Submitted by editor on 23 December 2019.

Bob Wong has joined our editorial team as a subject editor! Join us in giving him a warm welcome. Bob is a behavioural ecologist whose lab is currently based in Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Read his interview!

Personal webpage: bobwonglab.org
twitter: @BBM_Wong

1. What's your main research focus at the moment?

I am interested in understanding wildlife behavioural responses in a rapidly changing world. Humans are having an unprecedented impact on the natural environment. When environmental conditions are altered by anthropogenic activities, behavioural adjustments are often the very first kinds of responses we see in animals. My research seeks to understand the ecological and evolutionary consequences that these behavioural adjustments (if any) engender to gain insights as to why some species are able to thrive under human modified conditions, while others flounder. A primary focus in recent years has been on uncovering the impacts of pharmaceutical pollutants on behaviour. While most people appreciate the therapeutic benefits of the medicines we take, very few realise that vast quantities of these drugs can make their way into the environment, with potentially dire consequences for wildlife behaviour, ecology, and evolution.

2. Can you describe your research career? Where, what, when?

I was awarded my PhD from the Australian National University in 2004. After successfully completing two very short overseas postdoctoral stints (Boston University, and University of Helsinki), I returned to Australia in late 2005 to commence a research fellowship at the University of Melbourne. However, soon after taking up the fellowship, I was offered a tenure-track position at Monash University. For the past 14 years I have been a full-time teaching and research academic in Monash’s School of Biological Sciences. I was promoted to full Professor in 2019. As an academic of Asian heritage and a member of the LGBTQI+ community, I am a strong advocate for diversity in STEM.

3. How come that you became a scientist in ecology?

I have always been fascinated by the natural world. As a kid, I kept rare orchids and carnivorous plants and collected fossils. David Attenborough was my hero. My biggest passion, however, was tropical fish. For some inexplicable reason, I have always loved fish and had numerous aquaria growing up. I guess it was natural, given all my childhood obsessions, that I would eventually end up in a career as a biologist. At university, I was fortunate enough to have been taught by some amazing behavioural ecologists, and that got me hooked.

4. What do you do when you're not working?

I am still a passionate collector. I love Australian indigenous art. So, when I'm not working, I'm usually visiting art galleries. I also have a dog so if I'm not at an art gallery, I'm usually out taking the dog for long walks. My other passion is eating. I'm a bit of a foodie. Living in Melbourne is fantastic; given its vibrant arts and food culture, the city is highly conducive to all of my non-work related obsessions.