12:03am Tuesday 17 October 2017

Why males aren’t more promiscuous

Alex Jordan ... inaugural winner
A study by Alex Jordan, a PhD student in the Faculty of Science, suggests male promiscuity is not more common – despite its potential evolutionary advantages – because it’s subject to natural limitations.

Alex used tropical fish to show that promiscuous males will forgo essential life tasks in favour of sexual effort: the trade-off was that they grew more slowly and died younger. His work will be published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

“They ended up hungry, skinny and dead,” says Alex. “Perhaps it’s nature’s way of telling males to be more faithful to their sexual partners.”

Alex was one of 23 UNSW research students from a range of disciplines who gave a three-minute “pitch” of their studies during the university-wide competition. He won $3,000 in prize money and will now represent UNSW at the Australia and New Zealand Grand Final at The University of Queensland.

Alex Pui from the Faculty of Engineering was the runner-up, winning $1,500 for summation of his work on flood risk in a warming world.

Batman image
The People’s Choice winner was Paul Lee from the Faculty of Medicine, who spoke about ‘brown fat’, which might be the key to weightloss.

“Brown fat, unlike ordinary ‘white’ fat, functions like generators, releasing energy as heat by burning fat,” says Paul, who studied nearly 3,000 people and found brown fat to be common in those who are leaner.

“The growth and activity of brown fat can be turned on,” he says. “Brown fat has an important metabolic role in adult humans and is a potential treatment target for obesity.” Paul also won $1,500 for his presentation.

The inaugural event was hosted by UNSW’s Graduate Research School.

Media contact: Susi Hamilton, UNSW Media Unit, 9385 1583, 0422 934 024.


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