School of Biomedicine
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Dr Eleanor Peirce is a Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, School of Medicine within the Faculty of Health Sciences. She is the coordinator for the Anatomical Sciences major, and the courses Comparative Reproductive Biology of Mammals, Biology and Development of Human Tissues, and Cells and Tissues. She also contributes to coordination of the Honours program in the School of Medicine.
Dr Peirce has previously contributed to the teaching and management of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program, and was Academic Coordinator and Manager for this program from 2000-2011. During this time she coordinated courses in Human Biology and was one of the first staff to apply the "Research Skills Development (RSD)" approach to curriculum development and assessment in her courses.
Dr Peirce completed her PhD in 2000 on the factors influencing male germ cell production in two species of Conilurine rodents from Australia's arid zone, the plains mouse Pseudomys australis and the spinifex hopping mouse, Notomys alexis. Her current research interests include the influences of postcopulatory sexual selection on testis size and architecture, and sperm numbers and morphology.
Reproductive Biology Research Group
Our research group is interested in the comparative morphology and evolution of gametes, gonads and external genitalia of Australian mammals. We have found great diversity in these characteristics across the species investigated and we are now exploring the functional implications of this diversity. We have published extensively in this field with articles in Nature and New Scientist as well as in the more specialist scientific journals. In addition, we are involved in developing reproductive technological procedures for long-term storage of sperm and eggs from some of these species to assist with conservation programs.
In particular our current research interests include studies on:
• Factors determining the efficiency of gamete production across species
• Factors determining sperm shape and size
• Co-evolution of molecules involved in sperm-egg interaction at fertilisation
• Environmental control of reproduction
Title: A comparative study of ovarian structure and organisation in marsupial species.
Description: Mammalian ovaries are composed of an outer cortical zone of connective tissue (CT) in which the follicles containing oocytes and the ovulated follicles (=corpora lutea) are located. This zone surrounds a more fibrous medullary region containing the main vasculature of the ovary. The structural appearance of the ovary varies cyclically, with growth and development of follicles, ovulation and formation of corpora lutea controlled by the hypothalamo-pituitary-ovarian axis. A surge in LH from the pituitary gland is responsible for ovulation and the transformation of thecal and granulosa cells of ovulated follicles into the luteinised endocrine tissue of the corpora lutea. In several species of mammals, the cortical interstitial CT contains, in addition to follicles of various developmental stages, large clusters of additional “luteinised” interstitial cells, with a cellular appearance similar to that of corpora lutea, but that are not part of these structures, or of follicles. From where these cells arise, how widely they occur across species, and what role they might play in regulating ovarian function is largely unknown, particularly with respect to marsupial species. This project will analyse and compare the cellular characteristics and proportions of follicular and interstitial tissue within the ovaries of species of various Australian marsupials. It is hypothesised that where many luteinised interstitial cells occur the species has a longer cycle length than in species where these cells are not present.
Number of students: 10
Category: Dry lab - morphometric image analysis of histological slides
Major: Reproductive Health; Medical Sciences
Title: Testicular architecture in marsupial species: does it relate to intensity of sperm competition and hence post-copulatory sexual selection?
Description: In many animal groups, females often mate with more than one male in the same oestrous period, leading to the likelihood of competition between the sperm from different males to fertilise the oocytes in the female tract. According to the “raffle” principle, intermale sperm competition will result in increased testis size to maximise sperm numbers. Indeed, a strong positive association between multi-male breeding systems and large relative testis size - RTM (after controlling for body size) has been shown in numerous taxa where multimale mating occurs. However, adaptations of testicular and/or sperm structure to maximise the male’s chances of fertilising the available eggs might also occur. Therefore, the proportion of sperm producing tissue within the testes, and its kinetic capabilities, may reflect the breeding system that has evolved in a particular species. It has also been proposed that investment in larger numbers of small sperm is a selective advantage where intense intermale sperm competition occurs. The associations between RTM, testis structure and organisation, sperm production and sperm morphology have not yet been investigated in Australian marsupials although It is known that testis structure varies markedly across different marsupial groups. However, whether this variation correlates with RTM, and hence intensity of intermale sperm competition, has yet to be explored. This project will determine the relationships between RTM, the structural architecture of the testes, sperm morphology and sperm size across various groups of Australian marsupials. The hypothesis that will be tested is that testis and sperm morphology correlate with predicted levels of intermale sperm competition.
