By Shannon McConachie

When I started my PhD last year, I knew there were three areas I would have the next few years to refine my skills in; research, teaching, and outreach. Research and teaching I knew where to go, but outreach? I hadn’t the faintest clue where to start looking and was, frankly, mildly terrified of the concept.

Then came the email. Inger Mewburn, The Thesis Whisperer, would be running a new course on social media for researchers. After some prodding from my office mate I signed on up and have not regretted it.

We learnt a lot in the two months the course ran, far more than can be helpfully summarized in a single blog post! The two most important things I learnt however where that there is no one way to do social media & communities are the most important part.

You don’t have to become a master in ever social media form and have dozens of accounts. If you just want to have a profile page up on ResearchGate or LinkedIn so that people can find you when they google you then that’s all you have to do. It all depends on what you want out of social media.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted out of social media when I started. A way to do outreach without leaving home? A network with fellow scientists? A resource for support?

I think I got all of those in the end, along with great new friendships with the rest of the social media students. These friendships created a community of support during the course, and helped me personally get over the worst of my social media fear. We were constantly talking both inside and outside the classroom, which made figuring out what to say on twitter a lot easier!

Along with learning and forming friendships we also had some pretty cool accomplishments come about because of the course. The best of which was getting the ANU 3MT final trending first on twitter as a group!>

Fiona used her skills to open and manage OWLs, a Facebook to connect older PhDs (read more here). I took my practice in live tweeting to SSERVI Australia’s workshop, which really helped break the ice when I would have otherwise hovered at the edge of the room.

Not every attempt has been successful, blog ideas were thrown about which have yet to come to anything and gently prodding other researchers onto social media has been a slow process.

But that’s social media – it’s always a work in progress. Your needs will evolve as you do.

More information can be found out about the course here and it should run again this year.

Until then, if you want help getting into social media you can hit me up on twitter!

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Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 6.

This is the last of our photography competition photos here on the blog. If you want to look at more or see what else we get up to at RSES, check out our Instagram!


– Ilya Bobrovskiy (PhD Candidate in Biochemistry)

Ilya - Queenstown, Tasmania.jpg

The photo was taken in October 2016 during the RSES student fieldtrip to Tasmania, near Queenstown. The picture shows a side of the Iron Blow abandoned mine cutting through a sulphide ore body. The last glimpse of sunlight illuminates an oncoming storm.



– Ilya Bobrovskiy (PhD Candidate in Biochemistry)

Ilya - Russia 10.jpg

The photo was taken in June 2016 during a geological field trip in the North of Russia, on the coast of the White Sea. It is time to go to ‘bed’ after a whole day of digging through Ediacaran deposits in search of fossils. The time is around 1am and the sun is just touching the horizon somewhere behind the trees, ready to start rising again.



Lenticular Sandstone

– Jeremy Mole (Undergrad Earth Science student)

Lenticular Sandstone.jpg

In this photo Dr. Opdyke is explaining the depositional environment of this Sandstone containing lenticular bedding and ‘ball and pillar’ structures to second year earth science students.

This outcrop of Sandstone, on the north end of Aslings Beach NSW, originated as the sediments deposited by a tide-dominated river. The ball and pillar structures are characteristic and show sand subsiding into mud forming swirls. The group of students pictured here are listening to Brad as he explains how the rock was formed.



– Aly Weirman (Honours Student in Paleoclimate)

Aly WEIRMAN - Babushka AW.jpg

This is a transection of Coxiella shells imbedded in the microbialite samples, I am working with for my honours project. The pictures where taken on the Leica mosaic microscope.


Field trip on the road

– Chris Renggli (PhD Candidate in Planetary Sciences)

Field trip on the road.JPG

Sunset over Central Australia taken during the 2014 Student Field Trip. 

A fitting end to this photography series.


Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 5.

This week we have some shots from field trips undertaken by PhD, Masters and Undergrad students at RSES! Enjoy.


Cradle Mountain

– Ilya Bobrovskiy (PhD Candidate in Biochemistry)

Ilya - Bleak Cradle Mountain.jpg

The photo was taken in October 2016 during the RSES student fieldtrip to Tasmania, in the Cradle Mountain National Park. The bird is the Black Currawong, endemic to Tasmania, and it’s sitting there as it it was specifically designed to match the gloomy dolerites of the Cradle Mountain in the background.


East Coast Tasmania – PhD Student Field Trip 2016

– Bethany Ellis (PhD Candidate in Paleoclimates)



Last year a group of students disappeared into the geological wilderness of Tasmania for the RSES Student Field Trip. Here the students are investigating the spectacular granite outcrops of the east coast, at the Bay of Fires and the Freycinet Peninsula. These granites were intruded into east Tasmania around 400 million years ago. The Bay of Fires may be famous for its orange lichen-covered granite boulders and white sandy beaches formed due to the high quartz content of the granites. The Freycinet Peninsula, home to Wineglass Bay and the Hazards, is made up of an orthoclase-rich granite which gives the mountains and coastline a characteristic pink tint.


