An unhelpful post on time management

By Jess

So this morning I stumbled on this cartoon:


And it illustrated exactly what I feel like at the moment.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only PhD student feeling like this at the moment.

Continue reading “An unhelpful post on time management”

PhD Status: It’s Complicated

By Kelsie

I recently crossed the 3 ½ year mark of my PhD, went off scholarship, switched to part-time, got a casual admin job, didn’t get into a graduate program, bought a bunch of IKEA furniture and received reviews for a paper. It’s fair to say that I’m giving a lot of mixed messages about my PhD status.

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Self-conscious science writing

My writing has gone to bits - like my character. I am simply a self-conscious nerve in pain. - Oscar Wilde

by Tim Jones

A friend and I were discussing our tendency to hedge our bets when writing about science, for example: “The effect is somewhat observed“, “Our results are relatively consistent with”, “We conclude that our writing predominantly sucks”. These vagaries pollute our prose and muddle the mind of our readers. But is it necessary? Let’s start by addressing why scientists feel the need to be so inconclusive. First, science really is uncertain, and nobody wants to give an audience full of braniacs, geeks, and know-it-alls, a reason to think they don’t realise this. Second, writing is an act of psychology, because you don’t know what your readers know or don’t know, so you have to pre-empt the inevitable knowledge gap between you and them. The problem is that it’s impossible to determine the size of this gap and so the default position is to assume a chasm.

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Fighting animal cruelty with Cupcakes

by Louise Schoneveld

Throughout August the students and staff of RSES have been baking cupcakes to raise money for the RSPCA shelter in the ACT.

We had a magnificent team of bakers that operated under the team name RSES Cupcake Warriors.


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Exploring the region: when a three-hour trip takes you millions of years back in time

By Jesse Zondervan

Where other people see rocks and cliffs, our geologist student blogger Jesse Zondervan sees another world. Join him as he visits Jervis Bay. This blog was originally posted on the ANU science student blog.

A little kangaroo under a beach umbrella sticks his tongue out at us. A small group of beachgoers surround him, but he seems unperturbed as he lies down to relax.

Continue reading “Exploring the region: when a three-hour trip takes you millions of years back in time”

When Science meets Street Art

By Tanja

One of the many events held this year as part of the National Science Week was a collaborative project between scientists and artists. It was called Co-Lab: Science meets Street Art, and it is exactly what it sounds like: scientists and artists pair up, scientists have to explain their project in human terms and artists have to then paint their view of that project on a wall. Exciting, right?! I thought so too.

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Deep Carbon Observatory summer school 2016

By Suzette Timmerman

The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO; is an organization that investigates the carbon cycle. Researchers from all over the world are linked to this organization in four communities: extreme physics and chemistry, reservoirs and fluxes, deep energy, and deep life. We explore the behavior of carbon at extreme pressure and temperature conditions, how much carbon there is in which reservoirs and how it moves, how it changed over time, and the extreme conditions of life.

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Week 38: Wee Jasper

This weeks post is from third year Msci geology exchange student Jesse Zondervan who has been visiting RSES for the last year. This was originally posted on the 10th April on Jesse’s personal blog site.

By Jesse Zondervan

The two week mid-semester break started off with a field trip to Wee Jasper, in the bush of New South Wales. After five days of walking around in a field shirt and hat without phone signal I arrived back in civilization on Wednesday evening. Back in Canberra I spent the rest of my time writing for my assignments and the student newspaper. I also worked on the microscope with Janelle and played some boardgames with the B&G boardgames society.

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Turtles and tap-dancing birds: welcome to an ANU field trip

A field trip takes student blogger Jesse Zondervan to a classroom in paradise on the Great Barrier Reef. This was originally posted on the ANU Science student blog.

By Jesse Zondervan

In a silent group of people, I stand in the dark on a white beach. I listen to sea turtles digging their nests. Torches are not allowed because they may blind the turtles or scare them away to waste their eggs in the sea.

Heron Island is our one-night stopover to One Tree Island, a research island on the Great Barrier Reef, where we’ll be doing a field course for ten days.

Continue reading “Turtles and tap-dancing birds: welcome to an ANU field trip”

Goldschmidt 2016 Yokohama: the field trips (part II)

By Michael

Previous post: Goldschmidt 2016 Yokohama: the conference (part I)

I was fortunate to attend two field trips during my visit to Japan, both before and after the conference itself.

Fuji-Hakone: Spring, forest, cave, and volcanoes around the area

We left Yokohama to the village of Oshino, northeast of Mt Fuji, the location of Oshino Hakkai: the eight springs. This area used to be a lake, lava flows from Mt Fuji covered the lake completely and it dried up. However, groundwater coming from Mt Fuji are still feeding some ponds and springs in the village.