Number of students: 10
Category: Dry lab - morphometric image analysis of histological slides and sperm smears
Major: Reproductive Health; Medical Sciences
Date Position Institution name 2012 - ongoing Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide 1995 - 2011 Lecturer, Level B University of Adelaide 1992 - 1994 Lecturer, Level A University of Adelaide 1986 - 1991 Tutor University of Adelaide
Awards and Achievements
Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount 2010 Teaching Award University of Adelaide Excellence in Education Award for Faculty of Health Sciences University of Adelaide Australia 2008 Teaching Award Faculty of Health Sciences Executive Dean's Prize For Excellence in Teaching University of Adelaide Australia
Date Institution name Country Title 2000 University of Adelaide Australia PhD 1982 University of Adelaide Australia BSc(Hons) 1979 - 1981 University of Adelaide Australia BSc
Year Citation 2022 Breed, W. G., Leigh, C. M., & Peirce, E. J. (2022). The highly divergent spermatozoon of the Palawan spiny rat, Maxomys panglima has an extremely long tail. Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 34(6), 526-530.
2021 Peirce, E., Moya-Smith, T., Leigh, C., & Breed, W. (2021). Intraspecific variation in testis organisation and sperm head morphology of the delicate mouse (Pseudomys delicatulus): Its possible causes and consequences. Australian Mammalogy, 44(1), 76-80.
2020 Breed, W. G., Leigh, C. M., & Peirce, E. J. (2020). Reproductive biology of the mice and rats (family muridae) in new Guinea-diversity and evolution. Records of the Australian Museum, 72(5), 303-316.
2019 Breed, W. G., Peirce, E. J., & Leigh, C. M. (2019). Ovary of the southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons): Its divergent structural organisation. Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 31(9), 1457-1462.
2018 Peirce, E., McLennan, H., Tuke, J., Leigh, C., & Breed, W. (2018). Evolution of the testis and spermatozoon in mice and rats (Subfamily Murinae) in the absence of sperm competition. Journal of Zoology, 306(1), 58-68.
DOI Scopus4 WoS4
2016 Wechalekar, H., Setchell, B., Pilkington, K., Leigh, C., Breed, W., & Peirce, E. (2016). Effects of whole-body heat on male germ cell development and sperm motility in the laboratory mouse. Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 28(5), 545-555.
DOI Scopus7 WoS7 Europe PMC3
2012 O'Keefe, M., Elshaug, A., Burgess, T., Peirce, E., & Nettelbeck, T. (2012). Use of the Delphi technique to facilitate interdisciplinary consensus on academic program structure. Focus on Health Professional Education, 14(1), 55-66. 2011 Wechalekar, H., Setchell, B., Peirce, E., Leigh, C., & Breed, W. (2011). Are male germ cells of the arid-zone hopping mouse (Notomys alexis) sensitive to high environmental temperatures?. Australian Journal of Zoology, 59(4), 249-256.
DOI Scopus1 WoS1
2010 Wechalekar, H., Setchell, B., Peirce, E., Ricci, M., Leigh, C., & Breed, W. (2010). Whole-body heat exposure induces membrane changes in spermatozoa from the cauda epididymidis of laboratory mice. Asian Journal of Andrology, 12(4), 591-598.
