School of Biological Sciences

Our vision: Biology without borders

Our mission: Investigating Earth’s biodiversity and natural environments to ensure sustainable futures through effective engagement

The School of Biological Sciences is a large, multidisciplinary School with research and teaching focused on understanding and conserving life on Earth. Understanding and communicating the vulnerabilities, adaptability and resilience of plants and animals on land and in our rivers and oceans helps to better value and protect the biodiversity around us.

As biologists, we are passionate about understanding how all forms of life – microorganisms, fungi, plants and animals – grow, acclimate, sense the world around them, communicate, defend themselves, reproduce and evolve. We study how species and ecosystems can be managed, conserved and restored. Our work also provides knowledge to advance sustainability, food production, plant and animal disease management, environmental management, climate science, medical science and science communication.

Our researchers tackle challenges to society in laboratories and at field sites across the world, studying plants and animals and their habitats in both natural and managed environments. We use techniques ranging from molecular and genetic analyses to novel and cutting-edge techniques like genomics and environmental DNA and big-data synthesis to assess and monitor whole populations, communities and ecosystems both regionally and globally. We are committed to engaging with diverse communities through innovative, inclusive, and evidence-based practise. Read more about our achievements in our latest research report.

Our teaching supports undergraduate majors in botany, biodiversity and evolution, conservation biology, marine biology, marine science, neuroscience, plant biology, wildlife conservation and zoology, as well as minors in science communication and ecology. At the Masters level, we deliver specialisations in bioinformatics, conservation biology, marine biology and zoology within the Master of Biological Sciences, as well as a Master of Science Communication.

Courses

Research projects

Research centres and groups

Centre for Evolutionary Biology

The Centre for Evolutionary Biology is a UWA Centre of Excellence, delivering excellence in research and research training. We adopt a multidisciplinary approach to exploring selective processes acting on the morphological and life-history traits of whole organisms and their gametes.

We offer excellence in research training at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including master's and PhD scholarships, with many opportunities available.

NESP Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub

Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub research is delivering new knowledge, tools and partnerships, and focuses on:

  • landscape-scale studies covering savanna, rainforest and aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity;
  • land and water planning for urban, agricultural, and infrastructure development; and
  • indigenous land management including Indigenous Protected Areas.
NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub brings together leading ecological experts to carry out research that improves the management of Australia’s threatened species. 

It works closely with more than two dozen collaborating organisations, including management agencies and conservation groups, to ensure its research has an on-ground impact in threatened species management.
The West Australian Biogeochemistry Centre

The West Australian Biogeochemistry Centre (WABC) connects researchers in stable isotope science and is part of the John de Laeter Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry.

The Centre is a centralised, stable isotope facility conducting research which focuses on the application of stable isotope science to environmental and ecological problems in terrestrial and marine environments.

See more
  • Marine Futures Laboratory
    Research at the Marine Futures Laboratory boasts high academic and real-life impacts. It is used to directly inform and influence both policy and management actions on national and international scales.
    Our skill set is as board as our range of interests with strong expertise in areas such as quantitative and behavioural ecology, statistical modelling, environmental monitoring, molecular biology, or wildlife genetics.
  • Sea Around Us - Indian Ocean
    The Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean, in partnership with the global Sea Around Us research initiative, uses big-data science in global and ocean-basin scale fisheries and marine conservation research. Over the last 20 years, we have built the world’s largest database of fisheries data. Such data lend themselves to a wide variety of scientific investigations, and allow the answering of strategic policy questions raised by stakeholders in global fisheries or that address national needs of Indian Ocean rim countries.
  • The Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub
    The CAUL Hub is a consortium funded under the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program. The mission of the CAUL Hub is to take a holistic view on the sustainability and liveability of urban environments.

Multidisciplinary research hubs

ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology
The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (PEB) is a cutting edge research centre focused on better understanding the way in which plants interconvert forms of chemical energy in response to environmental change.

Our vision is to enhance plant energy efficiency by simultaneously optimising energy capture, conversion and use in changing environments to improve the sustainable productivity of plants.
Cooperative Research Centre for Honey Bee Products

The Cooperative Research Centre for Honey Bee Products addresses industry problems limiting the value and expansion of the Australian honey bee products industry.

It aims to make Australian honey renowned as unique, pure and priced for its rarity. The Centre undertakes research to ensure better understanding of the Australian honey bee, its product and its pivotal importance within Australian agriculture.

UWA Oceans Institute

The UWA Oceans Institute provides state-of-the-art facilities for researchers, industry and government to come together to address the challenges facing our oceans, coasts and estuaries.

