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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”

PhD by haiku, vol. 4

Compiled by Patrick, Patrick and Louise.

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

slide14

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

slide17

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.

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

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

Continue reading “PhD by haiku, vol. 3”

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…

tim-j

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

hannah

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

Continue reading “PhD by haiku, vol. I”

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.

writing-retreat
Concentration during a writing session (Photo: Jennifer Prichard)

Continue reading “RSES Writing Retreat at Kioloa”

A moment of terror: public speaking

By Michael

Two weeks ago the Research School of Earth Sciences here at the Australian National University hosted a symposium titled “21st Century Resources“. It was indeed an interesting symposium (or conference? or workshop? or colloquium?) covering a variety of subjects including ore deposits, energy use, climate change, and more.

Being an experimental petrologist specialising in ore deposits myself, I was particularly interested in the third and last day that had the catchy name “Metals for the Millennials“. One of the scheduled talks was about unconventional resources and rare earth elements by Carl Spandler, a professor from James Cook University in Queensland. Unfortunately, he had an unexpected appointment he had to attend, and he asked my supervisor if he could give the talk instead of him (by the way – Carl is also on my supervisory panel). Instead, my supervisor suggested I do it instead. Surprised and exhilarated by the opportunity to speak in front of important people in the symposium, I agreed.

Continue reading “A moment of terror: public speaking”

Geology of Tasmania

Every two years a group of PhD students disappear into the geological wilderness for the RSES Student Field Trip. In 2014, students spent two weeks camping in the Australian outback investigating the regional geology of Central Australia. After many discussions and presentations about exotic and tropical locations, the student cohort settled on a geological road trip around Tasmania. Here is a  quick overview of the geological history of Tasmania and some of the cool sites we managed to visit.

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Part 2: The Measurements

This week’s blog post is coming from Jennifer Wurtzel, who is currently on a boat analyzing sediment cores from the ocean floor in the Western Pacific Warm Pool!
In my last post, I wrote about how we get our samples for moisture and density (MAD) measurements.  In this post, I’ll discuss the measurements themselves.  We measure three things for MAD: wet mass, dry mass, and dry volume.  From these three measurements, we calculate a number of other properties, including porosity, grain density, porewater, and about 10 more. This may sound straightforward, but measuring mass on a boat is not as simple as on land because the boat is rolling!

Continue reading “Part 2: The Measurements”

Part 1: Taking Discrete Samples

This week’s blog post is coming from Jennifer Wurtzel, who is currently on a boat analyzing sediment cores from the ocean floor in the Western Pacific Warm Pool!
I am currently serving as a Physical Properties Specialist on Expedition 363 aboard the JOIDES Resolution. As part of the Phys Props team, I help run instruments that scan our sediment cores for physical characteristics (e.g. density) right as they come on board so that the “Stratigraphic Correlators” can identify patterns in the core, which will be used to guide the coring process.

Continue reading “Part 1: Taking Discrete Samples”

An unhelpful post on time management

By Jess

So this morning I stumbled on this cartoon:

phd

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.

Continue reading “PhD Status: It’s Complicated”

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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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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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.

Continue reading “Goldschmidt 2016 Yokohama: the field trips (part II)”

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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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*”

A Flying Visit to the Berkeley Synchrotron

By Rachel

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to get to go over to California for a few days all in the name of science.  We stayed up in the hills behind Berkeley, a short walk away from the instrument we were using.  The view from our hotel room was pretty amazing with views across San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.

Continue reading “A Flying Visit to the Berkeley Synchrotron”

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