DOI Scopus24 WoS24 Europe PMC14
2009 Willison, J., Peirce, E., Ricci, M., Al-Sarawi, S. F., Harper, R. L., & Donnelly, F. P. (2009). Handbook for research skill development and assessment in the curriculum. 2005 Bauer, M., Leigh, C., Peirce, E., & Breed, W. (2005). Comparative study of sperm chromatin condensation in the excurrent ducts of the laboratory mouse Mus musculus and spinifex hopping mouse Notomys alexis. Reproduction Fertility and Development, 17(6), 611-616.
DOI Scopus3 WoS3 Europe PMC1
2005 Worawittayawong, P., Leigh, C., Cozens, G., Peirce, E., Setchell, B., Sretarugsa, P., . . . Breed, W. (2005). Unusual germ cell organization in the seminiferous epithelium of a murid rodent from southern Asia, the greater bandicoot rat, Bandicota Indica. International Journal of Andrology, 28(3), 180-188.
DOI Scopus4 WoS3 Europe PMC3
2003 Peirce, E., Moore, H., Leigh, C., & Breed, W. (2003). Studies on sperm storage in the vas deferens of the spinifex hopping mouse (Notomys alexis). Reproduction, 125(2), 233-240.
DOI Scopus16 WoS14 Europe PMC5
2001 Peirce, E., & Breed, W. (2001). A comparative study of sperm production in two species of Australian arid zone rodents (Pseudomys australis, Notomys alexis) with marked differences in testis size. Reproduction, 121(2), 239-247.
DOI Scopus44 WoS41 Europe PMC24
1990 Peirce, E., & Breed, W. (1990). Organization of testicular interstitial tissue of an Australian rodent, the spinifex hopping mouse, Notomys alexis. Cell and Tissue Research, 260(3), 469-477.
DOI Scopus5 WoS4 Europe PMC1
1989 Peirce, E. J., & Breed, W. G. (1989). Light microscopical structure of the excurrent ducts and distribution of spermatozoa in the Australian rodents Pseudomys australis and Notomys alexis. Journal of Anatomy, 162, 195-213.
Scopus21 WoS19 Europe PMC7
1988 Suttle, J. M., Moore, H. D. M., Peirce, E. J., & Breed, W. G. (1988). Quantitative studies on variation in sperm head morphology of the hopping mouse, Notomys alexis. Journal of Experimental Zoology, 247(2), 166-171.
DOI Scopus26 WoS30
1987 Peirce, E., & Breed, W. (1987). Cytological organization of the seminiferous epithelium in the Australian rodents Pseudomys australis and Notomys alexis. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility, 80(1), 91-103.
DOI Scopus14 WoS16 Europe PMC6
1984 PEIRCE, E., & BREED, W. G. (1984). STRUCTURE OF THE TESTIS OF THE HOPPING MOUSE NOTOMYS-ALEXIS (MURIDAE, RODENTIA). JOURNAL OF ANATOMY, 139(AUG), 202-203.
Year Citation 2012 Ricci, M., Peirce., Lee, I., & Willison, J. (2012). Potential and problems of explicit research skill development in
undergraduate physics, chemistry, biochemistry and geology. In Proceedings of The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education. Sydney.
2011 Smith, S., Peirce, E., & Ricci, M. (2011). Equity in group work methodologies. In G. Williams, P. Statham, & N. Brown (Eds.), Changing demands, changing directions: Proceedings ASCILITE Hobart 2011 (pp. 1151-1156). Hobart.