Fundamental and applied research is conducted across engineering, biophysical sciences and social sciences to support evidence-based decision-making.

Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute

The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI) is a joint venture partnership with leading research organisations, with multi-disciplinary research expertise.

It brings industry, government, researchers and community together to help address WA’s strategic biodiversity priorities through collaborative research.

Western Australian Marine Science Institute

The Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) is a leading Australian marine research organisation.

Its structure is like no other because it is a collaboration of State, Federal, industry and academic entities cooperating to create benchmark research and independent, quality scientific information.

It carries out research into climate change, biodiversity, the iconic Ningaloo Marine Park, sustainable fisheries, biotechnology and oceanography, and has overseen the development of a marine bioresources library that will store thousands of marine samples collected by researchers.

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Facilities

Alison Baird Reserve

The Yule Brook Reserve is also known as the Alison Baird Reserve and is a protected area of bushland in Kenwick owned by the University. The 35-hectare reserve is part of the Greater Brixton Street Wetlands, an area with the highest plant biodiversity of any surveyed bushland remnant in Perth.

The Reserve is a long-term research and training area for botanists. The Kwongan Foundation Facebook includes a gallery of images of the Alison Baird Reserve at Yule Brook.

Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis
Our electron, ion, light imaging and microanalysis facilities are world-class and feature a unique ion probe facility and MRI facility.

Internationally renowned academic and expert general staff provide support ranging from initial project discussion and planning through to application of cutting-edge techniques and assistance with data interpretation. Visit the centre's website for more information.
Harry Waring Marsupial Reserve

The Harry Waring Marsupial Reserve is 20 minutes south of Fremantle. It is a feral-proof fenced reserve, without any feral foxes or cats, which harbours endangered marsupials and animals such as brushtail possums, echidnas, quenda (bandicoot), reptiles, black gloved wallabies and kangaroos.

The reserve consists of 200 hectares of pristine Banksia woodlands, which also acts as an important habitat for the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos and other Australian native birds.

Plant Growth Facilities

The UWA Plant Growth Facility (PGF) provides a high-quality, functional and practical growing site for carrying out experiments under controlled conditions.

The facility has the capacity for a wide range of research projects and is available to all staff and students while also supporting national and international collaborative research.

Shenton Park Field Station

The Shenton Park Field Station spans 67 hectares and is a research facility for various areas of study.

The field station has facilities, including large, open irrigated field areas, netted areas, screen houses, glasshouses, PC2 facilities and quarantine facilities.

The West Australian Biogeochemistry Centre
The West Australian Biogeochemistry Centre (WABC) connects researchers in stable isotope science and is part of the John de Laeter Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry.

The Centre is a centralised, stable isotope facility conducting research which focuses on the application of stable isotope science to environmental and ecological problems in terrestrial and marine environments.

Community and engagement

The School values its links with the community, reaching out to share its knowledge and expertise. Our academics and students actively engage with school children and community events, such as Perth Royal Show, Perth Science Festival. In addition, they give radio interviews, newspaper articles and public talks.

 

TED logo       Biology as Art logo

Details of all our upcoming events can be found on our events calendar below.

Events calendar

News

  • New collaboration to help save lives and deliver scientific breakthroughs

    Fri, 17 Sep 2021

    A new chair of cardiovascular research at UWA will focus on delivering new research and treatments to tackle Australia’s biggest killer.

    Read More

  • Three UWA researchers recipients of Young Tall Poppy Science Awards

    Wed, 15 Sep 2021

    Three researchers from The University of Western Australia have been recognised in this year’s WA Young Tall Poppy Science Awards for their work in childhood acute respiratory infections, neural plasticity and hybrid breeding in crops.

    Read More

  • Evolutionary biologist urges us to save what's left of our natural bushland

    Tue, 14 Sep 2021

    Why do kookaburras laugh? Why are fairy wrens so blue? Why do cicadas click in unison? Professor Leigh Simmons, an evolutionary biologist from UWA’s School of Biological Sciences, explores the answers to all these questions and many more in a new book, Naturalist on the Bibbulmun.

    Read More

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School of Biological Sciences Seminar Series

The School holds a weekly seminar series featuring local and international guest speakers. The seminars are held each Friday at 3pm with afternoon tea prior to the seminars at 2.45pm.

Information about the seminar topics and venue can be found in the fortnightly School of Biological Sciences Newsletter.

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Annual Report

The annual report for the School of Biological Sciences for 2017 is available in PDF and outlines our achievements and Financial statements.

SBS Annual Research Report 2017 (PDF 4.2MB)
Download the word document version here.

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