Greetings from the Coral Reef!

– Xiaoyu Chen (Masters Student in Marine Biogeochemistry)

Xiaoyu CHEN - turtle.jpg

It was early morning in December 2016 and we had started the EMSC3019-Coral Reef Studies field trip on One Tree Island, Great Barrier Reef. While taking a stroll on the reef flat to record the organisms that live in the coral reef system, this guy came straight towards us suddenly, wandering around us for a little bit like he was saying Hi! I couldn’t afford to lose this shot, so I took several pictures of him. After a few minutes he left, like nothing had ever happened. But still for me, that was the warmest welcome from the reef!





Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 4.

This week’s photo installment was going to be the People’s Choice winners! But, one of the winners was featured in volume 1 (A foraminifera catching and beginning to eat a copepod by Dr. Oscar Branson), so this installment instead contains the stories of the two other winner of the People’s Choice prizes, and then an writers choice photo! Enjoy.


People’s Choice Award for ‘Where We Go’

– Dr Jonathan Pownall (ARC DECRA Fellow in Structure Tectonics)


In November last year, I travelled to Arthur’s Pass National Park on New Zealand’s South Island.  Walking from Arthur’s Pass Village—New Zealand’s highest settlement—I climbed for a few hours up Avalanche Peak, just above the snow line, where I was greeted by a number of Keas, the world’s only ‘Alpine’ parrots.  I took a few photos, surprised by how close I was able to approach (I had only a wide-angle lens).  And by how enthusiastically they were trying to destroy my rucksack, which I left on a nearby rock.  I’d like to say that some level of skill was behind this photograph, but the truth is that it was just a lucky shot.  A spilt second before I took the photo of the Kea on the right, it was scared by another Kea landing to the photo’s left, and burst into flight.  The result: an amazing glimpse at the Keas’ fiery-orange outstretched wings amid the spectacular snow-capped Southern Alps.

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 4.”

Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 3.

This week we are sharing a bunch of interesting photos of places and samples from around Australia and the world. Enjoy.

Can You Do This? Mulga, Central Australia

– Associate Professor Hrvoje Tkalčić (Seismology and Mathematical Geophysics)


This camel photo was taken when Armando Arcidiaco (our technical officer) and myself were in the field to retrieve 6 ANU seismic instruments that we installed to monitor the aftershock activity from a large (magnitude 6.1) earthquake that shook central Australia on May 21, 2016. The shot was taken while Armando was driving and I was in a good position to observe the beautiful landscape and nature of Mulga National Park, about 100 km southwest of Uluru. There was a wild excitement in the animals due to an unusually large amount of water (a consequence of La Nina) and thriving vegetation in usually desolate areas.

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 3.”

Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 2.

This week we bring you the Highly Commended images from our inaugural Photography Competition. Well the first three images are, and the last image is an ‘authors pick’! Enjoy.


What We Study

Chert – Jeremy Mole (Undergrad Earth and Marine Science Student)


I took this photo at an outcrop on Melville Point, NSW during the EMSC1008 south coast field trip run by Dr. Andrew Berry in September 2016. It is a picture of a series of cherts, which are fine grained organic sedimentary rocks formed by a process called diagenesis, where siliceous skeletons of marine plankton are dissolved, and the silica re-precipitated from the resulting solution. The chert can be of many colours such as brown, grey, yellow, red and white as seen in the photo. Also featuring in the photo are some well-defined fold structures.

Although it was a cloudy, rainy, wet day, the colours were still so vibrant that I took a couple of photos. Nothing fancy, just low aperture

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 2.”

Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol.1

As part of our annual Student Conference, this year we held our first ever RSES Photography Competition! Over the coming months we are going to be sharing with you some of these photos, and the stories and science behind them.

This week we start on a high with the winning images from our three categories; Where We Go, Who We Are and What We Study, as well as the overall winner. Enjoy!

Where We Go

Milky Way + Tent – Dr. Jonathan Pownall (ARC DECRA Fellow)


The photo was taken in August 2014 during a trip to Ladakh in the Indian Himalaya with Dr. Marnie Forster.  We were undertaking geological mapping and structural analysis of shear zones related to the exhumation of UHP coesite-bearing eclogites.  One night, camping by Tso Kar lake (4500 m), I opened my tent, and the sky was amazingly clear, and the Milky Way looked pretty special.  The lamp was still on in the kitchen tent… so I balanced my camera on a rock and took a long exposure photo.

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol.1”

Why we should March for Science

By Ali and Jess

Five reasons YOU should March for Science TOMORROW:

  1. You believe that government decisions should be guided by facts and evidence. March for Informed Public Policy!
  2. To say no to restrictions being placed on scientists communicating their research, as we are currently seeing in the U.S. Show your support for Open Communication of Knowledge!
  3. For Stable Science Investment, for security in our future jobs!
  4. For a science informed future and a well-informed community. We need kids to learn and love science, they are the future! We need Universal STEM Literacy!
  5. Finally, science is our tool to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems; it is worth marching for!




