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The ABS Executive


Justin Welbergen

Justin has been President of the ABS since 2016. When he is not busy pursuing societal matters, he works as an Associate Professor at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment. Here he leads the Lab of Animal Ecology, home to an international ensemble of students that work on charismatic species in remote parts of the world. He is also co-founder of 'BATsLAB', a recent initiative to create a much-needed academic destination for bat research in Australia. Earlier this century, Justin conducted his PhD (Cantab) on the social organization of Australian flying-foxes and has been fascinated with these weird and wonderful creatures ever since.


First Vice-President   

Monika Rhodes

Moni became First Vice-President in 2016. As an ecologist, she is particularly interested in bats, bat ecology and conservation, but has a soft spot for the white-striped free-tailed bat (Austronomus australis), her study species. She is actively involved in urban bat studies, including the supervision of PhD students. Moni works as an environmental officer in South Australia.


Second Vice-President

Lindy Lumsden

Lindy has been on the executive of the ABS for longer than she can remember and continues to be passionate about the ABS and the conservation of bats more broadly.  She gets great satisfaction and enjoyment out of helping graduate research students and has co-supervised over 20 projects on bats.  She also loves talking to community groups about bats and changing attitudes and perceptions.  She is employed as a principal research scientist with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, at the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, undertaking and managing research projects on threatened species, including bats, to improve their management and conservation.



Diana Prada

Diana is a PhD candidate at the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Western Australia. She started studying local microbat communities in 2016.  Her current research uses molecular techniques to study bat ecology and the characterization of their viral diversity.



Joanna Haddock  

Joanna Haddock became the treasurer for the society in 2020, and has a passion Australian bats. She has degrees in Psychology and Environmental Science, and finished her PhD in 2019, investigating the impacts of urban street lighting on insectivorous bats. Joanna now uses her psychology and her love of bats in the world of Science Communication, and is employed as a Community Engagement and Communications Officer for the Saving Our Species Program funded by the NSW Government.


Newsletter Editor  

Nicola Hanrahan

Nicola is a PhD student at the ‘BatsLab’ at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University. While her focus at the ABS is human social communication on Twitter, her research focuses on bat chat, specifically, the acoustic communication of the ghost bat (Macroderma gigas).  


Membership Secretary  

Leroy Gonsalves

Leroy became the ABS Membership secretary in 2020 and is passionate about all things bats. He works as a research scientist in the Forest Science group of the NSW Department of Primary Industries where he undertakes research on threatened species, including bats, in forested and other landscapes to improve how they are managed.





ABS Inquiries Officer

Susan Campbell

Better known amongst the Society for her role editing the Newsletter over the last decade, Susan has been fascinated with bats since completing honours and PhD projects on the little forest bat and large-footed myotis respectively in Victoria.  With Lindy as an inspirational mentor, Susan continued to contribute to the ABS whilst relocating to Western Australia to work as an invasive species research officer for the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in Albany.


Conservation Officer

Michael Pennay

Michael started working with frogs and quolls before graduating to bats about 20 years ago, he has worked with many bat species in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Michael has degrees in history, applied science and environmental law. He served as President of the ABS from 2008-2012, and has continued to help with the extended executive since then.


Bat Night Coordinator and Flying-Fox Expert Group Co-Chair  

Maree Kerr

Bat Night Coordinator and Flying-Fox Expert Group Co-Chair: Maree is a higher degree candidate at Griffith University studying the role of education in affecting attitudes toward flying-foxes. She is passionate about bat tourism and created the Australasian Bat Night program in 2012 to raise public awareness about bats, and is coordinating development of a national bat tourism trail. She is president of the newly formed Bats and Trees Society of Cairns, the main aim of which is to educate and engage the community with bats.


Flying-Fox Expert Group Co-Chair  

Jess Bracks  

Jess is a wildlife biologist passionate about ensuring a conservation focus while managing human/wildlife conflict, and is often invited to advise on policy for local, state and federal government. Jess played a key role in facilitating the 2017 and 2018 National Flying-fox Forums, and is working towards a consistent and strategic national approach to flying-fox management and conservation across Australia. She loves all wildlife, but bats (of all sizes!) are obviously the best.


Website Manager  

Leroy Gonsalves

Leroy has been managing the ABS website since 2016 and is passionate about all things bats. He works as a research scientist in the Forest Science group of the NSW Department of Primary Industries where he undertakes research on threatened species, including bats, in forested and other landscapes to improve how they are managed.


Social Media Officers (Twitter)  

Oli Aylen

Oli is a MSc student at the University of Otago NZ, and recently joined the ABS in January 2020. He has worked primarily in Borneo and South-east Asia, studying the efficacy of acoustic bat lures, and the bioacoustics of the bats of Brunei Darussalam. He is in the final stages of his MSc, whilst also working full-time for the Green Party of Aotearoa. In the future he intends to move to Australia for further study of bats. Alongside his ecological work he is also a keen photographer. Instagram Facebook Twitter  


Ariana Ananda

Ari's passion for wildlife conservation brought her from the USA to Australia nearly 3 years ago. She has been interested in bats since 2013 and has worked and volunteered with them in Costa Rica, Mexico, and throughout Australia. When she's not volunteering her time as a research assistant, Ari is a freelance photographer and enjoys hiking, writing, playing ultimate frisbee, and being a board game junkie.


Social Media Officer (Facebook)

Heidi Kolkert

Heidi is a consulting ecologist and PhD student with the Reid Biodiversity, Landscapes and Ecosystem Stewardship Lab and the Rader Community Ecology Lab at the University of New England, Armidale, NSW. Heidi is studying the pest control service provided by insectivorous bats in the intensive cotton growing region of eastern Australia. Heidi has been facebooking all of our ABS batty news since 2016.


Social Media Officer (Instagram)

Kirsty Myron

Kirsty Myron is a consultant ecologist with a passion for bats. She also runs non-profit New Zealand Bat Conservation where she communicates NZ batty news and activities. Kirsty helped create and is co-leading the Ausbats Instagram page.

The ABS Extended Executive