My name is Freya Thomas and I am a PhD student working with Assoc. Prof. Peter Vesk and Dr Cindy Hauser at the School of Botany at The University of Melbourne in The Quantitative and Applied Ecology Group (Qaeco).
I have also just spent a year and a bit working at The Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (ARI) on some long term monitoring programs collecting information about plants in riparian areas.
I am currently employed at RMIT University working with the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group (ICS) on a project to design green spaces in urban areas for biodiversity and for human well-being.
My PhD work involves using functional traits of plants to determine if we can predict growth responses over time for multiple species.
I did a large chunk of fieldwork in Murray Sunset National Park, collecting height-growth data for 20 plant species at different time-since fire sites. Post fieldwork, I have been interrogating various non-linear growth models and testing if we can transfer trait-based growth models to new species and new places.
I am also keen on teaching and have been demonstrating in Vegetation Management and Field Botany at Uni Melb throughout my PhD.
In 2011, I completed a BSc (Hons) from La Trobe University. My honours research, supervised by Dr Trevor Edwards and Dr Susan Hoebee, revolved around proposing a novel hypothesis for the evolution of the food deceptive mimicry system in Australian terrestrial Sun Orchids. The project involved using morphometric analysis, spectral analysis and field pollination studies of blue Thelymitra and their putative mimics. The findings were discussed within the framework of the evolution of floral mimicry, and the contemporary pollination syndromes of species within this genus.
Previous to starting my postgraduate journey, one may have seen me leading packs of young people on adventures in the Victorian Alps, lining up for coffee at La Trobe University (Costemans in hand), eating something delicious on some other continent,
measuring plants somewhere in Victoria, appreciating some fine live music or playing soccer in the local gardens.
These days, when I am not working, I am usually botanising and when I am not botanising I am usually tweeting photos of Victorian plants.
The School of Botany
The University of Melbourne