MEEP Honours student Cara Van Der Wal has won a number of significant prizes for her work.
Cara recently won the prize for best student talk at the international Crustacean Society Conference, held at the Australian Museum. Cara also received an honourable mention for the poster that she presented at the Genetics Society of Australasia Conference, held in Adelaide. Both conferences were held in July 2015.
Earlier in the year, Cara won an $11,000 Australian Biological Resources Study grant for her Honours research on mantis shrimps. These crustaceans include almost 500 extant species, many of which have important roles in marine ecosystems and in fisheries. Mantis shrimps are distantly related to crabs, shrimp, and lobster. Although they are among the major invertebrate predators in coral reefs, sea grass beds, and sand and rubble flats, relatively little is known about them. Cara is performing the first molecular phylogenetic analysis of the mantis shrimp family Squillidae, and aims to describe some new species within the group.
Cara’s research is being supervised by Associate Professor Nate Lo, Associate Professor Simon Ho, and Dr Shane Ahyong (Australian Museum).