Stephen Simpson is an entomologist and nutritional biologist who discovered the mechanisms that induce swarming in locusts. Steve went on to develop a nutritional model in insects that has since been applied to many other animals, including humans, with implications for the causes of obesity.
Steve’s research has led to an understanding of locust swarming, which is controlled by chemical signals that are triggered by the proximity of individual insects. Locusts only come together when food resources are scarce: the closeness of their neighbours triggers a swarm. Steve then showed that locusts’ eating behaviour is driven by their need for protein.
His interest in nutrition led Steve to investigate protein as a trigger for food consumption in other animals, revealing that low-protein diets lead to higher consumption of total calories. Steve has won many awards, is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and co-authored and presented Great Southern Land, an Australian television series that looked at how the natural world shapes daily life. In 2015 Steve was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for “eminent service to biological and biomedical science”.