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Goldschmidt 2016 Yokohama: the conference (part I)

By Michael

Goldschmidt is the largest annual geochemistry conference, held this year in Yokohama, Japan. I am not a newcomer to Goldschmidt. I attended Goldschmidt in Montreal, Canada back in 2012. That was when I was a first year M.Sc. student, presenting something I did as a side project during my final year of undergraduate studies (and special thanks to my supervisor at that time, Yaron Katzir, for sending me to Canada for such an unimportant research project).

Attending conferences, like any other academic activity, is an acquired skill. My experience in 2012 can be summed up by this quote:

…Some scientist was talking about something, then another scientist goes “hmmm… interesting…” and nods the head. Really? But I don’t understand a thing! How can this be interesting??

Taken from one of my previous posts: One year over, two (and a half) to go

Continue reading “Goldschmidt 2016 Yokohama: the conference (part I)”

2016 Geoscience Australia Open Day!

The annual Geoscience Australia Open day is coming up so be sure to add it to your calendar! One time when I visited the GA open day there was a dinosaur just casually walking around roaring at people so keep an eye out for that! (Unless it went extinct…which is possible, dinosaurs tend to do that.)

Geoscience Australia Open Day – Sunday 21 August 2016

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10 ways your PhD is like a puzzle

-by Louise Schoneveld

1. You are sold the final product

The Picture you are sold

You are sold the final image before you start your PhD. Lovely isn’t it. You’ll spend up to 4 years of your life sorting this out.

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Black Cake Day

Pat Carr & Bethany Ellis

*In memory of M.J. Jollands (2011-2015)

Cake Friday is an ancient and rich tradition carried out weekly at RSES but every year we come to together to remember the day Cake Friday was forgotten. For the unlearned I present you with an extract of the original constitution, dated at the turn of the 12th year of the 21st century (it is rumored that the only remaining copy of the constitution will soon be put on display in the RSES foyer in place of the William Smith Geology map):

“Whilst the exact origins of cake Friday [sic] remain unknown, recent research has suggested that it was initiated some time in early 2012. What is clear, however, is that it rapidly grew until it became the most widely talked about event of any given week in the RSES, surpassing even ‘surprise chocolate Wednesday’s’ and ‘Friday football’ after a matter of weeks. It appears appears to have been designed as an event which would not discriminate against people based on their race, religion or gender, using the omnipotent power of cake to bring down any stereotypes…”

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Field Trip around SE Australia #OCGontour

Some snapshots of a recent field trip looking at past environments of South East Australia

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Slices of Time: Geoarchaeology Research Group Launch

By Kelsie

On the 26th May 2016 I attended the launch of the Geoarchaeology Research Group (GRG) which is headed by Associate Professor Tim Denham (ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences). The launch consisted of a series of short talks presenting the range of topics the group has been working on as well as some input from geoarchaeological researchers from the University of Wollongong. I am definitely not an expert in geoarchaeology and so I encourage anyone who wants to know more about it to check out the GRG website. I just think that the stuff they do is really cool and interesting. It’s also quite important.

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Just Not Cricket

by Patrick Goodarzi

True to academic stereotypes, it seems whenever sport is mentioned in these pages it is often followed by some combination of the words failure, embarrassment, or disgrace. This occasion is to be no different. Our opponents this time were the fully fledged academics and staff of RSES – ostensibly further down the line of sporting ineptitude. The day was mid April and the game was cricket. In hindsight, a poor choice of sport and one that played directly into the staffs’ hands – a predominantly matured group from Commonwealth nations for whom the idea of standing idly in a field for half a day was an exhilarating prospect. In contrast, our ragamuffin bunch was cobbled together with students from diverse backgrounds, to many of whom cricket was a foreign curiosity. All, however, were delightfully keen. Perhaps they sensed the magnitude of the occasion. Or more likely some cultural fulfilment to be had. Continue reading “Just Not Cricket”

Ocean Acidification – good news for people who love bad news*

By Sarah Andrew

*yes that is a Modest Mouse reference.

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to attend the 4th International Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World (AKA Ocean Acidification Conference) in Hobart, where over 300 scientists from around the world came together to discuss the implications of changing ocean chemistry and where our research needs to go next. A recurring theme in this conference was the realisation that scientists need to make a huge leap with experimental design (a bit more about this later) in order to start truly understanding the complicated aspects of such a dynamic environment.

Continue reading “Ocean Acidification – good news for people who love bad news*”

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