If money and time was no object, what research idea would you investigate?
If I had heaps of money, I reckon I’d do a really expansive longitudinal experiment looking at the impacts of human altered environments on sexual selection in fish using large outdoor pools…maybe in some exotic location.
Who was your PhD supervisor and what was the best thing you learned from them?
I was co-supervised by Prof Scott Keogh and Michael Jennions at ANU. They were excellent mentors (and I still call them up from time to time for advice). Apart from teaching and inspiring their students to do their best, both Scott and Michael are extremely generous people – both professionally and personally. No matter how busy they were, they always made time for their students. I try my best to follow in their footsteps.
Which paper of yours do feel should have more recognition?
Oh, that’s a tough one. I reckon everyone should go out and buy a copy of my book Behavioral Responses to a Changing World: Mechanisms and Consequences (2012. Oxford Uni Press). I get royalties so I ought to promote it whenever I can.
What is the worst review you’ve ever had?
The worst review has to be the very first review I ever received as a PhD student. It was terribly dispiriting and made me wonder if I’d ever get published. In hindsight, I’m not even sure the reviews were all that bad. Nowadays, I take all reviews in a constructive manner, especially knowing that reviewing papers relies on the good will of peers (which gives even the meanest reviewers at least some brownie points).
Which other evolutionary biologist’s work do you most admire and why?
I don’t want to name anyone specifically but it’s worth pointing out that the caliber of evolutionary biology research from this country is excellent and there are many evolutionary biologists in our own country whose work I greatly admire.
Dawkins or Gould?
Why did you decide to become a scientist?
I was a collector as a kid….aquarium fish, orchids, fossils, carnivorous plants. I think it was a natural progression. I did have a bit of a mini-crisis after the first year of uni when I was questioning what I wanted to do with my life (I also studied law). In the end, the excellent biology lecturers got me hooked on behavioural and evolutionary ecology so I went down the science path. Knowing how much my lawyer friends hate their jobs, I don’t regret my decision one single bit!
What is the worst job that you’ve ever had?
Deveining literally hundreds of prawns with a metal skewer each Saturday at the family restaurant when I was a kid.
What was the most recent piece of art that you bought?
I obsessively collect Australian aboriginal art and my home is literally covered in paintings from floor to ceiling. One of my most recent acquisitions is a work I saw at an art auction. I placed an absentee bid with the auction house because I had to go to Norway for a thesis defense. I got it at a ‘bargain’ but it is the most expensive painting I have ever purchased (my hand was shaking when I wrote down my bid). I could have bought a small car for the same price…I guess I’ll be sticking to public transport for a while.
Who would win a fight between a murray cod and a maori wrasse?
It depends whether the contest was in the sea (maori wrasse) or in freshwater (murray cod). In neutral territory (i.e. brackish water), my bet would be on the murray cod.
Which do you prefer – cheese or chocolate? (and why?)
Cheese. I prefer savory to sweet.
Tell us a secret that your colleagues don’t know about you
People often are curious about my name, Bob. I actually chose it myself when our family migrated from Singapore. That’s what happens when you give a six year old the job of picking their own English name (three letters; easy to spell). Bob was a character in a picture book I had about a bunch of kids who went to the zoo!
(Bob Wong)[http://monash.edu/science/about/schools/biological-sciences/staff/wong/] is Senior Lecturer in Animal Behaviour and Evolution in the Department of Biological Sciences at Monash University, Melbourne. His research explores a number of themes related to sexual selection, signals and mating behaviour in animals, especially fish, with particular reference to how these aspects are influenced by environment, including anthropogenically affected environments: the basis of his new book (see below). A keen gourmet and art collector, Bob also spends his spare time making his apartment publication-worthy.