Department of Zoology
University of Otago
P.O. Box 56
Dunedin, New Zealand
Education and Study Abroad Experience
• 2006 - 2010: PhD in Zoology at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Title of thesis: The use of peptides in predator and disease defence in New Zealand frogs. Supervisors: Dr Phil Bishop, Prof Lloyd Davis, Dr Stefan Clerens
• Sept 2003 - October 2004: MSc (with distinction) in Ecology at the University of Wales, Bangor, UK. Dissertation: Effects of sub-lethal UV-B radiation on the behaviour of the Palmate newt Triturus helveticus. Supervisor: Dr. Graham Rowe
• Sept 2000 - June 2003: BSc in Biology, (2:1 Honours) University of Wales, Bangor, UK. Dissertation: Impacts of changing atmospheric gas concentrations and temperatures on amphibian sizes from the Paleozoic to the present. Supervisor: Dr.Lock
• September 2001 - June 2002 (second year): Exchange year at Oregon State University, USA
Research Experience and Lab Visits
• 2008: Visiting Research Associate in Prof. Chris Shaw’s lab at the School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Laboratory techniques learned: Isolation of mRNA from frog skin secretions, establishing a cDNA library and cloning of peptides. Screening of peptide fractions for Trypsin inhibition activity.
• 2006: Training at Prof. Rollins-Smith lab at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA. Techniques learned: culturing and maintaining Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, zoospore growth inhibition assays using natural mixtures of peptides and collecting skin peptides from frogs by injecting Norepinephrine.
• 2006: Field assistant for Agresearch project, New Zealand: Estimating wildlife damage functions, an investigation of the effects of varying predator density (hedgehogs) on the offtake rate of a common native prey (common skinks). Involved trapping skinks, toe clipping, recording snout-vent lengths and sexing individuals.
• 2004: Small mammal trapping experience, UK: Assistant in water-vole project (population ecology of local vole populations).
• February 2004: Field work on Dominica (Lesser Antilles): Group project on anuran communication, testing the “Dear Enemy” hypothesis in E. martinicensis and studying ecogenetic adaptation to different biotopes by the lizard Anolis oculatus, using multivariate methods.
• 2001: Summer work in an environmental analysis lab. Tasks included screening soil and solvent samples for PCB’s and Polycyclic Aromatic Carbohydrates, preparation of soil samples for analysis, measuring Biological oxygen demand and determining the presence of toxins in soils.
S. Melzer and P.J. Bishop.Peptide defences of New Zealand frogs against the amphibian chytrid. Joint conference of the Wildlife Disease Association and the Wildlife Society of the New Zealand Veterinary Association, Catlins, New Zealand,2009. Oral presentation.
S. Melzer and P.J. Bishop. Archaic juice: Cutaneous glands in Leiopelma spp. University of Otago Zoology Symposium, 2009. Poster presentation (1st prize for best poster).
S. Melzer and P.J. Bishop.Second Meeting of the Australasian Societies for Herpetology. "The role of skin secretions in pathogen defence in New Zealand frogs, Auckland, New Zealand, 2009. Oral presentation.
S. Melzer and P.J. Bishop. Peptide defences of New Zealand frogs against Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.6th World Congress of Herpetology, Manaus, Brazil, 2008. Oral presentation
S. Melzer,P.J. Bishop and Stefan Clerens. Peptide defences of New Zealand frogs against diseases. Proteomics Symposium and Workshop at the Centre for Protein Research University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, 2008. Oral presentation.
2006-2007:Attendance and presentation to the Native Frog Recovery Group Meetings, New Zealand
Teaching and Work Experience
• 2007-2010: Maintenance of endangered native and introduced captive frog populations at University of Otago, New Zealand. Involved feeding captive frogs, cleaning and maintaining tanks, and checking health and weight of animals
• 2008-2010: Animal technician, University of Otago, New Zealand. Duties included maintenance of captive populations of introduced and native amphibians (African clawed frogs, Axolotls) and reptiles (Tuatara, skinks, geckos).
• 2007-08: Maintenance of endangered native and introduced captive frog populations at University of Otago, New Zealand. Involved feeding captive frogs, cleaning and maintaining tanks, and checking health and weight of animals
• 2008: Organising public frog displays at the New Zealand International Science Festival
• 2006-2008: Lab demonstrator for 100-level biology courses CELS191 and BIOL112. Responsible for answering students’ questions as they arise during the lab and ensure they understand lab concepts and exercises. Course contents include cellular anatomy, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics and microbiology.
• 2007: Marking exams for undergraduate level course
• 2006: Lab demonstrator for Botany 113: The Biology of Plants. Responsible for teaching students how to do biological drawings, assist them in completing labs on the lives of plants, algae, and fungi. Lab topics included how plants develop and function; their economic uses; and biotechnology for crop improvement.
Training and Skills
• September 2006: Animal welfare training programme: Guidelines for Animal Use in Research, Testing and Teaching in New Zealand. This course was a review of animal welfare legislation, ethics, compliance controls and the Animal Ethics Committee system, animal welfare management, animal selection and supply, practical handling of animals.
• December 2006: Ridge Wise level 2 training course: Integrated four wheel drive training programme. Driving a 4WD vehicle on formed access tracks and in off-road situations including emergency back-ups down hill, driving on slopes, towing and changing tyres
• December 2007: Comprehensive First Aid course in accordance with NZ Red Cross standards. Achieved the requirements for NZ Qualification Authority unit standards 6400, 6401 and 6402
• 2007: Assisted in organizing public talks/catering during New Zealand frog week
• 2004: Animal survey training. Amphibian and reptile identification, recording and trapping seminars, organised by the North West Wales Amphibian and Reptile Group. Water vole survey training course of the Welsh Wildlife Trust, Undertaking surveys of the endangered water vole on behalf of the Environment Agency Wales and the CCW. Conducting jellyfish surveys for the Irish Sea Leatherback Project.
• 2003-2004: Volunteer work for the Wildlife Trust (helping with maintaining nature reserves, conducting water vole, amphibian and reptile surveys)
• 2003-2004: Working at Open days at the University of Wales, Bangor. Organisation, set-up and presentation of animal displays, giving advice to prospective students
Workshops and Talks
• 2006: Attendance and presentation to the Native Frog Recovery Group Meeting, Nelson, New Zealand
• 2007: Attendance and presentation to the Native Frog Recovery Group Meeting, Gisborne, New Zealand
• 2008: Proteomics Symposium and Workshop at the Centre for Protein Research University of Otago. “ Peptide defenses of New Zealand frogs against diseases”
Research and Travel Grants
• Division of Science Travel Award: NZ$2000, 2008
• SRARNZ (Society for Research of Amphibians and Reptiles of New Zealand) Herpetological Research Award (NZ$1000), 2008
• Ecology Trust Grant, (NZ$300), 2008
• ERG Small Research Grant (NZ$2250), 2008
• Departmental Student Conference Grant (NZ$300), 2008
• Ecology Research Group Student Conference Travel Grant (NZ$250), 2008
• James Sharon Watson Trust Fund research grant (NZ$2000), 2006
• SRARNZ (Society for Research of Amphibians and Reptiles of New Zealand) Herpetological Research Award (NZ$2,000), 2006
Awards and Scholarships
• University of Otago Postgraduate Scholarship (for PhD studies, tuition plus stipend of NZ$20,000/year), 2006
• European Social Fund Scholarship (for MSc Ecology studies, course fees and a subsistence allowance of £3,680.00), 2003
Society for Research on Amphibians and Reptiles in New Zealand
British Herpetological Society
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Society for the Study of Amphibians & Reptiles