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Dr Penelope 

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Penelope's passion for the water began during her swimming lessons at age 2 and manifested into a complete passion for diving and ocean wildlife. So it's not surprising that Penelope leapt into marine ecology research straight out of school and has since worked toward understanding fish behaviour and cognition in her Masters in Research and PhD. When she's not hunched over rockpools or researching in the lab, you'll find Penelope planning her next diving adventure

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Penelope embarked on the first stage of her Masters' degrees in collaboration with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS). It was during this year she used archived phytoplankton samples from the Antarctic coast to map seasonal patterns using GIS applications 


The work presented for this degree was carried out around the rockpools of Sydney, where Penelope collected different goby species from various environments and tested their cognition and memory using a simple maze 


In 2018, Penelope completed her Doctorate, during which she researched behaviour and cognition in small rockpool fishes. She combined behavioural assays and stable isotope analyses to investigate resource partitioning is sympatric species

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Like us, fishes are influenced by their environment when it comes to how they behave in particular situations. The majority of Penelope's research has focused on behavioural plasticity in fishes, which highlights the fact that they are able to adapt several aspects of their behaviour over short periods of time in response to environmental change.

Seasonal and developmental diet shifts in sympatric and allopatric intertidal gobies determined by stomach content and stable isotope analysis

Environmental enrichment influences spatial learning ability in captive-reared intertidal gobies (Bathygobius cocosensis)

Seasonal variation of sexually dimorphic spatial learning implicates mating system in the intertidal Cocos Frillgoby (Bathygobius cocosensis)

Hatching success of rainbowfish eggs following exposure to air

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  • Microsoft office (Word, Excel, Ppt)

  • Statistics (Statview, SPSS, Matlab)

  • Spatial application: GIS

  • English Professional Editing

  • Native Spanish speaker

  • PADI certified (rescue)

  • Occupational Diver Certified

  • First Aid/Adv Resus Certified

  • N.S.W Boat licence

  • Class 'C' N.S.W. Driver's licence

  • Animal Behaviour

  • Animal Cognition

  • Marine & Freshwater Research

  • Journal of Fish Biology

2021      Leadership, Management and Conflict Resolution, TAFE NSW

2020      Commercial Diver Certification Part 1 Res., ADAS, Sydney, Aus

2018      Threatened fishes  |  Fisheries management ASFB Conference, Melbourne, Aus

2017       Media survival  |  Making your science matter  |  REP – Introduction to R

2016       Basic Scientific Research Writing  |  Academic Writing & Communication

              ORRCA Marine Mammal Rescue Training, Sydney, Aus

              PADI Rescue SCUBA Diver Certification, Cairns, Aus

              Openwater Freediving Level 1, Botany, Aus

2015       Animal Ethics Training, MQU, Aus

2014      Working with Research Animals, MQU, Aus

2019-2021 Sea life Sydney Aquarium

                Primary Aquarist

2012-2015 Abyss Aquariums

                System Designer and Fish Specialist

2019- Editage

         ESL Scientific Reviewer

2022- UNSW

          Animal Ethics Committee Member

2022- Sydney Olympic Park Authority

          Park Ranger

2022- Sydney Institute of Marine Science

          Deputy Dive Safety Officer

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Research Experience

2012                     Investigating stress behaviours in captive African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)

2013                     Mapping the distribution of archived diatom (Planothidium) samples

2014                     Hatching success of rainbowfish eggs following exposure to air

2014/15              Volunteer to Dr. Gemma White investigating cognition in intertidal gobies

2021                    Verifying new DNA-based tool to age fish using Aus. lungfish as a model species

Current              Husbandry assistant and scientific diver for the White’s Seahorse Project

Image credit: Tom Burd

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever"

Jacques Yves Cousteau

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