Why males aren't more promiscuous

A presentation exploring why males are not more promiscuous won the University of New South Wales' (UNSW) Three Minute Thesis competition.

Alex jordan inside

A presentation exploring why males are not more promiscuous has won the inaugural UNSW Three Minute Thesis competition.

Research 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 presented a three-minute "pitch" of their studies during the university-wide competition. He won $3,000 in prize money and will now represent UNSW in the grand final of the Australia and New Zealand 3MT Competition at the University of Queensland.

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

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 close to 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, hosted by UNSW's Graduate Research School, was judged by Professor Cheryl Kernot, Professor Fred Watson and Dr Paul Willis.

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