human/wildlife conflict, and is often invited to advise on policy for local, state and federal government. Jess played a key role in facilitating the 2017 and 2018 National Flying-fox Forums, and is working towards a consistent and strategic national approach to flying-fox management and conservation across Australia. She loves all wildlife, but bats (of all sizes!) are obviously the best.
Dr John Martin is a Research Scientist at the Institute of Science and Learning, Taronga Conservation Society Australia. John’s research is directed towards understanding the ecology of wildlife in human-dominated landscapes. This program aims to produce recommendations for land management that will lead to enhanced prospects for co-existence between wildlife and humans. Consequently, John has a keen interest in the human dimensions of conservation, including attitudes, knowledge, and local and global connection to nature.
Danielle is a PhD candidate at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Her passion is in the impacts of urbanisation on microbat ecophysiology, particularly reproduction. She is also one of the researchers involved in running Melbourne's Bat Box Monitoring Program.
Social Media Officers:
Twitter - Ariana Ananda
Ari's passion for wildlife conservation brought her from the USA to Australia nearly 3 years ago. She has been interested in bats since 2013 and has worked and volunteered with them in Costa Rica, Mexico, and throughout Australia. When she's not volunteering her time as a research assistant, Ari is a freelance photographer and enjoys hiking, writing, playing ultimate frisbee, and being a board game junkie.
Facebook - Heidi Kolkert
Heidi is a consulting ecologist and PhD student with the Reid Biodiversity, Landscapes and Ecosystem Stewardship Lab and the Rader Community Ecology Lab at the University of New England, Armidale, NSW. Heidi is studying the pest control service provided by insectivorous bats in the intensive cotton growing region of eastern Australia. Heidi has been facebooking all of our ABS batty news since 2016.
Facebook - Oli Aylen
Oli is a MSc student at the University of Otago NZ, and recently joined the ABS in January 2020. He has worked primarily in Borneo and South-east Asia, studying the efficacy of acoustic bat lures, and the bioacoustics of the bats of Brunei Darussalam. He is in the final stages of his MSc, whilst also working full-time for the Green Party of Aotearoa. In the future he intends to move to Australia for further study of bats. Alongside his ecological work he is also a keen photographer. Instagram Facebook Twitter
Instagram - Kirsty Myron
Kirsty Myron is a consultant ecologist with a passion for bats. She also runs non-profit New Zealand Bat Conservation where she communicates NZ batty news and activities. Kirsty helped create and is co-leading the Ausbats Instagram page.