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Australian Bryophyte Workshop, Flinders Ranges, South Australia, 20 - 26 August 2016

In Australia's largest mountain ranges, I joined Australian and international bryologists to search out some of the plant kingdom's smallest members - moss, liverworts and hornworts. As I'm a beginner in this field, and was just a few weeks into my PhD, the week long bryophyte immersion was a welcome launch pad into the world of moss research.

We have just got back from KL where the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research held its biennial meeting. Mel and I went via Singapore so we could catch up with Jessica on the way. We got to see the Singapore Botanical Gardens as well and meet some VIP orchids. Diana and Mick met up with us in KL. Xurxo Gago who is visiting our lab for a few months came from Spain. We also met up with our Antarctic collaborators Todd from Portland, USA and Angelica from Concepcion, Chile as well as several hundred other Antarctic Scientists. We were surprised to find that fashion week was on in KL but we couldn’t find a red shoe to pose in (see news from SCAR 2014 in NZ).

Antarctica is a natural subject for interdisciplinary exploration because it ignites passion and curiosity on so many fronts. The day brought together a kaleidoscope of interested parties from the worlds of visual art, toxicology, history, climate science, law, plant biology and the humanities. Such disciplinary diversity gave a taste of the contradictions that Antarctica embraces - whether from the point of view of temperature change, ice movement or the tourism industry of this remote continent.

Here are links to a video of a presentation that I gave at the Eco Antarctica Symposium - "INTERDISCIPLINARY PATHWAYS TO ANTARCTICA" on 9 August 2016 at the Leon Kane-Maguire Theatre, Innovation Campus, University of Wollongong.

 

The video is available in HD from my multimedia page

and also on Youtube, where you can find some of my other media presentations.

I recently returned from this year’s ICPR conference held in Maastricht in the Netherlands. The photosynthesis congress is held every four years and hosts researchers involved in all aspects of photosynthesis research. In what was the largest poster room I have ever seen, I was lucky enough to present a poster on understanding the regulation of photosynthesis during sun-flecks. I was also lucky enough to present two talks on solar induced fluorescence (SIF) at both the main conference and a satellite meeting held in Essex the week prior.

Many ecological questions require information on species' optima in relation to environmental gradients. These attributes can be important in determining which species will coexistence and how this may vary with climate changes. However, existing methods do not quantify the uncertainty in the attributes or they rely on assumptions about the shape of species' responses to the environmental gradient. To remedy this, Mick Ashcroft and the team recently developed a model to quantify the uncertainty in the attributes of species response curves and allow them to be tested for differences without making assumptions about the shape of the responses.

The 3 minute thesis competition is where students have to explain their project in 3 minutes with just one slide and no props.  It is a national competition and starts off with Faculty heats. Rhys Wyber's very short talk was called "LIFTing photosynthesis to new heights" and he won against stiff competition across the SMAH Faculty. We look forward to similar success in the university finals.  Go Rhys!

On Wednesday we celebrated four graduands.  Dr Mel Waterman and Dr Johanna Turnbull were awarded their PhDs. Professor Bob Furbank became Dr Dr Bob. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science.  In his inspiring graduation speech he told the graduands how important it was to try and work in an area which you love. I certainly agree with that sentiment.  He also talked about the important part played by mentors, peers and of course serendipity. 

We had a very interesting meeting yesterday to discuss connections between the work Rhys Wyber and Barry are doing at the leaf level, Zbynek at the canopy level and satellite measurements. The question is how can we bridge the gap between these scales to help inform measurements of global productivity and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  

It has been a busy month. PhD Student Beat Keller visited us from Germany bringing the new Forschungszentrum J├╝lich LIFT for Rhys to try out. Then we got new stronger light emitting diodes (LEDs) for our instrument so Rhys and Beat installed these. We can know measure fluoresence over bigger areas of canopy.  So Rhys is pretty happy. You can see them working in the dark here.

 

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