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Prof

Michael Kearney

Professor
Biosciences
Metabolic Theory
Biophysical Ecology
Microclimate
Mechanistic Niche Modelling
science & technology
life sciences & biomedicine
ecology
environmental sciences & ecology
animals
Michael Kearney's Profile Picture
Prof

Michael Kearney

 
Division
Science
 
Primary Interest
Ecology
Michael Kearney's Profile Picture
Prof

Michael Kearney

 

Background

I completed my undergraduate studies in Botany and Zoology at Monash University obtaining a BSc(Honours) in 1998, followed by a PhD in Zoology at the University of Sydney in 2004. This included a one year Fulbright fellowship the USA that included collaboration with Prof. Warren Porter at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin.

I then took up an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research (CESAR) from 2004-2006. I joined the Zoology Department (now School of BioSciences) as a lecturer in 2007.


Research
My research in this field is focused on understanding the physical constraints on the behaviour, distribution and abundance of organisms. I tackle this problem by combining field and laboratory work on the ecology of organisms with 'mechanistic niche models'. These models apply first-principles of physics and chemistry to organisms to compute their heat and water budgets and tie these to the metabolic processes that determine growth, development and reproduction.
Microclimate modelling

Mechanistic niche models require information about the environments immediately experienced by organisms, in other words, their 'microclimates'. A large part of my work has involved developing microclimate models for the terrestrial environment that accurately capture the air temperature, wind speed, radiation and humidity environments organisms encounter above ground, as well as processes such as heat and water flow through the soil and the effects of snow cover..

Biophysical modelling

Once the microclimate is known, it is possible to compute the temperature an organism will reach and how much water they will lose, using 'biophysical models'. This in turn constrains activity times and habitat requirements (e.g. shade, underground retreats). Biophysical models can also compute the energy a 'warm blooded' animal needs to keep warm, and how much water they must lose through sweating or panting to stay cool.

Metabolic theory
The final part of the problem of mechanistic niche modelling is working out the consequences of these environmental constraints for the organism developing, growing and reproducing. I apply a general theory of metabolism called 'Dynamic Energy Budget Theory' to work out whether the organism can complete its life cycle from egg through to maturity.
NicheMapR software
All of these modelling steps are integrated into the NicheMapR package for the R computing environment, which I develop and maintain https://mrke.github.io/

Applications
My research group applies a combination of field, laboratory and modelling work to solve a range of pure and applied problems in ecology and evolution. We are mainly focusing our empirical research on terrestrial invertebrates, especially the 'matchstick grasshoppers'. These grasshoppers include an endangered species, Key's Matchstick Grasshopper, and also species that have given up sex and reproduce by cloning (parthenogenesis). We also collaborate on a wide range studies on terrestrial, marine animals, birds and mammals and, more recently, plants.

Projects

Displaying the 22 most recent projects by Michael Kearney.

22

Projects

Project Types


17

Research Grant


3

Research Contracts


2

Internal Research Grant


Scholarly Works

Displaying the 158 most recent scholarly works by Michael Kearney.

Honours, Awards and Fellowships

2018

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher 2018

Thomson Reuters

2017

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher 2017

Thomson Reuters

2016

The HG Andrewartha Medal

Royal Society of South Australia

2016

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher 2016

Thomson Reuters

2016

Thomson Reuters Most Influential Scientific Minds 2015

Thomson Reuters

2015

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher 2015

Thomson Reuters

2014

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher 2014

Thomson Reuters

2013

Recognition of Achievement for a Research Paper

British Ecological Society

2011

Australian Research Fellowship

Australian Research Council

2011

Future Fellowship (declined)

Australian Research Council

2010

David Syme Research Prize for research in Biology, Chemistry, Geology or Physics

The University of Melbourne

2008

Deans Award for Excellence in Research

The University of Melbourne

2005

Award for best PhD thesis

Jabez King Heydon

2002

Comparative Meeting Travel Award

American Physiological Society

2001

Australian-American Fulbright Award

Australian-American Fulbright Commission

2000

Australian Postgraduate Award

Australian Federal Government

1998

A R Wallace Prize for Best Honours Thesis

Monash University

1997

Vice-Chancellor?s Undergraduate Research Scholarship

Monash University

1994

1st Year Earth Science Prize

Monash University

19

Awards

Credentials

Positions


Professor

Biosciences

Member

Ecological Society of Australia

Secretary

Victorian Fulbright Alumni

Secretary

Australian Society of Herpetologists

Member

Genetics Society of Australia

Member

Australasian Society for the Study of Evolution

Member

Australian Society of Herpetologists

Assistant Secretary

100 Acres Reserve Advisory Committee

Secretary

Monash Biological Society

Education


Doctor of Philosophy

University of Sydney

Bachelor of Science (Honours)

Monash University