“Anti-science agendas and policies have been advanced by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and they harm everyone — without exception. Science should neither serve special interests nor be rejected based on personal convictions. At its core, science is a tool for seeking answers. It can and should influence policy and guide our long-term decision-making.” –


Meet us tomorrow at 11 am, on the Parliamentary lawns (Federation Mall) 

For more information go to

All images sourced from

Staff vs Student Lawn Bowls

The Research School of Earth Sciences has a long history of pitching the staff against the students in a biannual sporting competition. The staff have dominated in the last few student vs staff sporting competitions, especially cricket, where many of the student team had never bowled a ball or held a bat before. Read more about last year’s cricket match here.

This year strategy overtook tradition and the students challenged the staff to the inaugural student vs staff lawn bowls tournament. There was more participation than ever before with even a few of our youngest coming along to support their parents.

The weather was a sunny 29 degrees as we all made our way down to the RUC. The tension was thick and strategies were forming as the instructor explained the rules of lawn bowls.

Continue reading “Staff vs Student Lawn Bowls”

Tools of the trade: Michael Anenburg

This is the first post in a series where students will have the chance to write about their favourite tech tools to get the job done. This includes software, hardware, mobile apps, etc.

By Michael

I am an experimental petrologist, high temperature geochemist and a general geologist. This is what I use.

Continue reading “Tools of the trade: Michael Anenburg”

PhD by haiku, vol. 4

Compiled by Patrick, Patrick and Louise.

The fourth and potentially final installation of our longest running series.


Buried in a grave
Sea of torrid rock and heat
Spawns a seed so deep
— Jess, experimental petrology


Flash rock plummets scorched earth
Oasis of questions
Frostily protected
— Liane, isotope geochemistry

Continue reading “PhD by haiku, vol. 4”

PhD by haiku, vol. 3

Compiled by Patrick, Patrick and Louise.

A continuation of a continuation of our PhD haiku’s.


Such a mystery zircon
So obsessed with you
Let me know you more
— Bei, isotope geochemistry


The sea-floor goes deep
Water is lost on the way
Looking for witness
— Laure, isotope geochemistry

Continue reading “PhD by haiku, vol. 3”

Virtual Reality is the Future

By Michael

Several of us recently visited the VR exhibition at the National Museum Australia. You sit in their theatre and they give you an Oculus Rift with which you see two short films. Here are two videos to give you an idea of what it is:

Continue reading “Virtual Reality is the Future”

PhD by haiku, vol. 2

Compiled by Patrick, Patrick and Louise.


A continuation from last weeks blog post.

Nitrogen, carbon
Noble gases and so on
Chemistry is key
— Suzette, isotope geochemistry


Two minerals paired
trap ancient information
of how they were made
— Louise, experimental petrology

Continue reading “PhD by haiku, vol. 2”

PhD by haiku, vol. I

Compiled by Patrick, Patrick and Louise

We asked members of the student body to summarise their research in the form of a haiku. Here is what they came up with…


Dear sweet mantle plume
I really hope you exist
So much wasted time
— Tim, geodynamics


Where did people live?
Isotopes in teeth can help,
to stalk ancient folk
— Hannah, isotope geochemistry

Continue reading “PhD by haiku, vol. I”

Glacial shaping of the Tasmanian landscape

By Anna Makushkina

Geologists were fascinated by the enigmatic origin of the lakes in Tasmania throughout the 19th century. The glacial origin of these lakes was first recognized by Officer in 1895. Nowadays everyone accepts the occurrence of several glaciations and its leading role in shaping the Tasmanian topography including the formation of multiple lakes and moraine deposits, which have been dated from Quaternary to Neoproterozoic in age (Hoffman, Li, 2009).

Continue reading “Glacial shaping of the Tasmanian landscape”

RSES Writing Retreat at Kioloa

By Jess

At the end of November a group of PhD students from RSES headed to ANU’s coastal campus in Kioloa for the first RSES writing retreat.

As expected of a ‘writing’ retreat, a lot of us were writing, but there were also people reading, coding, making figures – any work that can be done from a laptop.

The days had timetabled writing sessions, which were structured in 25 minute long pomodoros1 with 5 minute breaks, and longer stops for morning/afternoon tea and lunch. Working in short intensive sessions with regular breaks really helped to keep focused, and with everyone on the retreat keen to get work done, there was a good sense of solidarity.

Concentration during a writing session (Photo: Jennifer Prichard)

Continue reading “RSES Writing Retreat at Kioloa”

Mining history and geology of the West Coast region – Tasmania

By Suzette

Tasmania has a rich history in ore geology and particularly West Tasmania is well-known for its mining industry. The formation of numerous ore bodies in this region were all related to three main geological events: the movement of hot fluids by volcanism in the Cambrian forming the primary minerals, the activity of the Great Lyell Fault exposing and oxidising some of the minerals, and a major orogeny in the Devonian causing the remobilising of the metals into veins and larger crystals. A simplified geological map can be seen below.

Continue reading “Mining history and geology of the West Coast region – Tasmania”

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