Saturday 17 August - Main Stage Session 1 - Doors open from 6:00pm
Prof Mike Archer and Prof Madeleine van Oppen
With MC Natasha Mitchell, In TMAG's Central Gallery
Two back-to-back talks, with three options for viewing:
1. Book a four-person table (see below) for $40/table for guaranteed primo seating.
2. Go in the running to win a free table by filling out a short survey HERE.
3. Just show up. Free seating and standing room is on a first-in basis.
(Note that free seating is limited, and we can't guarantee you'll get a spot.)
Mike in Thylacine country in

Prof Mike Archer, UNSW Sydney - 6:20pm

Sex, Songs, and the Sponge:
Australia’s Guinness Book of Evolutionary Records

Australians have for too long labored under the early European delusion that the natural productions of Australia are somehow less remarkable than those that evolved in other lands. In reality, many of the most interesting major events in the history of life on Earth appear to have taken place first in Australia. Steadily accumulating discoveries in the fossil record and in the living world make it increasingly clear that a surprising number of the world’s first, biggest and most extraordinary creatures evolved here. Far from being the evolutionary backwater some northerners have presumed, this place records the first undoubted cells, possibly the first evidence of sex, the first animals, first bone, first forests, biggest dinosaur, first megaraptors, biggest bird, first songbirds, most ferocious mammalian carnivore, the only triple vagina/double penis mammals, world’s tallest trees, longest-living plants, world’s most grotesque animal and many other awesome creatures that demonstrate that Australia has been punching well above its weight in churning out record-breaking beasts that should humble the rest of Creation.

About the Speaker:
Prof. Mike Archer was born in Sydney but grew up in the USA. After graduating from Princeton University he returned to Australia, did his PhD in the University of Western Australia, became Curator of Mammals at the Queensland Museum, Lecturer in the University of New South Wales, Director of the Australian Museum in Sydney, Dean of Science at the University of New South Wales and now a Professor and member of the PANGEA Research Center at UNSW. His research focuses on the deep past such as the World Heritage fossil deposits at Riversleigh, the fragile present such as conservation through sustainable use of native resources including having native animals as pets, securing the future based on the wisdom of the fossil record, and trying to bring extinct species (e.g., the Gastric-brooding Frog and the Thylacine) back into the world of the living.

Madeleine - Uni Melbourne_edited.jpg

Prof Madeleine van Oppen, Uni Melbourne and Australian Institute of Marine Science - 6:50pm

Designer corals and the future of coral reefs

Coral reefs have tremendous economic, biodiversity and cultural value, yet they are being lost at an alarming rate primarily due to climate warming. Madeleine will talk about her state-of-the-art research programs aimed at improving the outlook for coral reefs. Her team is using bioengineering approaches to improve coral climate resilience and increase the likelihood that coral reefs will survive this century. These interventions include coral host hybridisation and conditioning, bacterial probiotics and directed evolution of microalgal symbionts.


About the Speaker:
Professor Madeleine van Oppen is an ecological geneticist with an interest in microbial symbioses and climate change adaptation of reef corals. Her work has been published in >180 peer reviewed papers and book chapters. Her early career focused on evolutionary and population genetics of algae and fish, and subsequently corals. She obtained a PhD in the molecular ecology of algae in 1995 (U Groningen, Netherlands) and is currently an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow with part positions at the University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Madeleine is driven by a desire to find biological solutions for mitigating the effects of climate warming that have resulted in a terrifyingly rapid loss of coral around the world.

Note for those booking a table:
Only one ticket will be issued to the ticketholder for each four-person table. We suggest you arrive together with your party if possible, so that you can all be seated at once. If this is not possible, please make sure everyone in your party knows which name the ticket is under so we can seat them at the correct table. We will ask you to present your ticket (printed or on your mobile device) before we can seat you and your party.

Talks will start promptly at 6:20pm, so please arrive by 6pm, when the doors to TMAG open, to allow enough time to be seated and order a drink if you like.

Your table will be given away if you have not arrived by the start time of the first talk.