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Thomas Harris

Thomas Harris

Avian Behavioural Ecology Group, Macquarie University

The Avian Behavioural Ecology Group is part of the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. Research in the group is based on a variety of Australian passerines in the wild and captivity in an effort to understand the diversity of species in terms of behaviour and morphology. Current work focuses on the evolution of social behaviour in colonially breeding species such as the zebra finch and fairy martin, true coooperative breeding in two arid zone species, the apostlebird and chestnut-crowned babbler, and speciation and the evolution of polymorphism in the grass finches of Northern Australia. In addition to addressing questions of basic Behavioural Biology, they have a parallel interest in applying the concepts and techniques of Behavioural Biology to practical conservation and in particular are making inroads into understanding the decline of the endangered Gouldian finch.


Why are you participating in the "Augustana in Australia" program?

I am participating in the "Augustana in Australia" program so that I can travel abroad in a country that has so much to offer and is an incredibly interesting country. In addition, I hope that my time in Sydney can open up different career options I might not have considered without going abroad and doing something different. I am also looking forward to just traveling and seeing a country and culture outside of the US.

What value do you hope to add back to the internship site?

While interning, I hope that I will be able to add a positive attitude along with a large work ethic and willingness to learn and try new things. If I could bring these values to the internship site, I think it would be a very worthwhile experience for both myself and the internship site.

What do you hope to learn on your internship?

I hope that I will be able to learn what goes into a professional career in a biology field and how I can take what I have learned and worked on in Sydney and apply it to my life back in America. Also, I hope that I am able to learn more about myself, my strengths, and my weaknesses than I would have found without traveling abroad or interning.

Where do you plan to travel during your term "down under?"

The places I am most looking forward to traveling include the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, and New Zealand. I am really excited to travel to the variety of environments, like rain forests, coral reefs, and the outback, that can't be found in the Midwest.

What do you anticipate to be the highlight of your experience "down under?"

I am thinking that the highlight of my experience in Australia will be either living day-to-day life in a giant international city or visiting the Great Barrier Reef.