Keynote speakers and Gala Dinner speaker

Keynote speakers and Gala Dinner speaker

Be inspired by thought-provoking keynote speakers.

Marcel Huijser

Dr Marcel Huijser is a lead researcher in road ecology at the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University, USA, where he leads a range of road and wildlife related projects for state and federal governments, counties, foundations, and other funders. He was the lead scientist on the 15-year long US Highway 93 wildlife mitigation project, which was a 90km long highway duplication project that dissected important natural habitats, agricultural land, and small villages on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Marcel is recognised internationally for his work on the development and testing of animal detection systems that alert drivers to the presence of large mammals along highways, having conducted trials in Yellowstone National Park, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Pennsylvania. Marcel and colleagues at WTI have undertaken a number of commissioned reports for the national US government on measures aimed at reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions and at mitigating the barrier effects of transportation infrastructure.

Marcel is also a visiting professor at the University of São Paulo in Brazil where he has been teaching road ecology on a regular basis since 2014 and collaborating on a diverse suite of road-impact and mitigation studies. Some of these Brazilian projects include quantifying roadkill along the toll roads in São Paulo State, the development of a Brazilian animal detection system, and the evaluation of wildlife mitigation measures along the road through Carlos Botelho State Park that hosts one of the largest remaining fragments of Atlantic forest in Southern Brazil with threatened and endangered species such as the jaguar, southern muriqui and South American tapir.

Marcel’s Ph.D. (2000) was on hedgehog road mortality and mitigation strategies in The Netherlands, in collaboration with the Dutch Society for the Study and Conservation of Mammals. In his spare time and professionally, Marcel writes a blog of road ecology photos. His photo website probably hosts the largest collection of road ecology images in the world.

Kirsten Parris

Kirsten Parris is an Associate Professor of Urban Ecology in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at The University of Melbourne, and the Deputy Leader of the National Environmental Science Program (NESP) Hub for Clean Air and Urban Landscapes (CAUL).

She has a deep affinity with frogs, and research interests that span urban ecology, conservation biology, animal behaviour, field survey methods and ecological ethics. In 2016, she published Ecology of Urban Environments (Wiley Blackwell), a text book for upper-level undergraduate and Masters students that provides an accessible introduction to urban ecology, using existing ecological theory to identify generalities in the complexity of urban environments.

Kirsten’s current research projects focus on the impacts of urban noise on acoustic communication in birds and frogs; the ecological costs and benefits of artificial wetlands in urban landscapes; community ecology in cities; and practical ways in which humans can better share the urban environment with other species. She also enjoys science communication including stand-up science comedy.

You can read more about her research at

Gala Dinner Speaker

Dr Gary Veale

In planning our conference, we thought about getting a former Tax Director from a big consulting firm to be our dinner speaker...and that’s what we’ve done.

He’s called Dr Gary Veale. Gary’s story includes dog sledding in remote Alaska, spending 8 years as a volunteer guide at Melbourne Zoo, and starting his career working for a helicopter manufacturer in the UK. He’s a former Director with KPMG, holds a PhD in the role of nature in unlocking human potential and corporate nature responses (University of Melbourne), and has spent over 20 years advising public and private sector clients, large and small on sustainability-related matters. He’s just been appointed as an Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne's School of Ecosystem and Forestry Sciences, and is the founder of The Nature of, a specialist advisory firm focused on the human relationship with nature.

Gary’s fascinated by the realities of people’s everyday nature experiences, and how these are changing in an increasingly urbanised, technologically mediated world. He’s perhaps the last person you’d get to do your tax, but one of the first you’d call if you wanted to make sense of the nature of car advertising, roadside sculptures, wolf tattoos, freeway plantings, Sunday afternoon drives through the hills, roadkill and other seemingly unrelated things.

At a time when the profound influence of nature on human decisions, desires and wellbeing is increasingly recognised, we’ve asked Gary to help us explore the nature of transport experiences.