2010 Peirce, E., Ricci, M., & Willison, J. (2010). Teaching research at a research-intensive university - can it be done in first year courses?. In Proceedings of the First Year in Higher Education Conference. Adelaide. 2010 Ricci, M., & Peirce, E. (2010). Can peer input improve the first year learning experience?. In Proceedings of the First Year in Higher Education Conference. Adelaide. 2009 Peirce, E., Ricci, M., Lee, I., & Willison, J. (2009). First year human biology students in the ivory tower.. In Proceedings of The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (pp. 91-97). Sydney. 2009 Peirce, E., Ricci, M., Lee, I., & Willison, J. (2009). First-year human biology students in the ivory tower. In Proceedings of the Motivating Science Undergraduates: Ideas and Interventions Conference (pp. 91-97). Sydney: UniServe Science. 2009 Willison, J., Peirce, E., & Ricci, M. (2009). Towards student autonomy in literature and field research. In Proceedings of the 32rd HERDSA Annual Conference (pp. 483-491). New South Wales: HERDSA. 2007 Peirce, E., Ricci, M., Willison, J., & O'Regan, K. (2007). Incorporating the development of research skills into level I undergraduate human biology courses. In Teaching and Research: Making the Connections in Health Sciences, Health Sciences conference 2007: a conference for University Teachers, 8th-9th November, 2007, University of South Australia. Adelaide, South Australia: Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia. 2007 Peirce, E., & Ricci, M. (2007). Application of a research skills framework for learning and teaching in Human Biology. In HERDSA (Ed.), Conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (pp. 1). NSW: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia. 2007 Peirce, E., Ricci, M., & Willison, J. (2007). Incorporating the development of research skills into level 1
undergraduate human biology courses.. In Proceedings of Teaching and Research: Making the connection in Health Sciences Conference. Adelaide.
2007 Peirce, E., & Ricci, M. (2007). Application of a research skills framework for learning and teaching in Human Biology.. In Proceedings of the National Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) Conference. Adelaide. 1991 BREED, W. G., PEIRCE, E. J., WASHINGTON, J. M., & ADAMS, M. (1991). TESTIS SIZE, SPERM NUMBERS, AND BREEDING SYSTEM IN THE CONILURINE RODENTS, PSEUDOMYS-AUSTRALIS AND NOTOMYS-ALEXIS. In B. BACCETTI (Ed.), COMPARATIVE SPERMATOLOGY 20 YEARS AFTER Vol. 75 (pp. 941-944). SIENA, ITALY: RAVEN PRESS.
Year Citation 2011 Willison, J., Ricci, M., & Peirce, E. (2011). Long-term performance measures of research skill development with first year human biology students. Poster session presented at the meeting of Proceedings of The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education. Melbourne. 2009 Wechalekar, H., Setchell, B., Breed., Ricci, M., Leigh, C., & Peirce. (2009). Whole body heat exposure induces apoptosis in mouse caudal epididymal spermatozoa. Poster session presented at the meeting of Reproduction, Fertility and Development. Adelaide, S.A.: CSIRO Publisjing.
2000 Peirce, E., & Breed, W. (2000). Testis size and sperm numbers in the adult hopping mouse, Notomys alexis - an update. Poster session presented at the meeting of Proceedings of the Australian Mammal Society Inc. 2000 Conference. Australia: Australian Mammal Society.
Postgraduate Course Coordination
|2015||Acting Chair of School of Medical Sciences HDR Committee|
|2012-2014||Postgraduate Coordinator responsible for oversight of HDR candidate cohort commencing studies in the School of Medical Sciences in 2012|
Undergraduate Course Coordination
|2016-present||Biology and Development of Human Tissues||2||BHlthSc|
|2016-present||Cells and Tissues||2||BSc|
|2015-present||Comparative Reproductive Biology of Mammals||3||BHlthSc, BSc|
|2010-present||Anatomy and Pathology Honours||Honours||BHlthSc|
|1993-2014||Human Biology IB||1||BHlthSc|
|1993-2010||Human Biology IA||1||BHlthSc|
Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2007 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Direct and indirect effects of whole body heat exposure on germ cells and spermatozoa. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mrs Harsha Wechalekar 2002 - 2008 Co-Supervisor Testis Size, Sperm Pleiomorphism and Extra-Testicular Sperm Maturation in the Spinifex Hopping Mouse, Notomys alexis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Melissa Bauer
Other Supervision Activities
Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name 1983 - 1999 Principal Supervisor A Comparative study of germ cell production in two species of native Australian Rodents University of Adelaide Doctorate Eleanor Peirce
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