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Philip Withers was born and grew up in Adelaide (South Australia), and graduated from the University of Adelaide with a BSc(Hons) in Zoology. From there, he was fortunate to receive a Fulbright Scholarship to complete a PhD in Biology at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he gained an appreciation of the international scale of research and academia. A postdoctoral position at the University of Cape Town furthered his interest and desire to pursue an academic career at an international level. After returning to the USA as a Visiting Scientist at Duke University, he was hired as an academic at the University of Portland where he remained for seven years and was promoted to Professor in Biology. However, Professor Withers always hoped to return to a more equable climate in Australia and was fortunate enough to be appointed as an academic in Zoology at UWA in 1986.

Most interesting aspect of my career

Without a doubt, the most interesting aspect of my career has been the ability to study (as a research scientist) and visit (as a naturalist) a wide variety of interesting vertebrate animals in many different habitats in diverse parts of the world, from the northern to the southern polar regions and in between.

Most important experiences at UWA

UWA for many years provided a positive engagement with undergraduate teaching, opportunities for high quality post-graduate training, and a supportive environment for developing my chosen research area of vertebrate animal ecophysiology, in a collegiate atmosphere.

Where did you think you would end up when you began your career?

Once I had embarked on an academic career in Zoology, I aspired to ultimately achieve an appointment as Professor recognized for excellence in both research and teaching. After I was appointed as an academic at UWA, I envisioned remaining here because UWA provided professional opportunities and personal satisfaction to pursue my research field and goals.

What do you consider to be your most significant achievements?

I think that my most significant achievement has been the attainment of international recognition of my teaching and research contributions, and being able to provide substantial intellectual advances in my research area.

Where to from here?

I intend to maintain an active research program at UWA in my traditional field of vertebrate animal ecophysiology, but I am expanding my interests to the metabolic physiology of grain pest insects to investigate more eco-friendly control strategies and seed metabolic physiology to enhance the efficacy of long-term storage.