Past members


DSC00084Gonzalo Avila – Email –  I am a Forest Entomologist with a particular interest in biological control of forestry and crop pests. I completed a BSc Hons in Forestry at University of Chile (2007) and an MSc in Biosecurity and Conservation at the University of Auckland (2012). I conducted my MSc research in the biological control program against the gum leaf skeletoniser (GLS) Uraba lugens which is a forestry pest causing serious damage to Eucalyptus species in New Zealand. I completed my PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland in early 2016, and my thesis examined the behavioural ecology and host-parasitoid interactions of the recently introduced parasitoid biocontrol agent Cotesia urabae.  My research interests revolve around biological control of insect pests and integrated management of economically important pests in agriculture and forestry. The location, release and evaluation of natural enemies for the control insect pests features strongly in my research.

I am now a Biological Control Specialist at Plant and Food Research Limited.


Shelley Myers – Shelley did her PhD with Greg & Thomas Buckley where she looked at population genetics, morphology and behaviour of Clitarchus stick insects. Her current research aims to understand species diversity and maintenance in changing environments. Currently she is a postdoctoral researcher at Clemson University. At Clemson Shelley is working on comparative phylogenetics of litter dwelling beetles in the Southern Appalachians. This project uses both next generation sequencing and traditional COI markers to compare population genetic diversity between old growth and secondary growth forests. Population genetics reveal patterns of survival and recolonization to help understand how species respond to anthropogenic environmental change.


Rebecca Bennik

For her PhD, Rebecca investigated genital evolution, sexual conflict and sexually antagonistic coevolution in two genera of New Zealand moths – Izatha and Glaucocharis.
She is currently working for Auckland council as a Pollution Investigator within the Resource Consent and Compliance department.



WebsiteJosephine McCambridge

Masters student – Email

I completed a Master of Science in 2017 looking at male contest behaviour and exaggerated weaponry of the endemic New Zealand sheetweb spider Cambridgea plagiata. My interests lie in sexual selection and mating systems, as well as the broader evolutionary questions of the traits produced, such as weapons and flashy ornaments. Although I am fascinated by studying these questions in all groups of animals, I enjoy exploring insects and arachnids due to their accessibility and often extreme nature in terms of mating systems and sexual selection.



Stacey Lamont

I completed my MSc in the Holwell Lab where I investigated the diversity and ecology of spider communities in native New Zealand forest fragments.  I have a broad interest in entomology and biosecurity, and I now work as a senior technician at the Ministry for Primary Industries



Maria SaavedraI am a Forest Entomologist with a particular interest in surveillance and detection of invasive forestry pests. I completed a BSc Hons in Forestry at University of Chile and an MSc in Biosecurity and Conservation at the University of Auckland, where I looked at the ecology of Thaumastocoris peregrinus, which is a recently established Eucalyptus pest in New Zealand.

Currently I am working at AsureQuality as a Forestry Assessor and also as the High Risk Site Surveillance (HRSS) programme coordinator working closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). The HRSS programme aims to detect new plant pests and diseases that pose a biosecurity risk or may impact on trees and shrubs.



Zac Wylde
I did my MSc with Greg Holwell looking a the community ecology, behaviour and biology of New Zealand carrion flies. I’m now doing my PhD with Russell Bondurianksy and Angela Crean at UNSW where I am examining the context-dependence of sexual selection. How does the physical and ecological environment affect life history traits such as aggressive and sexual behaviours, competitive fertilisation and the expression of pheromones? What can this tell us about the mechanics of sexual selection and how we perceive and gauge this dynamic process? I am looking at these questions and a number of others by conducting a number of laboratory experiments using the Neriid fly Telostylinus angusticollis (Diptera). This species has been developed in the Bonduriansky lab for the study of condition-dependent effects on life history traits. Currently I am examining a number of aspects of post-copulatory sexual selection and its possible links to male condition through a series of experiments that track competing sperm through the female reproductive tract and storage organs using confocal microscopy and microsatellite analysis.



Catalina Amaya-Perilla – Catalina’s masters looked at the behaviour of redcoast damelflies. She is now a telemetry consultant at Sirtrack Ltd.






Me insect


Anna Probert – Anna did her Honours project with Greg & Chrissie looking at the ecology and weapon variation in New Zealand harvestmen. Anna is now doing her PhD at UoA on assessing risk to native ecosystems using ants as a model system with Margaret Stanley, Darren Ward and Jacqueline Beggs.




Dan Townsend – Dan worked on sexual selection and allometry of New Zealand harvestmen for his honours project with Greg & Chrissie.